A CHURCH BUILT FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE
1817 Methodists first
started meeting in Uppingham in ‘Charles Peach’s
Schoolroom’, which was probably at his home in High Street East. Charles Peach
a schoolmaster, therefore the Church was likely to
have had a work amongst children from the beginning, probably teaching them to
read, using the Bible.
1818 The first Methodist
Baptisms took place in Uppingham, the Minister
travelling from Oakham, probably on foot, and staying
with members of the Church.
1819 The Chapel was built
at a cost of £486 13s 3d.
By 1827 there were 27 members, organised into
‘Classes’. The Class Leader had a pastoral responsibility for the members,
caring for their physical and spiritual welfare.
In 1838, Mary
Drake, daughter of one of the founding members, married the Minister Rev John
Bell who became a missionary. Mary and Mr Bell travelled to Nevis in the West
Indies straight after their wedding.
Mary gave birth to a son in August 1839 and
Rev John Bell died of yellow fever a few weeks later. Mary and the child
survived the voyage home and Mary lived in Uppingham
for the rest of her life.
The Drake family were prominent members for several
generations from the founding of the church until the 1950s.
The Church has gone through ‘ups and downs’ throughout
its’ 193 years, but by 1872 it had grown enough to need rebuilding and
extending to the size it is today.
It is likely that the refurbishments were
carried out by Henry Drake, a Stonemason. He built Wistaria
House in Ayston Road for himself as well as many
cottages and buildings in Uppingham.
In 1887 a Schoolroom was added at the back (now the
Towards the end of the nineteenth century women began to hold office in
the Church for the first time, and moving into the twentieth century many
social and fundraising activities were held as well as
Missionary Meetings and
Choir Concerts. A pipe organ was installed in 1913. Electricity was not connected until just before World War
World War II saw the evacuation of the Methodist school, Kingswood, to
the town. The Methodists gave them a warm welcome and very good links were
forged leading to a revitalisation of the Church.
When Kingswood left in 1946,
boards were presented between the school and the church, expressing the
appreciation of mutual help.
After the war,
numbers again declined, even leading to closure of the Sunday School, but fortunately in the 1970’s new families came to
the town and things took off again. The rooms at the back of the Chapel
had been let as a shop, were converted into a vestry
By the 1990’s the whole of the buildings were in a bad
state of repair, and not suitable for modern needs. The Crossroads Project was
launched, and in excess of £180,000 was raised.
In 1999, the building you see today was completed and
reopened, ready for a new century of Christian service to Uppingham
In 2010 Uppingham Methodist is a thriving fellowship with
approximately 40 members.
Further information: records will be found in the Record Office for
Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland leics.gov.uk/recordoffice
Uppingham Local History Studies Group be contacted at
email@example.com and has a website
There are several
publications on aspects of the history of Uppingham Methodist
Church. Details of these can be found on the website of Uppingham
Local History Studies Group
and other articles by Margaret Stacey, which are on the 'what's new'