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A brief history of Methodism in Quinton

by Dr Michael Hall

Photograph of the 1888 College Road church building
The College Road Church built in 1888 and which would subsequently make way for the M5 motorway.

Quinton’s first Methodist building was a garden grotto, known as the Hermit House, which local landowner Ambrose Foley built in his farm garden on the land where the Asda supermarket now stands. John Wesley preached here in March 1781 and again on his subsequent visits. The grotto was replaced in 1785-1786 by the first preaching house, standing on Foley’s estate near the turnpike road. Also in 1786 Ambrose Foley began a Sunday School at his Meeting House at The Quinton.

Forty years after Wesley came to Quinton, Primitive Methodism (an offshoot of Wesleyan Methodism) arrived, when Mr Deeley of Tinker’s Farm invited a group of Quinton “ranters” to worship in his farmhouse. Much violent village opposition ensued. Preachers were persecuted; pelted with rotten eggs; windows in their worship place were broken - at one time there was scarcely a whole pane left!

1827 also saw development in Quinton’s Primitive Methodist cause when Samuel Chatwin of Monckton Farm had a barn on his land converted to a chapel. Some time later James Hall, one of the members of the Barn Chapel, bought a cottage not a stone’s throw from Foley’s Wesleyan Preaching House and sold to the Primitive Society as much of the garden as they needed. Within two months the foundation stone was laid and the building rose amidst much opposition and conflict. Bethesda Chapel was opened on November 8th 1840 with great celebrations.

1873 saw Quinton Wesleyans join Birmingham’s Islington Circuit and a decision to build a new chapel, on the understanding that the cost did not exceed £600, of which £300 was to be raised locally. A site was purchased on the turnpike road for £160. Four years later the Toll House and premises were also purchased at the further cost of £100. Hagley Road Chapel was opened on April 8th 1878. Costs had soared to £957; only £244 had been raised and pew rents varied between 1s (5p) per sitting and 6d (2.5p) per quarter. These premises were extended in 1891 by the building of a school room at an additional cost of £120.

Next: Establishment on College Road and a merger