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Andover

Methodism was introduced into the town by Francis Hill, an excise officer stationed near Whitchurch. John Wesley preached there in January 1759 and in September 1760. He described his hearers as 'a few dead stones' and did not return again despite a number of visits to nearby Whitchurch.

A house in Back Street was licensed for worship in January 1761 and the certificate named John Haime, who had retired to the town, as 'pastor'. A chapel was later built in Shepherd's Spring Lane, replaced in 1824 by a church in Winchester Street (then known as Brick Kiln Street). Like the establishment of causes in several of the villages, this owed much to the support of Harry Noyes of Thruxton. When it was replaced in 1906 by Bridge Street, Winchester Street was sold to the Salvation Army. Bridge Street underwent a major refurbishment in 2000.

Andover became a separate circuit in 1818, acquiring a second minister in 1825, despite having the smallest membership of any circuit in the area. Andover itself trailed behind the Whitchurch society, with adult congregations of 40 afternoon and evening on Census Sunday in 1851, compared with 110 and 150 reported at Whitchurch.

The town was missioned for the PMs in the spring of 1833 by George Wallis, with support from neighbouring villages. There was considerable hostilty to the preaching. The circuit that was formed in 1837 had no fewer than four itinerants, but no chapels. The first chapel was built in East Street in 1838. In the 1851 census Andover reported an adult attendance of 78, 50 and 120 at the three services, figures exceeded, as with the WMs, only at Whitchurch.

Following Methodist Union, the WM and PM circuits were amalgamated in 1937 and were joined in 1948 by the (former PM) Micheldever circuit to form Andover Trinity Circuit. St. Andrew's, Weyhill Road, was opened in 1957.

Quotations

John Wesley's Journal:

October 1759: 'I determined to try if I could do any good at Andover. The congregation at ten in the morning was small; in the evening their number was increased, and I think some of them went away crying out, "God be merciful to me, a sinner!" '

November 1760: 'I preached about nine, at Andover, to a few dead stones.'

Sources

  • Bernard R.K. Paintin, Since Wesley Came to Andover (Andover, 1951)
  • Tom Hiscock, 1906-2006, Bridge Street Methodist Church, the first hundred years (Andover, 2006)
  • David J Borrett, 'Primitive Methodim and the birth of the Andover Circuit', in An Andover Miscellany (2008) pp.9-25

Category: Place

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