Bakewell Bridge

History of Methodism in Bakewell

The Early Years: The First Methodists in Bakewell

          Although there is no record in John Wesley's Journals of any visit to Bakewell, there is a local tradition that Wesley did hold services in the town, in an old cottage in Church Lane, built more than 500 years ago. Wesley is stated to have stood in the old dining room, near the fireplace, with forms placed across the room for his congregation. This cottage was for many years the home of the Noton family, and it was demolished some years ago, regretfully, perhaps, without any reference to its possible previous use by the founder of Methodism.

           However, it was not many years later that Methodism developed in the town. White Watson the local sculptor, mineralogist, antiquarian and geologist, and the author of 'Derbyshire Strata' who died in 1835 and, who lived at Bath House, (the headquarters of the local branch of the British Legion in 1967) wrote a diary and one of his entries reads "About 1777 Samuel Smith, breeches maker, was the first dissenter here who followed Wesley."

           The name Smith figures prominently in the early history of Bakewell Methodism and no doubt Samuel or his descendants were among those who paved the way to the building in 1799 of the first Methodist Chapel in Bakewell. This chapel was on the site in Matlock Street now occupied by London House. When it ceased to be a place of worship it was apparently demolished.

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