Louth, Lincs

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The town was visited by John Wesley four times between 1766 and 1788. The first extant class book lists four members in 1769, when a chapel was built in Eastgate (replaced 1808, enlarged 1835; interior modernized 1972). The Louth Circuit was formed from Grimsby in 1799.

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The town was missioned for PM in 1820 by Thomas King; a chapel was built in 1836, replaced by a larger one in 1850. The WMA had a small cause for a few years before 1862. The Reform movement was introduced in 1849. John B. Sharpley, corn merchant, alderman, magistrate and three times mayor was its chief spokesman. A chapel with eight Corinthian pillars was built in 1854. During the later nineteenth century and until Methodist Union the three circuits spread across the marshes and wolds.


John Wesley's Journal:

April 1766: 'Between nine and ten I began preaching in an open place at Louth. The mob here used to be exceeding boisterous; but none now opened his mouth. How easily, when it seems Him good, does God "still the madness of the people"!'

July 1770: 'In another sultry day we rode to Louth, formerly another den of lions. At first great part of the congregation seemed to "care for none of these things." But God made them care; the Lord looked down from heaven, and "His arrows were abroad." I have seldom seen persons more sensibly struck. They gathered closer and closer together, till there was not one inattentive hearer, and hardly one unaffected.'

July 1779: 'I had designed to preach abroad at Louth; but the rain drove us into the house. In the evening I expounded and strongly applied the story of Dives and Lazarus. The whole congregation, except a few poor gentlemen, behaved with decency.'

June 1780: 'I preached at Louth, where the people used to be rough enough; but now were serious and calmly attentive. Such a change in a whole town I have seldom known in the compass of one year.'

July 1781: 'In the evening I preached at Louth, now as quiet as Grimsby. When shall we learn "to despair of none"?'

June 1786: 'In the evening I preached at Louth. I never saw this people affected before.'

July 1788: 'I preached at Louth at six, in the preaching-house; but perhaps I had better have been in the market-place. At five in the morning the room was filled; and I spoke as doubting whether I should see them any more.'

  • William Leary & D.N. Robinson, A History of Methodism in Louth (1981)
  • David W. Bebbington, 'Secession and revival: Louth Free Methodist Church in the 1850s', in Wesley and Methodist Studies, vol. 7, 2015, pp.54-77

Entry written by: WL
Category: Place
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