This was a Cleveland village which in the eighteenth century housed a mixed community of farmers, craftsmen and linen spinners and weavers. In addition to the parish church there were Quakers and Roman Catholics (served by Franciscan friars) in the village. On the urgent invitation of one of the Catholic clergy, John Wesley visited the village in April 1745 and preached in the middle of the night and early next morning to what was probably a mixed RC, Anglican and Quaker congregation. Within a short while a Methodist society became yet another element in the village's religious life and Wesley returned 15 times. It was one of the ten preaching places in the Newcastle upon Tyne Circuit when it was formed in 1748. A chapel built in 1754 was conveyed to Methodist trustees in 1756. Replaced in 1864 by a new larger chapel on a different site, it was used as ancilliary premises and, after a period of neglect, was restored in 1935. In 1977 it was rededicated as a Methodist chapel. There was also a PM chapel in the village.
The 'Mr. Adams' who invited Wesley to visit in 1745 remains a shadowy figure. He had been a Roman Catholic priest, or a lay brother, among the Franciscans, who married his housekeeper. 'My old friend Watson', whose death Wesley mentions in his Journal on 8 May 1777, is generally thought to be the same person.
John Wesley's Journal:
March 1745: 'On Thursday the 28th a gentleman called at our house [in Newcastle], who informed me his name was Adams; that he lived about forty miles from Newcastle, at Osmotherley, in Yorkshire, and had heard so many strange accounts of the Methodists that he could not rest till he came to inquire for himself. I told him he was welcome to stay as long as he pleased, if he could live on our Lenten fare. He made no difficulty of this, and willingly stayed till the Monday se'enight following, whwn hw returned home fully satisfied with his journey.'
April 1745: 'In the evening I preached at the inn in Northallerton, where Mr. Adams and some of his neighbours met me. On his saying he wished I could have time to preach in his house at Osmotherley, I told him I would have time if he desired it; and ordered our horses to be brought out immediately. We came thither between nine and ten. It was about an hour before the people were gathered together. It was after twelve before I lay down; yet (through the blessing of God) I felt no weariness at all. [Next day] 'I preached at five, on Rom. iii.22 to a large congregation, part of whom had sat up all night, for fear they should not wake in the morning. Many of them, I found, either were or had been Papists. Oh how wise are the ways of God! How am I brought, without any care or thought of mine, into the centre of the Papists in Yorkshire! '
April 1747: 'Finding Mr. D[yson] (as I expected) had been vehemently attacked by the neighbouring clergy and gentry, that he might be exposed to no farther difficulty on my account, I did not claim his promise, but preached on a tombstone near the church, on "The Lord is risen indeed." '
August 1748: 'About seven I preached in the street at Osmotherley. It rained almost all the time; but none went away.'
June 1755: 'I reached Osmotherley in the evening, and found a large congregation waiting. I preached immediately, God renewing my strength and comforting my heart.'
June 1761: '…the minister read prayers seriously and preached a useful sermon. After service I began in the churchyard; I believe many were wounded and many comforted. After dinner I called on Mr. Adams, who first invited me to Osmotherley.'
June 1776: 'I preached to my old, loving congregation at Osmotheley, and visited once more poor Mr. Watson, just quivering over the grave.'
May 1777: 'I found my old friend Mr. Watson, who first brought me into this country, was just dead, after living a recluse life near fifty years.'
June 1784: 'I preached once more to my old friends at Osmotherley.'
Charles Wesley's Journal:
December 31, 1746: 'By three came to Osmotherley. Mr. Adams carried us to his house and then to his chapel, where I read prayers and preached repentance and remission of sin in the name of Jesus Christ.'