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New book on Yarmouth Methodism

PUBLISHED: 09:39 11 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:15 30 June 2010

Ben Milner with his book The History of Methodism in East Norfolk

Ben Milner with his book The History of Methodism in East Norfolk

THE great Christian theologian John Wesley once described Great Yarmouth residents as “ignorant” following a less-than-friendly welcome in the town, a new book reveals.

THE great Christian theologian John Wesley once described Great Yarmouth residents as “ignorant” following a less-than-friendly welcome in the town, a new book reveals.

Gorleston author Ben Milner has penned the book “The History of Methodism in East Norfolk” chronicling the turbulent arrival of the religion in the town during the 18th century and one section concerns the visit by Methodism's founding father Wesley in 1761 to try and establish the religion in the town.

After being heckled by the congregation, Wesley is reported to have described Yarmouth as a “large and populous town as troubled by ignorance as any seaport in England.”

His preaching mission to the town followed unsuccessful attempts by previous Methodists to spread the word, including Norwich minister Rev Thomas Olivers, who was chased by an angry egg-throwing mob and forced to hide in The Rows before escaping back to Norwich on horseback.

However, despite the difficult start the religion did become established in the borough and there are now five churches in the town, including Christchurch in King Street. In the whole of east Norfolk there are 100 churches and chapels.

UEA lecturer Mr Milner, of The Fairway, wrote the book after doing a project on Methodism while taking evening classes at East Norfolk Sixth Form College and realised he had enjoyed the project so much he wanted to investigate the subject himself.

The 41-year-old, who is himself a Methodist along with other members of his family, said: “The book has 140 photos in it. It is not just 230 pages of writing. There are a lot of photos in there of old Methodist churches. People can buy it and look through the photos if they want. They don't have to read the text.”

The book took two years for Mr Milner, who attends Lowestoft Road Methodist Church in Gorleston, to write and all profits are going to the charity Action for Children, which speaks out for vulnerable children.

Methodists typically reject luxuries and seek to preach the Christian message to the poor and vulnerable. During the early days of Methodism, the religion was characterised by unconventional methods of preaching, including open air services.

The book, which costs £10, can be bought from WH Smith in Yarmouth, Jarrolds in Norwich and from Methodist churches in East Norfolk.

It can also be ordered from the author directly on 01493 668646 or aldercarr@googlemail.com.


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