John Wesley first preached in Sir Neville Hickman's Baronial Hall ('Gainsborough Old Hall') in 1759 and paid a further nine visits. In 1780 his sermon was followed by a memorable love-feast.
The first chapel was built in 1785, replaced by a large galleried one in Spittal Terrace in 1804. Later chapels were built in Bridge Road (1883) to the south and Ropery Road (1899) to the north. The WM Circuit was formed from Lincolnshire West in 1776.
PM was introduced in 1818 by William Braithwaite (itinerant until 1832), and Thomas Cooper was converted there. The first chapel was in Spring Gardens (1837). The largest, Trinity Street, opened in 1878. A short-lived MNC society, formed in 1825, sold its Hickman Street chapel (1832) to WM in 1841. The UMFC cause, established in 1856, also had a chapel in Hickman Street (1868; closed 1948).
A new society formed at Whiteswood in 1955 built a chapel in 1959. St Stephen's (1968) is on the site of the 1804 Spittal Terrace chapel. Gainsborough is the head of a country circuit east and west of the Trent.
'About two I preached at Gainsborough, and again at five, to a very numerous congregation. We had then a lovefeast, and one of the most lively which I have known for many years. Many spoke, and with great fervour as well as simplicity; so that most who heard blessed God for the consolation.'
Journal of John Wesley, 10 June 1780