St. Albans

Although John Wesley passed through St. Albans a number of times, he did not record ever preaching there. In August 1770 he took time to visit the Abbey, describing it as 'one of the most ancient buildings in the kingdom ... and one of the largest'. A chance encounter with 'a poor woman who seemed to be in distress' while he was passing through St. Albans led to John Fletcher's first acquaintance with the Methodists.

Towards the end of the 18th century two places were registered for Methodist worship: the house of David Kidd, baker in January 1793 and a barn in Romeland belonging to Charles Kentish in March 1794. Then in 1801 the Methodists took over a former Baptist meeting-house in Crabtree Yard, St. Peter's Street. Accommodating about 150, this stood between the Crabtree and Windmill Inns and was used until a chapel was opened in Lower Dagnall Street in January 1824.

By 1840 the membership numbered 152 and the congregation was said to number as many as 350. A new chapel was built in Upper Dagnall Street, opened in 1841 and seating 469 at a cost of £1,800. This in turn was replaced in 1898 by Marlborough Road Church and became a printing works.

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Opened on 30 June 1898 and costing nearly £7,000, Marlborough Road was designed to seat 968. The adjoining schoolroom was requisitioned in both World Wars. Improvements to the organ and changes to the location of the pulpit and rostrum were made at the time of the 50th anniversary in 1948, and a scheme completed in the 1980s resulted in major improvements to the premises as a whole. The new memorial window by Bowman's Stained Glass of Haddenham was installed in the 1990s, along with the refurbishment of the organ, which is regularly used by competitors in the bi-annual International Organ Festival.

In a period that saw a spate of church building in the early 20th century, a tin tabernacle was erected in Hatfield Road in1906 and replaced by the present church in 1985..

  • J. George Greaves, Wesleyan Methodism in the City of the Proto-Martyr (1907)

See also

Category: Place
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