Burford, Glos.

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A Cotswold market town where Methodist preaching was introduced as early as 1738 by Joseph *Humphreys, when home from the Deptford academy. On several occasions between October 1739 and February 1741 John Wesley visited the town and preached, probably in Priory Lane, on his journeys between Oxford and Bristol. But no Methodist society was formed until early in the 19th century on the initiative of an Anglican, Thomas Buswell. It met at first in his home, the Mill House, close to the bridge. The earliest chapel was a converted building in Priory Lane, later the site of the council schools.

The imposing High Street chapel was built around the early 18th century as the mansion house of the Jordan family and is thought by some to have been the work of Christopher Kempster, Wren's chief mason in the building of St. Paul's cathedral, who retired to Burford in 1710. The stone facade, with its fluted Corinthian pillars is dated around 1740. From 1745 the house passed through the hands of several families, until in 1848 it was acquired for the Methodists and converted into a church. The domestic quarters in the basement were adapted to house a Sunday School. In 1949 the centenary was marked by extensive internal renovations; the architect, Thomas Rayson of Oxford being inspired by Wren's St. Stephen Walbrook in London. The floor of the worship area was raised to add height to the basement and the domed ceiling on four pillars of local stone was installed.


John Wesley's Journal:

October 1739: 'About six in the evening I came to Burford; and at seven preached to, it was judged, twelve or fifteen hundred people on "Christ … made unto us wisdom, and righeousness, and sanctification, and redemption". Finding many approved of what they had heard, that they might not rest in that approbation, I explained, an hour or two after, the holiness of a Christian; and, in the morning, I showed the way to this holiness by giving both the false and the true answer to that important question, "What must I do to be saved?" '

  • Methodist Recorder, 4 November 2004
  • Methodism in and around Burford (c.1984)

Category: Place
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