Throughout East Anglia Methodism went from strength to strength. Records were kept of christenings and sometimes burials. These are recorded by circuit rather than by an individual church. Personal experience has also shown that these registers do not run chronologically but by church for a given period, as each group of christenings/burials were made available. Each circuit had a register to which each church within that circuit added its entries.
Meetings were held by the Wesleyan Methodists in Cambridge in 1800, but the first permanent congregation was founded in the yard of the Brazen George Inn in St. Andrew's Street in 1810. In 1815 William Beacock, a Yorkshire plasterer, built a chapel in Blucher Row, Barnwell, with his own hands, assisted by the unskilled labour of other members of the society, which then numbered about 80. In 1830 the Methodists took over the chapel on the south side of Green Street which had earlier housed an independent meeting. When the numbers had increased to 300, the chapel in Hobson Street was opened in 1849. This was rebuilt in 1894 but was sold to the County Council in 1912. It was replaced by the new Wesley Church near Christ's Pieces in 1913. There are other chapels at the corner of Norwich Street and Hills Road (1871), in Romsey Town (1906), in Meadowlands (1952) and in Chesterton. The last was founded in 1858 and a new building on a new site in Chesterton High Street opened in 1904. This was sold in 1952 and a new chapel opened in Scotland Road. The Hills Road and Romsey Town chapels benefited from legacies left by Robert Sharman (will proved 1943).
The Primitive Methodists held their first meetings in Castle End in 1820, and their first chapel was built in St. Peter's Street in 1822, and rebuilt on the same site in 1863. A new chapel was built in 1914 on an extension of the original site facing Castle Street. They also had a chapel in Newmarket Road (1875). A chapel in Panton Street, held under a trust deed of 1845, was sold in 1911 to the Christian Scientists.
The Countess of Huntingdon was the founder of the Calvinistic Methodist sect, the Countess of Huntingdon Connexion. She sought originally to evangelise fellow aristocrats within the Church of England but, facing the Church's hositility to Methodists, utimately established, with Whitefield, her own "Connexion", now part of the United Reformed Church except for the 23 remaining.
About Selina Hastings
SELINA, Countess of Huntingdon, was born in 1707, married in 1728 and became a Christian at around the age of 32. She became a widow seven years later and began to devote her energies wholeheartedly to the Lord's work. Like the Wesleys and George Whitefield, she was a member of the Church of England. She used her influence to arrange the appointment of evangelical clergymen in numerous parishes and appointed George Whitefield and other clergy as her chaplains, which was a way of supporting them in their ministry.
The Countess opened private chapels attached to her residences, which she was allowed to do as a peeress of the realm. These were used for the public preaching of the gospel, but they became a source of contention from the local Anglican clergy, with the result that she reluctantly seceded from the Church of England in 1781
In 1768 she opened a College at Trevecca for young men to train for the ministry, near to the community established by Howell Harris. The students from Trevecca did much evangelising and church planting, mostly in England. However, it became increasingly difficult for them to obtain ordination in the Church of England, so the first Ordination service in the Countess' Connexion was held on 9th March 1783, during which the Connexion's Articles of Faith were first read.
The college moved to Cheshunt in 1792. From 1840 it became increasingly more involved with the Congregational Union and moved to Cambridge in 1906. Cheshunt College Foundation still gives financial support for the training of ministers in England and Sierra Leone today.
The Connexion's Articles of Faith are drawn partly from those of the Church of England, partly from the Westminster Confession and some are particular to the Connexion. They are of the Calvinistic persuasion and allow for infant baptism.
When the Countess died in 1791 there were over 60 causes associating themselves with the Countess of Huntingdon, but most of these were in local trusts. Only a few actually belonged to the Countess and were bequeathed in her will to her devisees. The first Connexional Trust Deed was made in 1807. Since that date, some chapels originally describing themselves as 'Countess of Huntingdon' have come to the Main Trust and some have joined other denominations. Numbers of Mission Stations were established by the larger chapels, which have outlived them. The present scheme was executed in 1899 and revised a few years ago.
The Countess of Huntingdon - Ely - www.countessely.org.uk
Connexional youth work - www.youthconference.co.uk
The Main Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion site - www.cofhconnexion.org.uk
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Last Updated on: 5 January
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