Oaken Gates - Primitive Methodists (1822)

From some poetical effusions by Mr W. Sanders, we learn that he preached with effect at Lilleshall, Donnington, and Coalpit Bank, in the autumn of 1821; and he and his fellow labourers had abundant success at Wrockwardine Wood, Oaken Gates, and other places in the mining district of Shropshire. The following letter from Mr James Bonser to Tunstall Circuit authorities, will show the prosperity of the work of God in this neighbourhood: —

Oaken Gates, May 4th, 1822.

“Dear Brethren,— This is to inform you that we have agreed to have a camp-meeting here on Sunday, the 19th instant. If you can make it convenient to send us a little help, we shall be thankful. If it be a fine day, I expect there will be ten thousand people present. We have a glorious work going on here. I preached last Sunday at Oaken Gates to near two thousand people. On the following morning, several persons found peace at a prayer-meeting; and at night, several more. I have preached at several fresh places, and formed five fresh classes at new places. I never before saw the fields so ripe for the harvest I have opened as many places as we can well supply and people want us at other places. We are actively employed in the work almost from nine o'clock in the morning till ten at night I preached on Wednesday night, for the first time, at the Old Park, when six persons found peace; and two more found peace at a prayer-meeting next morning.”

The spot usually occupied by the missionaries for a preaching place at Oaken Gates, was an open space near the centre of the village, called ''the bull-ring," where thousands of guilty and depraved beings frequently, rioted in the brutal sport of bull-baiting. In this well-known place, where vice of every kind had often been committed without a blush the zealous missionaries unfurled the blood-stained banner of the cross and pointed sinners to the Lamb of God. Their plain and powerful Addresses were accompanied with the mighty energy of the Holy Spirit; many hardened sinners were awakened to a sense of their lost condition, and some who had been ring-leaders in wickedness became champions in the cause of Christ. A society was soon formed, and the work of God continued to prosper there and in the neighbourhood. A chapel was wanted, and a building site religious at Oaken Gates; but through the influence of the parish minister, the attempt to secure one was unsuccessful. At Wrockwardine Wood, however, about a mile distant, land was given by a Mr Amphlett, and a spacious chapel was soon erected. A large congregation attended, and a flourishing society was established, which exerted a salutary influence on the surrounding neighbourhood. This place afterwards became the head of a respectable circuit and continues such to the present. At Oaken Gates, too, a most eligible building site was ultimately obtained, close by the "bull-ring,'' on which a commodious chapel was erected, for which a railway company paid a considerable sum of money, and thereby enabled the trustees to erect a much larger one in a most prominent position, and to place it in easy circumstances. From, ‘The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion from its origin, by John Petty, 1860, p111-2/113


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