Methodism came to Wandsworth in the 1740s and John Wesley, Father of
Methodism, preached there on Monday, November 14th, to a little company
"with the rabble gathered on every side". Wesley rode there
regularly until his last recorded visit in February 1790.
But it was only in the early 1840s that there can be any certainty that
the Methodists arrived in Putney, renting poor little buildings for small
congregations developed by 1860 into an outreach work of the Hammersmith Circuit.
There was no success and by 1864, despite preaching by the well-liked
Richmond ministerial students, Methodism 'completely died out'. Putney
had 5000 inhabitants, but no apparent place for the people called Methodists.
Not for long! In March 1865, Messrs Tidmarsh, Halling and Leyard, took a room,
a laundry, and Putney was placed on the Wandsworth Preachers' Plan. By March 1869
quarterly Meeting, the Superintendent Minister, reported that a suitable
piece of ground had been secured in the Upper Richmond Road, sufficient
for the erection of a commodious church to seat a thousand persons. Putney
still had barely 10,000 inhabitants.
It was felt prudent to start with a 'school-chapel'. By October 1870, it was
ready for dedication. The laundry was 'given up'; but, by 1880 the population
had passed 13,000.
Further, compulsory purchase of part of the 'school chapel' for drainage,
forced the Methodists to think big or not at all and by 16th November 1881,
they were laying the foundation stones of the thousand-seater chapel. It
was a hugely important occasion.
The church was in Early English Gothic with picked stock bricks, with Bath
Stone dressings. The President preached on 'Then the people rejoiced for
that they offered willingly'. The collection was nearly £80.00 and
the stones were laid with a mallet recently used by the Archbishop of
Canterbury for a similar Anglican ceremony.
By May 4th, 1882, the 1002 seater church was complete, further the total
cost of just under £6000 was met, and the Wesleyans could write
"After a chequered career Methodism in Putney may now be considered
to have taken up a prominent and permanent position".
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