It is known that Methodism in Timsbury stretches back to John Wesley himself, who we know rode from Bristol on a pony to preach at Timsbury Parish Church. Being refused admission he promptly preached on the grass verge outside. On another occasion he visited Grove Colliery at Timsbury Bottom to preach to miners as they finished their shift.
The first Methodists in Timsbury were Isaac and Betty Evans, the children of John and Molly Evans. Molly’s maiden name was Young. Betty Evans married John Box on Christmas day in 1786 and it is fairly certain that the first Methodist class meetings were held in their home. In 1786 the Society consisted of four members and was part of the Bristol Circuit. Unfortunately this happy state of affairs was brief for after only 17 months of married life, John Box met with a tragic death in a coal mine. The timbers in the pit caught fire and he suffocated.
In 1791 there no Methodist Church in Timsbury , but by 1799 the membership had grown to 39 and the Society was transferred to the Shepton Mallet circuit.
The existence of the Church building in 1805 is due to the efforts of John Evans and John Barnes who pooled their resources to purchase land, and travelled the local area begging materials, and arranging free transportation of stone and timber.
The earliest established church in the village (formerly known as Wesleyan Chapel) has always been strong musically and at one time, Oliver Janes, the founder conductor of the Timsbury Male Voice Choir was its Choirmaster. Among quite large membership were several long established families who for generations had been connected with worship and work; the Greenlands, Heals, Shearns, Naish, Moon and Thatcher. The Sunday School superintendent was the village postman Mr William (Bill) Beecham from another of the old families. The organist was Mr Ruddick, manager of the Co-operative Shop. After the war there were about 80 on the Sunday School register, 40 under 11 and 40 over 11 years of age. This seems to show that the trend away from Sunday School was beginning as there should have been more under 11’s than over 11’s.
Local Lay preachers were augmented by those from further afield. Before the motor car became so general the preachers from Bristol came to Clutton Station by train and were brought to Timsbury by the late Mr ‘Sonny’ Coombs in his hire car. When the buses came the evening service finished in time for the preacher to catch his bus back – shorter sermons resulted.
Reproduced from ‘The Timsbury Book’ by kind permission of Timsbury Parish Council.