History

Origins and Development of the Methodist/United Reformed Church situated in Queen Street Whittlesey.

The earliest record we have is dated June 1866 when the present site was purchased from William Southwell, a cooper. A photocopy of a deed records that in June 1866 at a meeting of the Court Leet and Court Baron of John Wallbank Childers, (who was Lord of the Manors of Whittlesey at that time) the transaction was completed. Property in the Manors was held by its owner as copyhold, which meant the Lord of the Manor retained an interest in it. The site was purchased from William Southwell by the following twelve men who became the first Trustees of the property:

                               John Poles, Alwalton, Farmer

                              James Aldgate, Peterborough, Draper

                              John Thurston, Peterborough, Ironmonger

                              Thomas Elderkin, Whittlesey, Miller

                              Edwin Burton Elderkin, Whittlesey, Farmer

                              William Hawkins, Whittlesey, Shoemaker

                              John Richard Dearing, Whittlesey, Grocer

                              Thomas Goodwin, Peterborough, Grocer

                              Richard Bright, Peterborough, Druggist

                              George Blunt, Turves, Whittlesey, Farmer

                 John Henry Beeby, Peterborough, Coal Merchant

                George Fletcher, Coates, Whittlesey, Grocer

It is interesting to speculate whether or not each of the twelve made the same contribution to the purchase price, or possibly there were already folk meeting in houses in the Town for the purpose of prayer and worship who also contributed. It was a well established practice in early Methodism for people to meet in groups, called classes, for the class leader to collect a small sum of money from each of them, on a regular basis, for the purpose of providing a building in which to meet.

The deed also records that the purpose behind the purchase of the site was to erect a Wesleyan Methodist Church. This was eventually done and a large building typical of Wesleyan Churches at the time was erected, with a raised central pulpit, a choir gallery on either side of a pipe organ behind the pulpit. This structure remained without alteration until the 1960s. In 1883 a schoolroom was added at the rear of the site which was separate from the main building. A date on one of the foundation stones confirms this.

Meanwhile two other Methodist Churches flourished in the town. The Primitive Methodist Church in Woolpack Lane and the United Methodist Church in Church Street.

When various branches of Methodism united in 1932 the Primitive Methodist Church closed and the building became the local Freemasons Hall. Members of this Church relocated at either the Queen Street or Church Street premises.

In 1936 records show that the site in Queen Street was released from copyhold by the payment of £6 to the Lord of the Manor and the property became freehold.

In 1965 it was decided to close the Church Street Church and have one modern Methodist Church in the town. This involved remodelling the old Wesleyan structure and turning it into the building which now exists. The ceiling was lowered, the central pulpit was taken out, the choir galleries were removed and the entrance porch was modernised. In October 1966 the Church was reopened and became the sole Methodist Church in the town. The former Church Street Church was purchased by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Since 1966 further changes have taken place. In 1982 the King’s Dyke Methodist Church closed and its members joined the Church at Whittlesey. From the proceeds of sale of the King’s Dyke property a large meeting room named the Wesley Room was built and paid for. This room joined the Church to the schoolroom.

A further change occurred in 1993 when the local United Reformed Church decided to close and form a local ecumenical partnership with the Methodist Church. A further two meeting rooms were added in a loft space and this part became known as the Robert Browne suite. The formation of the LEP brought a number of advantages in terms of increase in the congregation, greater financial viability and the fact that we could now draw on the resources of both parent Churches. Our hope at that time was that the LEP would move into 21st century able to provide a strong worship centre within the town and with enhanced facilities serve the community more effectively. We continue with that sense of hope at the centre of all we do.

Previous Ministers

1926 – 1929        Rev W Croxford                                              1963 – 1968         Rev Eric Cox

1929 – 1932        Rev Harry Johnson                                          1968 – 1975        Rev W Herbert Mountford

1932 – 1935        Rev W Watson                                                1975 – 1985       Rev Jack Staples                          

1935 – 1944        Rev Ernest Fisher                                            1985 – 1989        Rev John Beebe

1944 – 1948        Rev Harry Robson                                            1989 – 1996        Rev Derek Jaggard

1948 – 1951        Rev W Nicholas                                               1996 – 2000        Rev Lawrie Sharp

1951 – 1959        Rev George East                                             2000 = 2007        Rev Julian Pursehouse

1959 – 1963        Rev Peter Stanley                                            2007 – 2009        Rev Jan. Tate

                                                                                               2009  -  2013       Rev Kerry Tankard

                                                                                               2013...........       Rev Lesley Moseley