An Outline History of Stricklandgate Methodist Church



The Methodist Church began in the eighteenth century, and its origins are much associated with Revd John Wesley, a Church of England Minister who developed a nationwide travelling ministry, and his brother Charles, a prolific hymnwriter.

The arrival of Methodism in Kendal and the origins of Stricklandgate Church are recorded on the plaque on the front of the church.

The historical connection with John Wesley is recalled by the inscription high up on the front of the church, although since 1932 the denomination has been known as "The Methodist Church".


John Wesley first preached in Kendal in 1753. Several more visits by Wesley followed, but the Kendal Methodist Society was not established until Wesleyan local preacher, Stephen Brunskill from Orton, began preaching on Sundays in 1787 in the market place from the steps of the Old Playhouse (later the Working Men's Institute).

Before long the Methodists rented the Old Playhouse as a meeting room and then bought it for £89 in 1795. Seven years later, needing larger premises, they moved to The Fold in Stricklandgate. This had been an Independent Meeting House.

In 1808 the Wesleyan Methodists moved to their first, purpose-built chapel, at the corner of Burneside Road and Stricklandgate. It opened on October 30th and could seat 400 people.

The year 1882 saw drastic changes, as the 1808 chapel was demolished and a still larger and more prestigious chapel was erected on the same site. While this work was proceeding, the Wesleyans met for Sunday Services in St George's Hall, Stramongate. (Blackhall Croft flats are now on this site.) The new chapel seated more than 800 people and extra rooms were built at the rear. The cost of the whole scheme rose to £4,000. The date stone, high up on the front of the building, reads "Wesleyan Chapel A.D. 1882", but it was on Thursday March 29th 1883 that the opening ceremony took place.

The inside of the 1882 Chapel 

Work with children figured strongly among Stricklandgate Wesleyans. In 1816 they opened a Sunday School which soon numbered 200 children. A Day school was also developed on the premises, with 180 pupils recorded by 1868. Kendal Green British School was opened in 1873 as a result of the Education Act of 1870 which legislated for the creation of Board Schools and State grants. Compulsory education from 1880 brought still more children into the schools system. The Wesleyans supported the new Day School, closed their own and also moved their Sunday School to the Kendal Green building. The connection between Stricklandgate and Kendal Green School continued. In December 1910 much of the Day School was destroyed by fire, after which some of the pupils were accommodated on the Chapel premises until rebuilding and reopening took place in 1912. At this time the Headmaster of Kendal Green School, William Gardiner, was also the General Superintendent of Stricklandgate Sunday School.

 The inside of the 1990 Chapel

During the 1980's discussions about the renovation of the church premises took place. As a result, the church premises were used more than before redevelopment. The new kitchen facilitated catering, including for the Tuesday Lunch Club (from October 1992) and for coach parties. The chairs in the church could be moved into different arrangements for special events.

Twenty years later the church seemed in need of a further "face-lift". Therefore the front has now been altered with the building of a dais. A new digital organ has replaced the former separated pipes and consol, the old organ pipes having departed to Kenya to be used in Nairobi Cathedral. The gap left by the pipes will shortly be dealt with, so that the finished result complements the newly decorated and carpeted church.

The inside of the 2010 Chapel

During the past year (2009-2010) a Church Review has taken place, looking at our situation and seeking new developments in the spiritual life of the church, such as communion and coffee on Tuesday mornings, prayer files and the extension of house groups which have existed since the late twentieth century. Stricklandgate Methodist Church which now has 213 members (September 2010) looks to the future in faith.


 Superintendent Ministers of the Kendal Methodist Circuit since Methodist Union. 

1933               Robert Armstrong
1940               Bertram Dewhirst

1945               John T. Wilkinson
1946              Arthur S. Gregory

1950               William E. Thorpe

1954               C.H. Cartwright

1958               J.R. Ridley

1960               W.G. Cartledge

Harry Facer
1971               Samuel Arthurs
1974               L.D. Gregory

1979               M.D. Gatehouse

1984               Malcolm Daley

1988               Ian Mason

1998               Alan G. Raine
2004               Michael E. Harrison

2012               Jonathan H Pye
2015               John L Simms                                       2017               David Stretton      

 This History has been written by Marie Holland. 

Return to top of Page