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Overview of Primitive Methodism in Luton

Primitive Methodism first seems to have penetrated Luton around 1839 when missionaries from Aylesbury [Buckinghamshire] visited the town. Luton Primitive Methodist Circuit was founded in 1843, 35 years after the Luton Wesleyan Circuit. The original meetings, formerly in the Aylesbury Circuit, were:

  • Billington;
  • Dunstable;
  • Eggington;
  • Harpenden, Southdown Road [Hertfordshire];
  • Houghton Regis;
  • Luton, High Town;
  • Slapton [Buckinghamshire];
  • Stanbridge;
  • Streatley;
  • Toddington;
  • Totternhoe;
  • Woodside.

It is important to remember that not all these were chapels. Some meetings would have met in people’s homes or in barns. In the next 34 years the following meetings joined the circuit:

  • 1860: Bendish [Hertfordshire]; Breachwood Green [Hertfordshire]; Leagrave, Marsh Road; Sharpenhoe and Whitwell [Hertfordshire];
  • 1864: Luton, Park Town;
  • 1868: Markyate [Hertfordshire] and Slip End;
  • 1869: Redbourn [Hertfordshire] and in Saint Albans Circuit until 1887;
  • 1871: Barton-le-Clay;
  • 1878: Shillington, Bury End.

Around 1858 the following chapels disappear from circuit records and probably joined Leighton Buzzard Primitive Methodist Circuit: Billington and Eggington.

Dunstable Primitive Methodist Circuit was formed in 1866 with the following former Luton Circuit meetings: Dunstable; Houghton Regis; Stanbridge and Toddington.

In 1879 the Luton Circuit was divided into two circuits called, imaginatively, Luton I and Luton II. Luton I circuit comprised:

  • Barton-le-Clay;
  • Leagrave, Marsh Road;
  • Luton, High Town;
  • Sharpenhoe.

Luton II circuit comprised:

  • Bendish;
  • Harpenden, Southdown Road;
  • Luton, Park Town;
  • Markyate;
  • Redbourn (added 1887);
  • Slip End;
  • Trowley Bottom.

The following chapels were created between 1879 and 1903:

  • Luton, Church Street in 1880 (Luton II);
  • Luton, Cardigan Street in 1883 (Luton I);
  • Luton, Hibbert Street in 1886 (Luton II);
  • Luton, Mount Tabor in 1897 (Luton II).

In 1903 a third Luton circuit, inevitably named Luton III was created by taking the following meetings from the other two circuits:

  • Luton, Mount Tabor;
  • Markyate;
  • Slip End.

The following chapels were created between 1903 and 1933:

  • Luton, Dunstable Road in 1905 (Luton III);
  • Saint Albans, Boundary Road [Hertfordshire] in 1909 (Luton II).

The following chapels closed in the period 1808 to 1933: Harpenden, Southdown disappears from the record by 1858 but re-appears about 1865, a new chapel was built in 1868; Slapton, Streatley and Totternhoe also disappear from the record about 1858; Breachwood Green and Whitwell both disappeared from the record by 1879; Luton, Hibbert Street closed in 1897, the building being used as the Sunday School for Mount Tabor; Markyate closed in 1907.

The Wesleyan, Primitive and United Methodists came together in 1932 to form the Methodist Church of Great Britain. The following year all the Wesleyan and Primitive Luton Circuits were combined into two circuits, Luton and High Town.