A medieval market town with castle and parish church, Pickering is in Ryedale, on the southern edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. A Methodist society existed in the town on a site in Willowgate and here John Wesley preached on Monday 21 June 1790, his only known visit to the town. Among the early members was Sarah Grey, who became the first wife of Alexander Kilham. A new chapel was opened in Hungate in 1812, replaced in 1891 by what is now the Kirk Theatre. Pickering became a separate circuit, from the Scarborough Circuit in 1821. It is currently in the Ryedale Circuit.

George Piercy, the first WM missionary to China, was born at nearby Lockton.

Primitive Methodism was probably established in Pickering in 1820 with the northward expansion of theHull Circuit. A chapel was opened on 22 April 1821. It seems to have gained circuit status in 1823 when it was separated from Malton. In 1851 this chapel was replaced by one in Bridge Street. Its subsequent sale to the North Eastern Railway led to the opening of the present Potter Hill chapel (by the architect Thomas Howdill) on 23 June 1885 (closed and amalgamated with the WM chapel in 1974 (and now a theatre/cinema).

A vast, scattered Wesleyan Reform Circuit based on York spread northwards up the Vale of York and beyond the Howardian Hills to the Pickering area. This group of societies subsequently formed a Methodist New Connexion Circuit which ultimately passed to the Primitive Methodists. One of these chapels was that, now closed, at Pickering Carr.

  • HK, 'The Story of the Pickering Circuit. How George Piercy went to China', Methodist Recorder, Winter Number (1900), pp.69-81
  • Methodist Church, Potter Hill, Pickering. Jubliee Celebrations Souvenir, June 1885 - June 1935
  • J.H. Rushton, They Kept Faith: the history of some Yorkshire Christian congregations, including the Pickering and Congregational Churches (1967)

Entry written by: DCD
Category: Place
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