The History of Oundle Methodist Church

Methodism came to Oundle sometime before 1810 and in these early years, Oundle formed part of the Stamford Circuit. By 1830, Oundle, although still part of the Stamford Circuit, seems to have been a centre of Methodism in the area. A map amongst the Methodist papers at the County Record Office suggests that, already in the 1830s, Oundle was ready to evangelise the surrounding villages. At that time, the Oundle Methodists worshipped in a chapel later described as "a substantial stoned and slated freehold building …… situate in Chapel End, Oundle, with an extensive granary or chamber over the same". Tradition has it that part of New House now stands on the site of this first chapel. The name Chapel End was used for West Street and Stoke Hill.

In 1840 the Stamford Circuit was divided and a new Oundle Circuit, consisting of Oundle and eleven neighbouring societies was created. The first baptismal registers dating from the same year can be seen at the Record Office. The first name on the register is that of Eliza, daughter of Valentine and Elizabeth Brudenell of Warmington.

In 1842 a new chapel in West Street was built and registered and the old chapel was sold by public auction. Alterations were made to the building in the 1860s and in 1886 "an imposing front of rough local stone with Bath stone dressings" was added, which suggests that the society was flourishing.

A number of records have survived to shed light on the conduct of the society during the 19th century. An early account book lists the names of some of the church members at the time when the chapel was built. A circuit plan of 1846 shows the names of the ministers and local preachers who travelled round the circuit, preaching at different churches each Sunday as they do today, except that in the 1840s they must often have travelled on foot. Oundle remained a separate circuit until 1965 when it became part of the Peterborough Circuit. The general notices at the foot of a surviving plan for 1906 give some idea of the church life of the time and show how heavily the society depended on all its members in its activities.


Where have we come from?

Why are we here?

Where are we going?


Our church has an amazing story to tell and it is good to retell it at intervals to renew our sense of purpose.

In the 1960s the congregation dropped to single figures. Although the numbers started to rise in the following years, in 1981 we made a leap of faith by selling the old building on West Street, not knowing where we would go, but hoping to buy the old Oundle telephone exchange when it became available. We began to worship in borrowed rooms (The Brereton Rooms), upstairs, loaned to us by the Parish Church. A year later, all our enquiries regarding the old telephone exchange had come to nought and we were beginning in desperation to look at other properties for sale. However, a family from our church took a holiday in the Cotswolds in 1982 and on the Sunday found themselves forced by circumstances to worship in a particular church (not the one they would have chosen), at a particular time. After the service, the steward greeted them and, on discovering they were from Oundle, responded that he had been involved in the development of a new telephone exchange there! He promised to keep in touch having given the vital information that the disposal of redundant telephone exchanges was the job of his colleague on the next desk to him in his office 40 miles away. Things moved very slowly (with GPO becoming BT), but eventually the building was stripped of its equipment and was placed in the hands of an estate agent. We were the first to know about it and were able to meet the estate agent when he visited the property for an initial reconnoitre. Estate agents have little practice in selling redundant telephone exchanges and we were present as he considered possible asking prices. To our relief the method of sale was not by the usual "sealed tender". Planning permission was only available for "community use" and there was little competition for the purchase.

After four long years "in the wilderness" the money from the sale of our old West Street premises had grown sufficiently to cover the purchase price of the new building in Drumming Well Lane. A gift day held on the day we received the keys (held amongst the festoons of old wire hanging from the ceiling) brought in what we needed for converting (good word!) the building for our use. We also received a generous legacy during that four years. 

The beautiful cross at the front of the church, made by one of our members, incorporates wood from one of the pews from West Street, a reminder of our former home.

From sale of the old building to establishing the new, it was clear to us that God had had a hand in the process at every stage, helping affairs along behind the scenes and our "man in BT" confirmed part of this afterwards when he told us that he had been in charge of the process as our purchase had gone through!

Surely, no-one can hear or read this story without realising that God wanted us to be where we are now - and we must ask Why? What for? Surely not just to make us comfortable and cosy and provide a pleasant place for Lent Lunches, Adult Education and the like! Clearly God has a vision and purpose in planting us here and it is up to us to respond to his giving in worship and praise and service. The members of the church and their influence and outreach in the community are a constant subject of those prayers.

God gave this message to another church approaching a growth phase: "I am building my church in this place. I am not calling you now to gather more stones, for they are all here on site. But they are scattered and separate. I will build my church with these stones, but for this to happen they must be joined to each other, cemented together in love. As that happens, those who are hurt and needy will be drawn to this place. They will find shelter from the storm, and strength and refreshment to go and serve Me in the world. But, remember, those stones must be built together, cemented together in love, if my church is to be built."

Planted firmly and deeply in the fertile soil of God's love, we have grown both as individuals and as a church, sharing our doubts and fears and deepest needs as well as our love and joy and praise and thanksgiving. Now, we believe that God is calling us to gather more of those "stones" and so to enable others to experience the love, care and fellowship which Jesus offers through the community of his Church on earth. And to God be all the glory.

The beautiful cross at the front of the church, made by one of our members, incorporates wood from one of the pews from West Street, a reminder of our former home. 

We have extended the building twice since we moved in.  In 1990, we added a lobby and a store room, and our small meeting room was dedicated on Pentecost Sunday 1995.  We have also added an audio and PA system, and a loop for those with hearing difficulties.

More recently the store room, which we had used for a creche for a time, has been converted into an office. 

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