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Canterbury

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John Wesley paid the first of 39 visits in 1750. The 'Round-house' or 'Pepper-box' chapel, King Street, opened in 1764, was replaced by St Peter's Street (designed by William Jenkins) in 1812. Canterbury belonged to the widespread London Circuit until 1765. A Day School opened in premises behind the chapel in 1871, with new classrooms added in 1877, and Kent College for Boys opened in 1885. The Religious Census of 1851 records 1,100 seats and an average attendance in the morning of 418, in the afternoon 82 and in the evening 828.

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St. Peter's still looks much the same outside but the inside has undergone changes over the years.Originally there was an oval gallery with the organ below the central three-decker pulpit said to have been modelled on the one in Wesley\'s Chapel in City Road, London. The communion table stood behind it and was curved to fit against the wall; it was sold when alterations were carried out in 1976. Earlier alterations had cut back the gallery, set the pulpit to one side, lowered it by one tier and put choir pews at right angles to the apse on either side of the dais. . The communion rail remained across the apse. In 1976 the sanctuary area was enlarged and the pulpit lowered even more. The latest alterations, leaving the church with greater flexibility, were completed in 1998.

A PM chapel in St. John's Place, Northgate was registered in 1839 as part of a mission under the HullCircuit; it became a separate Circuit in 1859. In 1851 the chapel was recorded as having 100 free sittings and 400 'others', with a morning attendance of 62, and 100 in the evening. A new chapel opened in The Borough in 1876.

The former WM and PM circuits were amalgamated in 1936, and the two town societies, St. Peter's and The Borough, were united at the same time, with the Borough premises being used for youth work.

Quotations

John Wesley's Journal:

January 1750: 'The congregation in ther evening was deeply serious, and most of them present again at five in the morning. I hope God will again have much people in this place, who will worship Him with more knowledge and as much earnestness as their forefathers did the Virgin Mary, or even St. Thomas a Becket.'

December 1750: 'A few turbulent people made a little noise as I found it was their custom to do. Perceiving more of them were gathered the next night, I turned and spoke to them at large. They appeared to be not a little confounded, and went away as quiet as lambs.'

October 1758: 'I found reason to rejoice over this little flock, now free from all divisions and offences.'

August 1764: 'I … opened our new chapel by preaching on "One thing is needful".'

Visitation Returns from Canterbury parishes:

1758: St. Alphage: Six reputed Methodists, all of low rank. St. Andrew: Four Methodists… I have only to add that that the Methodists attend Church and the Sacrament ver regularly. St. Margaret's: Methodists have a Meeting-House here even in yourt Grace's Palace to which great numbers of the lower sort, though few of an Note resort. The Teacher's nam e is Perronet, whether ther number is lessened or increased I cannot say. St. Mildred's: Of Methodists, one family, who however constantly attend divine Service on the Lord's Day, & the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, whenever administered.

1786: St.Alphege with St. Mary Northgate: Many people in this Town go to the Cathedral in the mornng; to the Pesbyterian Meeting in the aftrnoon, and to a Methodist Meeting at Night. - The number of this people is not likely to be lessened.

1806: St. Cross: [5 Methodist families reported ] who attend Meeting, but not the Church. ]

Sources

  • John A. Vickers, The Story of Canterbury Methodism (1961)

Entry written by: JAV
Category: Place

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