13 December 2023
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, travelled far and wide to spread The Good News, visiting communities across the land.
Last month the Lincolnshire town of Grantham celebrated its two visits from John Wesley with a plaque unveiled by the Rev’d Andy Fyall, chair of Nottingham and Derby Methodist District and co-president of the East Midlands Wesley History Society.
Ruth Crook is treasurer of Grantham Civic Society and a historian. She arranged the plaque’s installation and has supported the local Methodist/URC LEP in the past by writing a brief history of Methodism in the town. Ruth researched John’s visits, commenting, “We are fortunate to have an accurate account of John Wesley’s life, because he kept a diary which is readily available.”
On Tuesday 17th February 1747, John Wesley was making his way to Grantham but at Stamford he was met by heavy snowfall and drifts blocking the way so decided to stay the night at Great Casterton. The following morning, Wednesday 18th February, the roads were still said to be impassable, but John and his supporters decided to set off, leading their horses. They reached the White Lion on Grantham Marketplace, where they rested. Now known as Lindpet House, this is where the plaque has been placed.
John and his team set off for Newark, passing a clergyman on the road. Wesley said that he did not talk to him, because he had toothache and it had closed his mouth.
Wesley returned on Monday 9th July 1781, when he preached to a large crowd at the back of a house on Watergate because they could not find any building large enough to accommodate the crowd, he then preached in Newark in the afternoon.
Revd Andy Fyall, Chair of Nottingham and Derby Methodist District and co-president of the East Midlands Wesley History Society attended the unveiling. He commented, “It was my privilege and pleasure to be present for the unveiling of the plaque and doubly so having been asked to unveil it. Like Wesley before me it offered the opportunity to follow in our founder’s footsteps and ‘submit to become more vile’ by speaking in the open air at Grantham Market Place!
“I had the opportunity to remember John Wesley and his travels during which he shared the Gospel and challenged injustices in his day have become a vital legacy to Methodism in the Twenty-first Century. All of this to a gathered crowd of folk from Christchurch Grantham, members of Grantham Civic Society and interested by-standers. Blue plaques and evangelism can be very good partners!!
Ruth commented, “Wesley was an important man and we felt that his visits needed marking. Grantham Civic Society places blue plaques and signboards around the town to promote its rich history. John Wesley joins other illustrious people who are celebrated in the town including Isaac Newton.”