Diss Methodist Church
Victoria Road, Diss, Norfolk, IP22 4EY
'Much of the violent opposition to the Methodists was promoted or fostered by
alehouse-keepers who rightly saw a loss of trade if Methodism was established locally. ..
An anti-Methodist song of the period was lustily sung by the Diss rioters (defenders of
the established church) - "The Wesleyans have come to town to try to pull the churches
down" - For further details of the violence see the above book, pages 49-53.
'Methodism grew in strength and when Wesley came on October 20th 1790 there was
a lot of Wesleyan sympathy in the town, so that the Rector the Rev. William Manning
was agreeable to lend Wesley his church but feared the Bishop might object. However,
when the liberal-minded evangelical Bishop George Horne was asked, he said:
"Mr. Wesley is a brother. Let him have the church."
Wesley had indeed outlived persecution against himself and was now accorded respect
on all sides: Churches shut to him for fifty years were opened, even Bishops honoured
him, and clergy flocked to hear him. He was a national figure. He came to Diss by chaise
travelling from Lynn via Stoke Ferry and Thetford.
By an accident he was two hours late arriving, but the crowd that packed the church
waited patiently. Wesley surmised "I suppose it had not be so filled these hundred years".
He preached from Isaiah - 'Seek ye the Lord while he may be found'.
He was now five months from his death.
On this last visit to Norfolk, the ‘Bury Post’ of October 27th 1790 reports: ‘Wednesday
morning; last the celebrated Mr. John Wesley preached a sermon in the Parish church of
Diss to a crowded congregation and the same evening and succeeding morning and
evening he also preached at the Methodist meeting in the town to very crowded
assemblies. The indefatigable labours of this venerable old gentleman, now in his 89th
year of his age, are truly astonishing.'
‘Diss had been in the wide Norwich circuit, but in 1790 separated to form its own circuit.
It had 310 members in 1791. In 1793 there were the following seventeen societies with
Diss, Mellis, Gissing, Redgrave, Wortham, Winfarthing, Buckenham, Long Stratton,
Hardwick, Tasburgh, Hethersett, Spooner Row, Attleborough, Snetterton, Old
Buckenham, Lopham and Hoxne. All these societies, except Diss, worshipped in houses.'
Extracts from 'The spreading flame'
by Cyril Jolly
'In 1770 Thomas Lee of Keighley; Yorkshire,
came and preached in the Market Place. He was
not exactly welcomed at Diss - a town which
Wesley termed "one of the most wicked in the
`Like Wesley's other preachers, he was taking
the Gospel to the poor...
In Diss, as elsewhere, many of the poor did not
want to hear!'
'Among the crowd who attacked him was a boy
of about eight years, named George Taylor. He
became a local Methodist hero (He was
converted under the ministry of Captain
Thomas Webb when he was about twenty,
came back to Diss, hired a house in Roydon and
had it licensed for preaching.)
`There was considerable opposition; once,
several soldiers entered and filled most of the
seats and started smoking... at another time a
crowd tied the door from the outside and then
blew asafoetida through the keyhole. The door
was eventually forced open and the choking
congregation reached the fresh air.'
The best loved man in England.
John Wesley in 1787, aged 84
By William Hamilton.