Warrington, Ches.

The town formed a staging post for John Wesley between Manchester or Chester and Liverpool; consequently he visited the town 21 times between 1755 and 1790. In the sermons he preached in 1768 and 1772 he could not resist a dig at the rationalism of the Presbyterian academy there. Bank Street chapel, opened 1778, was superseded by Bold Street (seating 1,300) in 1850.

Isolation and the absence of a resident itinerant contributed to secession of Quaker Methodists in 1796, and Warrington remains a centre of Independent Methodist. A separate WM circuit was formed (from Northwich) in 1812.

A small PM society, with a chapel in Legh Street, was established with difficulty. There was never any UM work.


John Wesley's Journal:

April 1755: 'At six in the morning,… I preached to a large and serious congregation..'

May 1757: 'I preached at Warrington about noon to a wild, staring people (very few excepted), who seemed just right for mischief. But the bridle was in their jaws.'

March 1760: 'About noon I preached at Warrington. Many of "the beasts of the people" were present; but the bridle from above was in their teeth, so that they made not the least disturbance.'

July 1764: 'I preached at Warrington. But what a change! No opposer, nor any trifler now. Every one heard as for life, while I explained and applied "Why will ye die, O house of Israel?" '

April 1766: 'I preached at Warrington, abiut noon, to a large congregation, rich and poor, learned and unlearned. I never spoke more plain; nor have I ever seen a congregation listen with more attention.'

April 1768: 'About noon I preached at Warrington; I am afraid, not to the taste of some of my hearers, as my subject led me to speak strongly and explicitly on the Godhead of Christ. But that I cannot help, for on this I must insist as the foundation of all our hope.'

March 1772: 'At one I preached at Warrington. I believe all the young gentlemen of the acadwemy were there, to whom I stated and proved the use of reason, from those wors of St. Paul, "In wickedness be ye children, but in understanding be ye men." '

April 1779: 'The proprietor of the new chapel had sent me word that I was welcome to preach in it; but he had now altered his mind, so I preached in our own; and I saw not one inattentive hearer.'

March 1780: 'We had a large congregation in the morning, as many as the church could contain in the afternoon, and more than it could contain in the evening. At last there is reason to hope that God will have a steady people even in this wilderness.

'The next evening, when a few of the society were met together, the power of God came mightily upon them. Some fell to the ground; some cried aloud for mercy; some rejoiced with joy unspeakable. Two or three found a clear sense of the love of God; one gay young woman in particular, who was lately much prejudiced against "this way", but is now filled with joy unspeakable.'

April 1781: 'I came just in time to put a stop to a bad custom, which was creeping in here [at the parish church?]; a few men, who had fine voices, sang a psalm which no one knew, in a tune fit for an opera, wherein three, four, or five persons sung different words at the same time! What an insult upon common sense! What a burlesque upon public worship! No custom can excuse such a mixture of profaneness and absurdity.'

May 1781: 'Fearing many of the congregation rested in a false peace, I endeavoured to undeceive them by closely applying those words, "Ye shall know them by their fruits." '

April 1784: [Good Friday] 'In the morning I read prayers, preached, and administered the Lord's Supper to a serious congregation. I preached at five again, and believe few were present who did not feel that God was there of a truth.'

April 1788: 'I preached about eleven at Warrington (a cold, uncomfortable place)…'

April 1790: 'About eleven I preached at Warrington. The chapel was well filled with serious hearers…'

  • A. Mounfield in WHS Proceedings, 8 pp.57-61, 81-85; 9 pp.90-92
  • Conference Handbooks, 1939, 1949, 1960
  • Ian Sellers, The Methodist Chapels of the Warrington Circuit, 1750-1971 Warrington, 1976)