John Wesley is said to have preached ‘to the gentry’ in the town in 1749, but there is no mention of this in his Journal. The date of the earliest Methodist society there is not known. It may have been introduced from Clee Hill, where there is evidence of an 18th century chapel and graveyard.

The first Wesleyan chapel in the town was built in Lower Broad Street in 1800. By 1832 there was said to be a congregation of about 300 and galleries were added to the building. It was replaced in 1879 at a cost of £4,650 by a new chapel in Broad Street on the site of the former Crown Inn (once visited by Princess Victoria). Free of debt by 1895, it was renovated and reopened that year and survived virtually unchanged until the major renovation of 2005. Schoolrooms were built behind the chapel in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The earlier chapel was sold that year. It was used for a while as an ice rink and is now a private house.

Primitive Methodism reached Ludlow from the Darlaston Mission to Hopton Bank on Clee Hill in the 1820s, meeting in private houses in Ludlow from perhaps 1822. Their first chapel, built in Old Street in 1836 was later used by the Brethren and was demolished in the 1980s. It was replaced by a large new chapel on Old Street in 1871, sold in the 1950s after Methodist Union for secular uses. A second chapel, built in New Street in 1870, served the East Hamlet area. A larger chapel was then built in New Road in 1879 and called the ‘Sandpits Chapel’, changed to ‘Zion, East Hamlet’ in 1928. The former chapel became the schoolroom before it was sold and converted into a house. In 1955, Zion was modernised, with electricity replacing gas lighting and the pipe organ installed from the former Old Street chapel.

Conversations about joining the two societies of Broad Street and Zion continued through the ‘90s and it was agreed to sell both properties and build a new church. No suitable site was however available and by 2002 outline plans were drawn up to modernise the Broad Street church. In 2004 Zion closed; the building was sold and converted into four houses.

The present Broad Street church reopened as Ludlow Methodist Church in 2006, after extensive redevelopment. It incorporates an ecumenical café, Wesley’s, facing the street and leading through a folding glass screen into the worship area, seating about 130, with further seating in the galleries. All areas are accessible by lift and all toilets are disabled friendly. A new porch at the rear of the building gives access to the school rooms which are well used by the community. The 'new' church was first used for the morning service on 19 February 2006, Wesley’s opened at Easter that year and the whole building formally rededicated on 20 May 2006.

Across the road from the Broad Street Church and Wesley’s is a house bought by Charles Wesley’s father-in-law, Marmaduke Gwynne, in 1749, now marked by a blue plaque.

  • 125 years at Zion Methodist Church (2004)
  • To Serve the Present Age (2006)

Entry written by: AW
Category: Place
Comment on this entry