Deal, Kent

Both Charles Wesley in 1736 and his brother John in 1738 landed at Deal on their return from America. A local tradition says that John Wesley preached there on some unknown date. But Methodism was not established in the town until the early 19th century. In 1805 a site was obtained for a chapel in Duke Street, built in 1806 at a cost of some £600-750, of which £448 was raised by private subscriptions. It was at first called 'Ebenezer'.

Deal became the head of a separate Wesleyan Circuit in 1817. Considerable alterations and additions were made to the chapel between then and 1866, including a schoolroom at the back in 1835 to hold 150 scholars. A new school was built in 1860 in Union Road, just behind the chapel and on 7 February 1866 a new chapel was opened on the corner of West Street and Union Road. (Some of the stone used in its construction came from the demolition of Sandown Castle.)

The singing was at first led by a small orchestra of flute, clarinet and violin. An organ, built by the local firm of Browne's, was not introduced until 1878.

About that time a small Primitive Methodist chapel was built in Park Street, seating about 100. The premises later housed Deal's first public library.

In 1900 a scheme was launched to build what was opened as 'Wesley Hall' the following year. Some 150 Wesleyans from the Royal Marines Barracks paraded there on Sunday mornings and during World War I services were held there because of the difficulty of blacking out the church windows.

Two other Methodist churches were built in the area, one in Station Road, Walmer, popularly known as the 'tin Tabernacle',and one in Mill Hill, 'Havelock Hall', to serve the mining community there and named after the Rev. J.Havelock Thompson, who had been stationed locally in 1927-36 and retired locally.

In the early1960s, after much discussion, it was agreed that the three churches in Deal and Walmer should be replaced by one new church in Deal. On Easter Sunday 1965 the three congregations began worshipping together in Wesley Hall; on 18 June 1966 the foundation stone for a new church was laid, and in June 1967 this was officially opened on the West Street/Union Road site by the District Chairman, the Rev. Ronald Ducker, with an address by the Rev. Leslie Davison from the Home Missions Department. Deal and Dover Circuits became one that year and in the 1980s the Methodist and URC churches in Deal were united to form Trinity Church.


Episcopal Visitation Return, 1786:

'… nor at his time, any Methodists; tho' an attempt was lately made to establish a Tabernacle in ye Parish; but by the Zeal & Activity of ye Parish Officers they have been dispersed.'

Entry written by: SJSB
Category: Place
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