The south-west corner of Dorset was the last part of the county to be reached by Methodist preaching from what had begun as the extensive Salisbury Circuit. The first known preaching in Bridport was in 1807 in the open air, by Richard Smetham, a young minister from South Petherton. A society was formed the following year. Fom 1813 it came under the Axminster Circuit until a separate Bridport Circuit was formed in 1834. Eventually, in 1971 it became part of the Devon and Dorset Mission.

The society met in the house of Robert Best in South Street until in 1809 a 'commodious building' was bought in North Street by a Dr. Roberts. Galleries were added in 1812. In 1838 it was replaced by South Street chapel, with its Grecian-style facade, opened on 28 November that year by Theophilus Lessey. Galleries were added in 1855 and a schoolroom in 1860.

In 1970, following a period in which the two congregations grew closer together, the Methodist and United Reformed societies were united in the former Congregational church, entering into a Solemn Covenant in 1971 and a Sharing Agreement in 1974.


'In connection with Bridport, there is a legend that Mr. John Wesley was once asked to preach there, but declined, alleging as his reason, that the Gospel was preached in the parish church, and that his labours were more needed elsewhere. Perhaps his strict adherence to his own motto, 'Go always, not only to those who want you, but to those who want you most' prevented his frequent visits.'

J.S. Simon, Methodism in Dorset (Weymouth, 1870), p.6

  • John Stevens, ms 'History of Wesleyan Methodism in Bridport and its Vicinity' (1857) (in the Devon Record Office)
  • The Mighty Oak: The Story of the Devon and Dorset Mission (1974?)