John Wesley's first visit to this market and textile town was in November 1739, following the death of his brother Samuel, who had been headmaster of Blundell's School since 1732. Samuel's gravestone is now fixed to the east wall of St George's parish church. Between 1750 and 1789 Wesley often preached there and founded a society which met in a room in St Peter's Street from 1752. Tiverton was the centre of the Devonshire Circuit formed in 1753. A surviving circuit book shows that in 1778 it still covered much of Devon and part of Somerset. St. Peter Street chapel was built in 1814, with a columned porch added later.
Tiverton was one centre for William O'Bryan's breakaway movement, the 'Arminian Bible Christians'. The Bible Christians themselves opened their St. Andrew's Street chapel (later a Pentecostal church) in 1887.
John Wesley's Journal:
30 September 1751: 'I preached at six on those words in the Morning Lesson, "We desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for, as concerning this sect, we know everywhere it is spoken against." [Acts 28:22] A drunken man made a little noise, but a clergyman present desired the town clerk to stop him, which he did immediately. Then the mob of footmen began, having procured a horn, and greatly increased their numbers. But a party of townsmen undertook them, and scoured the streets of them in a few minutes.'
August 1775: 'In the evening I preached in the dreary preaching house at Tiverton. The people appeared as dull as the place. Yet who knows but that many of them may again hear the voice that raiseth the dead?'