John Wesley’s visit to Winchelsea

John Wesley visited Winchelsea three times

John Wesley’s visits to Winchelsea

The first time John Wesley visited was on October 30th 1771. We have evidence that he preached under the old ash tree on that occasion. Apparently he had many supporters in Winchelsea. No doubt also many of the French protestant immigrants, who were numerous in Winchelsea after the weaving industry was established there in 1761, would find Wesley’s teaching akin to that of their own church.

The second visit was on January 29th 1789, when he preached in the new chapel. This is now used as a Sunday School. He was then entertained at the house of Mrs Kennett.

The last time was on October 7th 1790, when he preached his last open air sermon again, according to tradition, under the ash tree which stood outside the west wall of St. Thomas’ churchyard.  He stood on a large oak table which, together with the chair he sat on, belonged to Mr Jones. His daughter, Asenath Jones, presented the table to the Mission House, and bequeathed the chair to the stewards of the Rye Circuit. It is now preserved in the minister’s house.

Mr. Wesley, when in Winchelsea, used to visit the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jones. He tells a wonderful story of “Faith Healing” in his Journal, in connection with the sudden cure of a long-standing and painful affliction of Mrs. Jones. After hearing the account of it from her lips, Wesley remarks: “I think our Lord never wrought a plainer miracle, even in the days of His flesh.” Miss Asenath Jones died in 1867, at the age of 84. She delighted in sharing various reminiscences connected with Wesley’s visits to her home.

Winchelsea’s ‘Industrial Revolution’

In 1760 Mr Nesbit MP built a manufactory for making linens and brought craftsmen across from Cambrai

Winchelsea’s ‘Industrial Revolution’

In 1760 Mr Nesbit MP built a manufactory for making linens and brought craftsmen across from Cambrai. The Huguenot weavers were brought to Winchelsea illegally to live and work in the factory.

The route of the Huguenot migrants in 1760s

In 1763 the manufactory was incorporated as the ‘English Linen Company’ to legally stamp and sell their product. However cambric manufacture, although initially successful, lasted just 30 years.