Mersea Island Methodist Church History

Mersea Methodist Church

Janet Baker in her book “The Story of the Methodist Church on Mersea Island” recorded, that as far as can be traced, Wesleyan Methodism started on the Island in the early 1830’s, barely 40 years after the death of John Wesley.

Martin Broom (Colchester Methodist History 1998) found a reference to Methodist preaching in a small workhouse on the Island in 1830.

There is evidence that a settled place of Methodist worship was established in a (rented?) barn which stood in the garden of a house to the west of the present school in Barfield Road. White’s Directory of Essex 1863 records that The National School was ‘formerly a chapel to the Wesleyans’.

By 1838, only a year after Queen Victoria came to the throne, a ‘Church’ had definitely been established on the Island, because there was an official ‘Membership Return’ in the annual census of the Methodist Church.

In 1843, there is a comment in Circuit records relating to Mersea, ‘at this place we have no Chapel’ it could have meant there was not an officially owned and registered Chapel because Mersea returned a membership of 36 in 1842 and was on the Plan continuously from the 1840’s. It was, however, not officially registered as a place of worship until 1854.

 The Ecclesiastical Census of 1851 records there were 125 at the morning worship and 116 at the evening, a good proportion of the population of Mersea at that time!

In a document dated 30th August 1861, a Warrant of Satisfaction, which confirms the ownership of a plot of land, was then ’Surrendered’ for £20 in February 1862. A Trust was Declared as to a Wesleyan Chapel on the same date.

Rev William Simpson was the Superintendent Minister of the Colchester Wesleyan Methodist Circuit from 1860 – 1862. It is likely he had pastoral care over the Mersea congregation at that time and would have been very involved in the move of the West Mersea congregation from the weather-boarded barn to the new purpose-built premises in Mill Road.

If you want to read more on the Story of the Methodist Church on Mersea Island by Janet Baker it is available through the Mersea Museum or there are copies at Mersea Methodist Church.