John Wesley recorded in his Journal that as early as 26 September 1738 he ‘declared the gospel of peace to a small company at Windsor’, the first of fourteen visits. He mentions a society there in 1748, but did not return after 1750. There is no further record of Methodist activity in the town until 1800, when a John Ould attended a prayer meeting there. His house appears to have been the meeting place until a small chapel was built in 1816 in Bier Lane (later renamed River Street), with a gallery added in 1825.
In 1837 this was replaced by a larger chapel down a passage off Peascod Street (now part of King Edward Court shopping centre), which in turn was replaced by the Alma Road chapel in 1877. There were major renovations and extensions in 1906, 1961 and 1993.
In Old Windsor the Gospel Hall, opened in 1897 by a group of evangelicals, was taken over by the Methodists in 1952 and celebtated its 60th anniversary by a major refurbishment in 2012.
The Primitive Methodists launched a Windsor mission in 1839 as part of the Reading Circuit, following a visit to the town by John Ride and Aaron Bell the previous year. It was renamed the Maidenhead Branch in 1845 and then became the Maidenhead Circuit. A chapel was opened in Denmark Street in 1853. In 1882 Windsor became the head of a separate circuit . But the society struggled and soon after the First World War had declined to the point where the chapel closed and was sold to the Church of England.
Meanwhile the Wesleyans at Alma Road were very active, with evangelical work among the garrison at Windsor Barracks, among young people through the Sunday School and a Wesley Guild from 1897. Over the years a young Wives’ Club, an evening Ladies’ Club, a Men’s Meeting and a drama group have flourished. A Scout troop was formed in 1915. Following Methodist Union in 1932 Alma Road became Windsor Methodist Church. In the 1990s redevelopment the steeple was removed, the sanctuary was relocated to the first floor, with meeting rooms and a kitchen on the ground floor and a new entrance hall. The original porch is now a small chapel at one corner of the premises open every day for anyone to spend time in prayer or just sit quietly for a time.
John Wesley's Journal:
May 1741: 'I found here also a few who have peace with God and are full of love both to Him and to one another.'
June 1741: 'In the afternoon I expounded at Windsor the story of the Pharisee and Publican.'
September 1742: 'A little before twelve I came to Windsor. I was soon informed that a large number of the rabble had combined together, and declared, again and again, there should be no preaching there that day. In order to make all sure they had provided gunpowder enough and other things some days before. But Burnham Fair [held on 21st September] coming between, they agreed to go thither first and have a little diversion there. Accordingly they went, and bestowed a few crackers upon their brother-mob at Burnham. But these, not being Methodists, did not take it well, turned upon them, and gave them chase. They took shelter in a house. But that would not serve; for those without soon forced a way in, and seized on as many as they could find, who, upon information made, were sent to jail. The rest ran away, so that when I came none hindered or interrupted.'
November 1748: 'I rode to Windsor, and, after preaching, examined the members of the society.'
November 1750: 'I rode through a violent storm to Windsor, and preached to a little serious congregation.'