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Stowmarket, Suffolk

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The Wesleyans missioned Stowmarket from Bury St Edmunds in 1811 and their first meeting place was the house of a John Lambert. Records for Stowmarket Wesleyanism are scarce, but it appears that after a successful start, the Society had little lasting success. It appears infrequently on early plans and by 1843, although still on the Bury plan, no Sunday services were being held. Members met on alternate Thursdays in a class led by the minister. White’s Directory for 1844 states that there was a Wesleyan chapel in the town, but no Wesleyan congregation or chapel was mentioned in the 1851 Religious Census. By 1866 no members remained; the last, Martha Drake, had transferred her membership to Elmswell.

Primitive Methodists from the Rockland Circuit missioned Stowmarket in 1834 and hired an old salt warehouse for services. The Society met with such success that Stowmarket became the head of a circuit in 1835. A Primitive Methodist chapel was built in 1836, but strangely was not registered as required by law until 1838, when ‘Robert Squirrel of Stowupland, Merchant’ applied for the necessary licence.

The Society then suffered such severe financial problems that the chapel closed for a time. The 1840s saw great hardship especially in the countryside. The year 1849 was marked by a revival and by 1850 three Sunday services were held at the chapel. The 1851 Religious Census return shows that there were 90 adults and 70 scholars in attendance in the morning of the 30th March; 180 adults and 80 scholars in the afternoon and in the evening 250 adults with 50 scholars. Although these figures look as though they have been rounded off, yet there were clearly a good number attending chapel on that day.

In 1891, many circuits from the old Norwich PM District became part of the new Lynn and Cambridge District. Stowmarket with 195 members was one of the circuits which moved. In 1933 the Stowmarket and Hadleigh Primitive Methodist Circuits joined the Ipswich Rope Walk Circuit as part of the Methodist Union reorganisation.

Entry written by: NV
Category: Place

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