The best loved man in England.
John Wesley in 1787, aged 84
By William Hamilton.
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 kingdom."
`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.'
'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
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
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.'
Return to top of Page
Diss Methodist church built 1833
Diss Methodist church built 1964
The Governor of the workhouse on Diss common, Mr.
Hey, and his wife, sought a
chapel site, and in March 178l, a plot of land near the Pound, Diss was bought, and the
first church was later built on it. It is thought that the first building was erected in
1789. A certificate was granted on the 4th June. Charles Farmough was Pastor.
A schoolroom was added to this chapel in 1819 and the chapel itself re-built in 1833,
being called the Victoria Road chapel.'
from 'The spreading flame' by Cyril Jolly.
Deterioration over the years led to the closing of the chapel in 1961 and until July 1962
the services were held in the schoolroom. The Methodists then moved out and shared
services with the Congregationalists. The church was pulled down and taken over by a
development company who erected shops and flats known as `Mavery House'.
Members were glad to obtain a new site almost adjoining it. The new church cost
around £15,955 and was opened on October 17th 1964.
The new church contained a sanctuary, hall, kitchen, and toilet block.
Over the last few years further extensions have been added. A classroom that could
be divided into two by a screen was opened in 1975 at a cost of £4,930 and then in April
1981 a second room was added which is known as `The youth lounge' costing around
£6,000. Later, a new vestibule and vestry were built.
Now our needs have changed
again, but for those open the door marked
'Our Future hope.'
Return to top of Page
you for visiting our Website,
and we look forward to you visiting our church.
Return to top of Page
Church, Last update 2017