In the year 1739, the Hastings sisters of Ashby were in London for the season, along with many other members of the gentry of the land.
They came to hear of a preacher called John Wesley and curiosity took them to Fetters Lane where a group of Methodists were meeting. They were immensely impressed, especially Lady Margaret who became a convinced Methodist. She lost no time in breaking the news to her sister-in-law Lady Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, who resided at Donington Hall. She too became an ardent Methodist and in the following years invited John Wesley and other Methodist preachers to Donington to address her friends.
Invitation to John Wesley
Lady Selina had founded a school in Penn Lane, Melbourne and had property and influence there. So, in June 1741 she persuaded Wesley to preach to the townsfolk. He was not allowed into the pulpit of the Parish Church but found a good vantage point under a tree from whence to deliver his message.
Wesley’s fervour and the urgency of his personal appeal fired the imagination of some of his audience. That was the beginning of Methodism in Melbourne – and perhaps in Ticknall too. There would surely have been a Ticknall villager in Melbourne that day, by accident or design. If not, the news would have been all around the village by nightfall.
Society and Chapel
From 1741, when Wesley first preached in Melbourne, Methodism slowly established itself in Ticknall. Its group of devoted supporters looked for help to Melbourne, Ashby and Donington. Then a new Methodist arrived.
In 1760 Harry, son of Sir Henry Harpur, came of age and inherited Calke Hall and the estate. In 1762 he married Lady Frances Greville, daughter of the Earl of Warwick. She was the new Methodist.
Methodists ‘coming out’.
Ticknall Methodists must have rejoiced indeed. Perhaps in her honour, or with her encouragement, they declared themselves openly and founded the Ticknall Methodist Society.