History of Methodism in Hampton
1861 - The first chapel, Church Street
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The first Methodist Chapel was opened at what is now 17, Church Street in Hampton in 1861, as part of the Richmond Circuit of churches. In 1887 Hampton, along with East Molesey, Teddington, Sunbury and Hanworth churches, left this Circuit and became the new Hampton Court Circuit. This was renamed the Teddington Circuit in 1892, and remains so today, with the same five churches.
The centenary leaflet from 1961 says:
The Christian Gospel, it seems, has always had some connection with the pursuit of fishing. The first disciples were fishermen, and Jesus called them to be 'fishers of men'. The fish was the symbol of early Christianity, and it is not entirely unrelated to the beginnings of Methodism in Hampton. Just over a century ago, in the early eighteen-fifties, in fact, Hampton was noted for its Autumn fishing. A frequent visitor-cum-angler to the village at that time was a Mr George Urling, a Methodist Circuit Steward, a Local Preacher, and a Class-Leader at The Great Queen Street Chapel in London. Mr Urling was the grandson of George Clark, an intimate friend of John Wesley, he was also a Trustee of Wesley's Chapel; even more, Mr Urling was a man with a concern, for history tells us that 'he yearned over the spiritual destitution in his chosen holiday resort'. In 18S9 he consulted the Governor of Richmond Theological College, the Rev Alfred Barrett, subsequently, the students began to hold services at a place where three roads met under the spreading branches of a great tree (this was probably the Triangle in The High Street). George Scott and Josiah Bonham were among these early itinerant preachers of the Gospel in Hampton. Later, a room was secured, in which, services were held in the winter months. This was soon found to be too small, and eventually, amidst great rejoicing, the original chapel, situated in Church Street, was opened by the renowned Dr Morley Punshon (this was in 1861, but the month is not noted).
Mr Urling now found it necessary to settle in Hampton. He conducted a regular Class-Meeting !n his home, and ere long, introduced the liturgy into the new chapel-apparently, he belonged to the old school of Wesleyan Methodism, for he religiously attended the parish church on the great Feast Days of the Christian Year. Some of the 'giants of Methodism preached in the little chapel in those red-letter days; they included Dr Osborn, Dr Moulton, the Rev Alfred Barrett and the Rev Marshall Hartley. The Earl and Countess of Errol, with their children, regularly attended the Sunday Services. The Countess, it seems, taught in the Sunday School, and her daughter, the Lady Cecilia Hay conducted an infant class. We are told that conversions were a frequent occurrence, and the labours of the Richmond Students at that time receive the highest praise. Mr Urling died suddenly in 1870, and the records say that he had lived a happy, long and useful life. Certainly, he lived up to ideals of Wesley's prayer, "O Lord, let me not live ta be useless." The old chapel at Hampton was originally in the Richmond Circuit. In 1887 Molesey, Teddington, Hampton, Sunbury and Hanworth, were taken out of Richmond to form the new Hampton Court Circuit; it eventually became the Teddington Circuit in 1892, the minister at that time was the Rev James Walter. After sixty-four years the small chapel had evidently served its purpose. Methodism has always been noted for its flexibility, and the Hampton Methodists were not slow To realise the need for a new church to cater for the spiritual wants of a fast expanding population. After due consideration the Trustees purchased a new site, in Percy Road.
Information taken from the circuit archives, from the collection of the late Bob Barwell, and thanks to John Sheaf for the old photo of the chapel.