John Wesley, Methodist founder, came from a family grounded in Dorset. Winterborne Whitechurch was the birthplace of John Wesley’s father, Samuel Wesley, in November 1662. Samuel’s father was Vicar of the village – but it is not straightforward. Grandfather John was imprisoned for not using the Book of Common Prayer and ejected from his position as vicar in 1662, delivering his farewell sermon to a weeping audience on August 17th of that year. Blandford Museum has a photocopy of a warrant issued in July 1661 to release him from prison: further down this page you will find a transcript made by Mark Churchill.
There is a return in the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious Worship for Winterborne Whitechurch Wesleyan chapel as follows
- Date erected, consecrated or licensed: 1847.
- Religious denomination: Wesleyan Methodist.
- Informant: John Stevens, Minister.
- Estimated attendance on Sunday 30 March 1851: morning 76, afternoon 46, evening 108.
Winterborne Whitechurch Wesleyan Methodist chapel appears on the 1900 Ordnance Survey map. Was this the 1847 chapel or a later one? The map shows the chapel located on the south side of Blandford Hill. There is a modern house on the site in 2022.
As an attachment to this page you will find unusual jewel – an individual account of the story behind the Wesleyan chapel building and the role of Nanny Cuff. It was given by Barry Cuff who provided the photographs on this page and the original is now in the Blandford Museum Archives. The Cuff family were stalwarts of the chapel. The account was written by Olive Philpott
National Archives tell us that the Winterborne Whitechurch Wesleyan Methodist chapel building was closed in 1971 because of its poor condition. It was sold in 1972 and demolished in 1973 although Methodist services were continued in the Parish Church. In 1990 the society was transferred to the Wimborne Minster Circuit.