Methodist buildings in Orwell

Background to Methodism in Orwell

“meetings of dissenters from the Church of England calling themselves Methodists”.


It is believed that Methodism came to Orwell when two followers of John Wesley came to preach here on Tuesday May 29th 1759. Revds . Hicks and Berridge preached in the open air at ‘Orwell Field’ and this event is regarded as the start Methodism in the village. In April 1761 Town Green Farmhouse and one of its barns were licensed for The Methodist community, which must have grown and flourished because it was ready to build its own Chapel soon after the turn of the 18th Century.

Building a Meeting house.
Photo:1st Methodist Church

1st Methodist Church

In 1873 The Methodists built a Meeting House, or Chapel, at cost of £150 on Town Green Road in the orchard once owned by the dissenter Richard Barnard. Their numbers were swelled by Cornish Methodists who came to work on the Wimpole Park Estate, and by Yorkshire farming families who had moved south to take up land vacated by bankrupted farmers during the agricultural depression of the late 19th century.

In 1891 it was reported that one hundred and fifty people sat down to the Orwell Methodist Good Friday tea, organised by many of the same people who served on the Church of England social committees of St. Andrew’s Church. Thus the” sectarian divide” was apparently not so deep as tradition would have it.

Photo:Tea at Manor Farm for the laying of foundation stone

Tea at Manor Farm for the laying of foundation stone

Photo:Laying Chapel foundation stone in 1906

Laying Chapel foundation stone in 1906

Some of the major Christian festivals of the year are now celebrated in united services with Orwell’s Methodists at their Church in Town Green Road. This red brick building, with its light and airy interior, and its attached schoolroom, was completed in 1906. The congregation had grown rapidly in the last years of the 19th century, and in January 1906 the Church Trustees decided that a new and bigger church was needed. In May a building tender for £870 was accepted and the old chapel was demolished and its foundation stone relaid in the base of the new church on June 14th. Services were held in a 16th Century barn at Manor Farm (now a private house 28a Town Green Road) until the grand opening of the new church on October 11th 1906 – less than ten months after the project was first discussed!

Photo:Chapel in 1920s

Chapel in 1920s



This page was added by Pat Grigor on 18/09/2012.

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