Methodism came to the Island over 200 years ago, the Historical Society is about 14 years old, and this (we think) is the first Newsletter - so we say 'hello' to old friends, and welcome to new ones.
It was on October 18th, 1970, that a group of Methodists met at Trinity Church, Douglas, encouraged by Rev. Henry Wilkinson, to discuss the formation of the Society.
The first activity as a Society was in April,1971 - a guided. tour by Mr. Leighton Stowell, which included a visit to 'Butcher's Beach' at Derbyhaven, and to the 'white Stone by the Magnetic Mile, where Wesley is said to have preached.
The Society's first Annual General meeting was held in the Victoria Street Schoolroom. on October 30th 1971, when Mrs. Norah Wilson gave an account of the Dorcas Society. Miss Ann Harrison was appointed the Methodist Archivist at that meeting.
To commemorate the visit of John Wesley to the Island in 1777, Mr. Frank Cowin, Mr Cecil McFee, and Mr. Arthur Craine arranged for a special issue of stamps from the Post Office. A plaque was unveiled in Castletown Square where Wesley preached, and the short service that included that ceremony was conducted by Rev. Ron Pearce, Chairman of the District.
The Society is now planning a complete history of Methodism in the Isle of Man - and this is where we need your help. Any reminiscences or documents that you think might be helpful, we would be grateful to know about. If you would like to Join the Society you will find an application form on the back page. Please help to circulate this Newsletter, and make our activities more widely known.
One Saturday in May a convoy of cars could be seen travelling round the Peel area - it was the Manx Methodist Historical Society on its spring outing.
We met first at Peel Methodist church, where one or two items of business were dealt with., and then proceeded first to Poortown, where the quaint ruins of an old Primitive Methodist Chapel can be seen, situated on the ancient highway which runs from Poortown to the Tynwald Mills area at St. John's. Its architectural features are maintained by the symmetrical archways of the ruins, and it could well be considered as a historic building to be 'listed'.
Why the Primitive Methodists should decide to build a chapel in what appears to be an isolated spot where there is no evidence of a village, was the question every one was asking. Mr. Fred Palmer indicated that the name is a corruption of a Dutch name - that of a Dutch man [Kneen has 'De la Poer'] who lived in the area and who had a scheme to build a village there. It was in anticipation of that that the Primitives built their chapel. the village never materialised, but there was a worshipping community; who maintained Poortown for many years. [FPC de la Poer is Irish not Dutch and is more likely to be associated with that Jacobite Irish Family than dutch settlers!]
Our next port of call was at Laurel Bank where we visited the Primitive chapel at the bottom of the road leading. to the Staarvey (new a store house), and the Wesleyan chapel at the top of the hill (now a dwelling house). The next stop was at Lambfell where the chapel has recently been renovated and converted to a dwelling house. Not far from Lambfell is Little London, and a discussion arose about the derivation of this name.
We proceeded from Lambfell, left at Cronk-e-Voddy, down across the Staarvey Road, to the coast road., calling at Knocksharry, another Primitive chapel, built in 1843, closed about 1930, and now converted. into a dwelling house.
Travelling south towards Peel, our next stop was Lhergydhoo, a Wesleyan chapel closed in 1976,and now a dwelling, house.
When we returned to Peel, Mr. Fred Palmer gave a very interesting lecture on the history of Methodism in Peel. Starting with the beginnings of Methodism at the Summerhouse, Mount Morrison, the first Wesleyan Society in 1775 with 9 members lead by John Gawne, and the first chapel built in 1777, Mr Palmer mentioned many interesting people; and incidents. The first Sunday School opened in Peel in 1813 with John Ward as its Superintendent; the son of Rev. and Mrs. Railton who are buried in the chapel grounds, assisted General Booth; young and old Crooks, two Primitive Methodist preachers known for their 'powerful lungs'; these were just one or two points in Mr Palmer's lecture.
The meeting ended with a very enjoyable tea provided by the Peel ladies.
That is just a taste of what the Manx Methodist Historical Society gets up to, there is a great deal of shared pleasure, but there is also some work to do if the History of Methodism on the island is to be preserved