The Seffield Independent carried an article by John Austin relating the links between John Wesley, early Methodism and Sheffield. The somewhat racy headline to the article was perhaps the work of a sub editor rather than Austin. The text is below is transcribed, but keeps the paragrah as they are in the article which was printed in somewhat narrow columns of 5 or 6 words.
Austin was certainly not the last and probably not the first to perhaps over emphasise the association of Wesley to Sheffield when he writes that “there is but little doubt that Wesley visited Booth Farm whenever in the Sheffield district but these visits are not always recorded in his journal.”
It is interesting that Austin encourages his readers to visit the farm at Goole Green which by this time had become rundown. It was demolished in the 1950s (I think)

Shoreham is in Sussex!


City Farm Resort of Early Preachers

By John Austin
In 1749 Sheffield was made the head on one of 20 circuits into which England was then divided. The Sheffield Circuit extended from Leicester to Huddersfield.
The first superintendent of this vast circuit was Edward Perronet, son of the Rev. Vincent Perronet, the famous Vicar of Shoreham. Kent, Wesley’s most confident counsellor and a great helper in the evangelical revival.
For nearly 40 Years Shoreham Vicarage was a frequent and endeared refuge to both John and Charles Wesley and the church became virtually a Methodist chapel (all the Perronet family were members of the Methodist, class meeting), and the old Vicar published several works in defence of Methodism. He gave two sons to Wesley’s conference.
Edward Perronet was the author of that wonderful hymn: “All Hail the Power of Jesu’s Name” He left Methodism and became an independent minister and was buried in the cloisters of Canterbury Cathedral.
During these great years Methodism was gradually finding Its way Into the villages and hamlets around Sheffield. It was introduced Into Norton Woodseats in 1746 probably by John Nelson, the Birstall preacher and stonemason.

A Woman Stalwart

The first Woodseats member was Elizabeth Booth, a native of Summerly, Dronfield. Who had married Jonathan Booth. a small farmer of Woodseats
Mr Booth had no great love of Methodism but was at last won for cause by the enduring devotion of his wife and preaching services Were established In their farmhouse.
She was the leader of a class at Woodseats and helprd to introduce Methodism into neighbouring villages such as Gereenhill, Holmesfield and Totley and even going as far afield as Penistone and Staincross.
Mr Booth gradually became an active worker, and was once severely wounded whilst protecting the preacher at Totley, nearly losing his life.

Haven of Rest

Booth Farm was a homely resort of all the early preachers – John and Charles Wesley. Whitfield, Grimshaw, Nelson and others. They even went out of their way to visit Woodseats when in the district. It was a haven of rest for them.
The farmouse stood at the junction of what now Holmhirst road and Fraser road, just across the road from the Woodseats Methodist Church. The approach was by way of a little lane running through a few fields opposite to where Cammell’s School now stands.
According to Mr. James Everett it was John Wesley’s custom when at Woodseats in the summertime to bathe in the River Sheaf at the bottom of Woodseats road, sometimes going further down to Little London at Heeley. He was a great believer in frequent bathing.

Sermon in Meadow

Wesley visited Sheffield for the 11th time on 4 June 1753. His journal runs: “I rode from Manchester to Chelmorton in the Peak where I preached in a little meadow and reached Sheffield in the evening.” 5 June: “I rode over to Jonathan Booth’s at Woodseats whose daughter had been ill in a very uncommon manner.” (This was little Elizabeth Booth nearly 10 years old, who had a had a series of strange fits for about six months.) 6 June: “It being sultry, I preached under a shady tree at Barley Hall and at an open place at Rotherham in the evening.”
There is but little doubt that Wesley visited Booth Farm whenever in the Sheffield district but these visits are not always recorded in his journal.

At Matlock Bath

On his thirteenth visit, 27 July 1757, he writes: “Preached in the evening at Sheffield (having preached the previous afternoon at Barley Hall), at five in the morning at Staincross; in the afternoon at Matlock Bath.” 29 July: “At five near the Bath, in Woodseats at two and in the evening at the end of the house in Sheffield, to thrice as many people as it would have contained – preached on Thursday and Friday at Rotherham in the shell of the new house which is an octagon.

Fulwood Methodism

David Taylor introduced Methodism into Fulwood and it is interesting to note that one of his earliest converts was a young man named John Bennet of Chinley who was in the habit of coming to Sheffield to run his mare at the Sheffield Races.
The races were held on Crookes Moor where now is Fulwood road. The first reference to these races was in 1711, and they were discontinued in 1781.
John Bennet was well educated but of dissolute habits. He heard Taylor preach at Fulwood, gave up his sporting habits, and became an earnest preacher and evangelist, and was one of the ten members of the first Wesleyan conference, which was held at the Foundery on Monday 25 June 1744.
His chief preaching ground or circuit included the Peak of Derbyshire and parts of Cheshire and Lancashire. It was for many years described in the Minutes of Conference of (sic) “John Bennet’s Round.”

Confidence Betrayed

He was John Wesley’s great friend and one of his favourite preachers, but betrayed the confidence placed in him by running off with Wesley’s affianced bride (Grace Murray). Bennet died in 1759 and his wife survived him over 40 years. Both are buried in Chinley Chapel yard.
It was doe to Bennet’s: preaching and influence that two old Peak families became staunch Methodist They gave to the connexions three distinguished preachers-George Marsden, president in 1821, Robert Lomas, book-steward and John Lomas, president in 1853. Bennet was severely Persecuted in the early days. He sought refuge at Fulwood. Here he was warmly received by Mr. and Mrs William Woodhouse, who told hint he could remain with them and preach in their house.
Mr. Woodhouse was a farmer. The house (Goole Green Farm) is still standing. It is situated behind the Guild Hall at Fulwood, and is well worth a visit.

Beer and Gospel

Mrs Woodhouse carried out a very happy and novel plan of gathering a congregation from the surrounding hills and countryside when the preachers made their sometimes uncertain appearance. When a preacher arrived she would suspend a large white sheet on a tree in the croft near the house. When those people saw the sheet streaming in the wood a congregation soon collected.
This farm house had two licences – one for the sale of beer and the other for the preaching of the Gospel. The latter licence was retained until a little chapel was built at Whiteley Wood and another at Hallam.
The Rev James Everett states that an interesting group composed of Mr. Thomas Bolsover ‘s daughter, of Whiteley Wood Hall. were often seen on the opposite rise from Goole Green listening with apparent pleasure to the singing.
Mr. Bolsover himself (of old Sheffield Plate fame) afterwards became hearer of the Methodists and permitted them to preach in Whiteley Wood Hall. He gave the ground and left one hundred pounds to build a small chapel at Whiteley Wood. Mr. William Woodhouse died in 1822 aged 95.
From 1746 to 1757 Methodism was decidedly a mixed community. The followers of Wesley and Whitfield atoll a few Moravians joined at a little chapel in Orchard street. that had taken the place of the one demolished In 1746. There was some friction during the next four or five years, In 1750 Leeds again became the head of the circuit and the little society of Sheffield split into factions.
[At this point the image from the newspapers becomes blurred and is unreadable with any confidence]

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