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History - The First Chapel - part 1

The Start On 20th March 1738, the Rev. John Wesley preached for the first time in the town from the steps of a house near the George Hotel.

If we take this event as marking the starting point of Methodism in Knutsford, then the opening of the present church in 1865 followed an already-established history of over 120 years of Methodist-style worship in the town. The very same steps from which it is believed that Wesley preached are now preserved (presented to the Chapel in 1932) in front of the current church building.

An attached plaque quotes an entry from Wesley's diary at the time. Thirty seven years later (April 1775) John Wesley, then aged 72, returned and preached again in Knutsford, this time in a room near the Cross Keys Inn.

He recalled, "The house would by no means contain the congregation. The street too was filled; and even those who could not hear were silent. This is uncommon, especially in a town little accustomed to this strange way of preaching: those who cannot hear themselves usually taking care to hinder others from hearing."

The influence of Methodism across the country actually evolved as a Society within the Church of England. The initially small band of Knutsford Methodists grew in the same way, its members continuing to attend the Parish Church for morning services (and Communion) but also holding their own separate meetings in hired rooms and private houses.

In 1789 the group established its own Sunday School but it was not in fact until 1796, two year's after Wesley's death and twenty one years after his second visit to the town, that the Knutsford Society of Wesleyan Methodists, having resolved "To build a place of worship that should be both commodious and respectable", finally achieved their goal.


Articles for the history archive of the website