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Methodism in Elstow

In 1932 the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists, the two denominations active in Bedfordshire, came together with the United Methodists to form the Methodist Church of Great Britain. Elstow has no references to Methodism except in the 19th century.

Edwin Welch researched the history of registrations in Bedfordshire for Bedfordshire Historical Records Society Volume 75 Bedfordshire Chapels and Meeting Houses [published in 1996] and found that on12th November 1814 the dwelling house in the occupation of John Goodman was registered with the Archdeaconry of Bedford by John Dean of Bedford, minister [ABN1/1 and ABN2/164]. Dean registered a number of meetings around this time and in some of them used a form a form printed by T. Cordeux of 14 City Road, London which was commonly used by Wesleyan Methodists.

Oddly we have no mention of Elstow in Wesleyan circuit records. Conversely we have no registration of a Primitive Methodist meeting in Elstow but it is mentioned in the Bedford Primitive Circuit baptism register [MB1854]. Mary Ann, daughter of George Frankling, labourer and Matilda, his wife was baptised on 28th May 1843.

On Sunday 30th March 1851 a census of all churches, chapels and preaching-houses of every denomination was undertaken in England and Wales. The local results were published by Bedfordshire Historical Records Society in 1975 as Volume 54, edited by D. W. Bushby. There is no return for any Methodist meeting in Elstow.

Clearly Methodist struggled to get a toehold in the village. This is hardly surprising given that the church seems to have been well supported and Elstow already had a flourishing nonconformist denomination, founded by its most famous son – the Bunyan Meeting.