Oswestry, Croesoswallt in Welsh is an English market town on the North Wales/ English border.

Although there is no recorded evidence that John Wesley preached in Oswestry he does record in his diary that on Thursday 26 March 1789 he stopped in Oswestry at 8 am for a drink of tea. Wesley was on his way to Holyhead by horse and chaise to catch the ferry to Ireland.

The English speaking Wesleyans were active in Oswestry in the late 1700s and in 1811 the Oswestry Circuit was formed with James Fussell (1783-1839) as the missionary. The Wesleyans built a chapel in Corney Street, Salop Road which was opened on 26 January 1812. As the congregations increased they needed to replace the old chapel with a more commodious building. In 1822 Oswestry was placed in the North Wales Wrexham Circuit. In 1865 the Conference re-instated the Oswestry Circuit. About the same time the Circuit bought a timber yard in Beatrice Street as the site for a new chapel. The chapel, costing around £2000 was opened on 28th February 1871 when the preacher was Rev. Dr Frederick Jobson (1812-1881). The Corney Street building was sold to the Good Templars temperance organisation.

Seion Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Chapel. Around 1800 the devout Miss Susanna Evans, affectionately known as Aunty Susan saw the need to have the Gospel preached in Welsh in Oswestry. She occasionally held Welsh language services in her own home which caused her to be evicted on a number of occasions. In 1811 a small chapel and house were built in Castle Street, Welsh Walls. Soon there was need for a larger chapel which was built in 1836. When this building was too small for the number of worshippers a new chapel was built and opened in 1837. The 1851 religious census recorded the number of worshippers in the morning were 103 and 139 in the evening. In 1869 the building was demolished and rebuilt. Around 1900 this chapel was deemed to be too far from the centre of the town so chapels were built in Albert Road and also in Oswald Road which held services in English. These three formed the Welsh Calvinist Methodist Circuit.

In May 1823, Oswestry was first visited by the Primitive Methodist preacher William Doughty, (1798-1863). He was sent by the Burland (Cheshire) circuit. He preached in a friend’s yard, without interruption. When he preached in Oswestry the following day he was interrupted by the village constable who brought him before the mayor who asked him not to preach in the area. William Doughty refused the mayor’s order and was sent to prison. The next time Doughty preached in Oswestry many were converted and a Society was formed. The Primitive Methodists first worshipped in a damp property in Oakhurst Road known as ‘The Cold Bath’. They held their first service on 12 December 1824. After 15 years the ‘Cold Bath’ building was not large enough for the growing size of the congregation so in 1840 they bought the corner site in Castle Street and Chapel Street. They opened their purpose build Ebenezer chapel on 20 December 1840. The 1851 religious census records that in the Sunday afternoon service there were 60 worshippers and in the evening there were 110. At the morning Sunday school there were 29 children and in the evening 28 children. On 15 September 1868 foundation stones were laid for an extension on the adjoining land which was opened 24 January 1869. Twenty years later more land was bought on which they built a school room which was opened in 1891. Three years later the extended premises were too small for the congregation so they decided to plan and raise funds for a new building on the site of their existing chapel. This was opened 23 March 1899.

Welsh Wesleyan Methodists built their Bethesda chapel in Penylan Lane in 1856. This was replaced by the Horeb chapel which they built in Victoria Road. Horeb eventually joined the Welsh speaking Calvinistic Methodist Circuit and services were held on alternate Sundays in the Welsh Wesleyan chapel and the Calvinistic Methodist chapel.

There was an Independent Methodist cause in the town before 1822. They built a chapel in Beatrice Street. The 1851 religious census records that there were 30 people at the afternoon service and in the evening there were 60. 30 children attended the Sunday School.

The United Methodist Free Churches first erected a preaching room and Sunday- school in Gibraltar Place, Church Street. On Sunday 12 July 1868 they opened their architecturally designed 'iron tabernacle' chapel in Castle Street. It was described at the time as a neat structure, lined with varnished wood, which seated 150 worshippers. In 1870 they held a special service to celebrate their purchase of a new harmonium. In 1877, they had only 24 members.


Camarthen Journal 25 January 1812, page 3 Wrexham and Denbighshire Advertiser 18 July 1868, page 8 Wrexham and Denbighshire Advertiser 14 November 1868, page 8 Wrexham and Denbighshire Advertiser 20 February 1869, page 8

  • Oswestry Advertiser, 13 April 1870, page 5.
  • Oswestry Advertiser, 1 June 1870, page 1.
  • Wrexham and Denbighshire Advertiser, 25 February 1871, page 4.
  • Shropshire Magazine, October 2006, page 4.
  • Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1841, pages 171-174.
  • David Young, The Origin And History Of Methodism In Wales And The Borders, (London: C.H. Kelly, 1893).
  • A. Mounfield (ed.), A Short History of Independent Methodism (Warrington: Mackie & Co. Ltd, 1905).

Entry written by: DHR
Category: Place
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