In 1801 Hove had a population of only 101, compared with over 7,000 in neighbouring Brighton. Hove was far less hilly than Brighton and the nineteenth century saw some impressive housing developments, with squares and crescents for the wealthy leading down to the sea. Hove gradually absorbed neighbouring parishes and in 1997 united with Brighton to form a new city.
Having formed a society in Brighton in 1804, the Wesleyans also formed one in Hove, with about a dozen members in 1809; but it survived for only a few years. Later attempts were made; a preaching place was reported in the 1851 religious census and Hove is mention on an 1854 preaching plan. But it was not until 1883, when an iron chapel, moved from Preston Road, Brighton, was re-erected on a site in Bertram Road that WM obtained a permanent footing. On this site, now called Portland Road, the present Hove Methodist church in ‘gothic-Romanesque’ style, was opened in 1896, with the Rev Robert Bond as its first minister (1896-1899). Many years later, in 1938, he paid a return visit as President of the Conference. Among his successors was C.F. Hunter (1905-1908), the author of several local preachers’ textbooks. Major improvements to the premises were made in 1964 and 1992.
Other Methodist denominations had meanwhile tried to establish societies in Hove. A small BC society was formed in 1827, but had disappeared by 1832. Only with their expansion under the ministry of Samuel Brown Lane did they open a chapel in Old Shoreham Road in 1905. Sadly the housing development this was intended to serve did not take place; by 1936 the cause was in trouble and the building was sold in 1950.
Under the Rev. William Dinnick a PM chapel was opened in Goldstone Villas, near the present Hove station, in 1878. It was shared with the Wesleyans while they were replacing their iron chapel in the 1890s, but was closed in 1933, following Methodist Union. The former WM Portland Road chapel survives as the only Methodist church in Hove today.
Portslade, just to the north, became part of Hove in 1974 and is now included in the city of Brighton and Hove. Attempts to establish Methodist societies there did not long survive. The Primitive Methodists opened a church at Bampfield Street in 1881 but this was never a strong society and closed in 1941. The Wesleyans opened a church in Franklin Road in 1907 but this closed in 1963.. After World War II an attempt was made to open a church on a new housing estate at Mile Oak in north Portslade but by 1958 this venture also closed.