26th August 1884
Wesleyans celebrated 100 years on Guernsey

Methodism arrived in the Channel Islands in the late 1700s. Writing in A History of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, James Marr notes that the movement “first reached Guernsey in 1785 when islanders who had been involved in the Newfoundland cod fisheries returned home, bringing their newly acquired faith with them”.

They weren’t the first to practice the religion, though. Methodist soldiers had already been garrisoned on neighbouring Jersey for two years by that point. John Wesley sent Robert Carr Brackenbury to serve as their minister. Jersey convert Jean de Quetteville preached Methodism in Guernsey the following year and, by 1787, it had arrived on Alderney.

So it was that, on 26 August 1884 – around 100 years after the Methodist faith had found such fertile ground – the Wesleyan Church in Guernsey celebrated the centenary of the religion’s foundation there.

The Star described it as “a monster gathering of the Sunday School teachers and scholars of the various chapels in the islands”.

Along with their pupils, and with each school holding a banner identifying itself, they marched to Cambridge Park along roads lined by spectators. Once they arrived, they assembled on a stage that had been erected on the northern side of the park and sang to the accompaniment of a brass band for the assembled crowds.

Methodism in Guernsey

Guernsey’s first Methodist chapel opened in 1789 and, according to the Methodist Heritage website, was followed by several others. By the 20th century there were 32 Methodist chapels on the island and 7% of the population put Methodist as their religion on the 1911 census.

Wesley himself visited both Alderney and Guernsey in August 1787. He preached in St Peter Port at what is now the Guille-Alles Library and met local dignitaries.

Category: Guernsey History | Other events tagged

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