In 1863 the Conference resolved to create the Board of Trustees for WM Chapel Purposes, and a deed was duly enrolled in Chancery in 1866. It enabled property and funds given for various charitable purposes connected with the Church at all levels to be held by a group of trustees appointed by and reporting to the Conference, so providing the necessary continuity and skills to ensure that the purposes were properly and effectively carried out. In 1910, the Board was registered as a corporate body, enabling it to hold property in its own name and to act as a custodian trustee of property being directly managed by others.
In 1914 the UMC set up a similar Board for UM Church Purposes, but there was no equivalent PM body. The two boards were amalgamated by the Methodist Church Act 1939 into the Board of Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes (TMCP). The Board increased in significance with the provision in the 1932 Model Deed for it to hold the proceeds of sale from local and circuit property.The 1976 Methodist Church Act statutorily vested all existing and new model trust property - including not only land but also other forms of assets - in the Board as custodian trustee (with separate provision for the Isle of Man and Channel Islands), so that it now holds the legal title to virtually all local, circuit and district property and much connexional property. The Board consists of a maximum of 12 ministers and 12 lay people and continues to act also as full trustee for certain individual trusts.
In 2018, a major report was brought to the Methodist Council and thence to the Conference, reviewing the property and legal support required by managing trustees, and prompted partly by Memorials to the Conference about the role of the custodian trustee, The report provided a history and legal analysis of the relationship between the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes and the church, affirmed the custodian trusteeship model, but made a number of recommendations to clarify TMCP’s role and to improve the support given connexionally and by TMCP to local and circuit managing trustees.