History of our Church
The Methodist Church on Trimpley St. originally belonged to the Primitive Methodist denomination.
Initially, Primitive Methodist Churches were located close to the location where the earliest Camp Meetings took place: Mow Cop in Staffordshire (near Kidsgrove). The movement then expanded into the Potteries and each successive Chapel sought to establish missions in the districts surrounding it. Three Primitive Methodist Circuits sought to evangelise in Shropshire: the Burland Circuit via Prees Green, the Tunstall Circuit via Wrockwardine Wood and the Darlaston Circuit via Hopton Bank (Garratt 2002). As a result of this missionary activity a Camp Meeting was held at Waterloo (located between Wem and Whitchurch) on 26 May 1822. Following this meeting the Burland Circuit received requests for the establishment of services at Ellesmere, Wem and Oswestry (Kendall 1906). Subsequent to the fulfilment of these requests, it is likely that Primitive Methodists began regular worship in Ellesmere, most probably meeting in houses until the point that a Chapel (Mount Zion) could be built in 1840.
The history of Mount Zion Primitive Methodist Church can be found in (Wilcock 1911). This states:
“Ellesmere Circuit consists of ten places, seven of which appear on the preachers’ plan for 1824, viz., Bagley, Knolton, Cockshutt, Gadlas (Dudleston), Lympit Hill (Stanwardine), and Lee. These ten places were detached from the Oswestry Circuit in 1895, forming an independent Circuit with Ellesmere at its head. This town, situated near a beautiful lake or mere, covering 120 acres, is the centre of a rural population, wholly dependent upon agriculture. The absence of any other industry explains its population of 2,000 as an invariable quantity for many decades. The major portion of the town forms part of the Bridgewater estate, and the difficulty of procuring land for a place of worship was an impediment to our church for several years. Every attempt in this direction was in vain, until Mr. Robert Roberts, the Class leader, zealous for the cause, succeeded in acquiring some property in the main street. He was offered £50 to relinquish his purchase, but replied, “No, we will have a chapel,” and on March 2nd, 1840, a suitable portion of this purchase became the property of the Primitive Methodist Connexion. On this ground, a chapel, “Mount Zion” by name, but severely plain in its architecture, was erected at a cost of £250, and was opened for Divine Service in the following July.”
The Home Office Ecclesiastical Census Returns of 1851 (Home Office 1851) indicates that Mount Zion could seat 192 people (including 96 rented seats) with room for 48 standing. The building is described as “A separate and entire building used exclusively as a place of worship”. The return was completed by the Rev. John Waplington who describes himself as the Minister of the Church.
Mount Zion Primitive Methodist Chapel continued to operate until 1908. At this point the congregation moved to the current building on Trimpley Street which was built on land purchased from Louisa Jebb who had constructed the cottage hospital on an adjacent plot (Wilcock 1911). Mount Zion Chapel has now become Scott’s Garage.
In 1932 the Primitive Methodist Church united with the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion and the United Methodist Church to form The Methodist Church of Great Britain. This meant that the Methodists on Trimpley Street now belonged to the same church as the Methodists meeting in Watergate Street and so the two congregations combined making Trimpley Street the sole Methodist Church in Ellesmere.
Garratt, D., 2002. Primitive Methodism in Shropshire 1820-1900. University of Leicester. Available at: https://lra.le.ac.uk/bitstream/2381/4728/1/275279.pdf.
Home Office, 1851. HO 129 – Home Office: Ecclesiastical Census Returns, Available at: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C1359821.
Wilcock, W., 1911. The Story of Our Churches; Ellesmere circuit. The Christian Messenger, XLVI(December), pp.373–376. Available at: http://www.myprimitivemethodists.org.uk/page/ellesmere_circuit_shropshire?path=0p2p69p.