A Brief History of Buxton Methodist Church

The Church on the Market Place
Image Source: methodist.org.uk

Methodism in the High Peak

We know that John Wesley first preached in Fairfield and Buxton in 1783, which was towards the end of his life. Travelling by horse into the hills of the Peak District must have been challenging! At that time, Buxton was a small village in the hills, before the Duke of Devonshire developed the town as an inland spa.

Learn more about the history of Methodism on the Methodist Church website here.

1797 – First Chapel

The first small chapel was built about 1797 in Higher Buxton, near what is now the corner of Dale Road and High Street. No pictures have been found, and descriptions are very slight. At that time Buxton was part of the Macclesfield Circuit.

Soon after its erection in 1797, it was found to be unsound in structure and inconvenient in position. It was, however, 52 years before a better chapel was built on the present site.

19th Century

1812 – Buxton Circuit

A separate Buxton Circuit was formed in 1813, with two ministers directed to live here.

1849 – Wesleyan Church

The present church was built on the site of the cock-pit in the Market Place! The land was obtained from the Duke of Devonshire, either as a gift or for a nominal sum.

The architect of the new church was James Wilson of Bath, and it was built by J. Ward of Congleton for £1000.

Some of the materials of the old chapel were carted up the hill and re-used, as was some of the timber from the grandstand of the Fairfield Racecourse – but with no further betting allowed in this new Methodist Church!

The new chapel was opened on 21 September 1849.


1865 – The Manse

In 1865, Wesley Villa was first rented as a manse and was then purchased in 1868, together with the land between the chapel and the manse. Wesley Villa is still the Superintendent Minister’s house for the circuit.


1875 – Extensions

As Buxton developed as a spa, the chapel was too small for the numbers attending. In 1875 Robert Rippon Duke (the architect of the Devonshire Royal Hospital Dome and the Pavilion Gardens Octagon) prepared a cruciform plan for extending the church. This used the existing nave but nearly doubled its length. New schoolrooms were built between the church and Wesley Villa.


1895 – New Organ

Our present organ was built in 1895 by Alexander Young of Manchester, replacing an earlier one installed in 1865. It is located directly over the old market cock-pit. You can read more about our organ here.

20th Century

1930s – Extensions

Significant extensions were made to the school rooms in 1937-8. Unfortunately, these extensions had some flat roofs, which have continued to give problems into the 21st century!


1949 – Centenary

The centenary of Buxton Wesley Chapel was celebrated in 1949 in many ways, including the publication of a booklet called ‘The Story of a Hundred Years 1849-1949’.

1966 – Merger

For many years, there had been two Methodist churches close to each other in this part of Buxton: Wesley (Market Place) and Primitive (London Road). With declining congregations, the churches amalgamated in 1966. Although the initial thoughts were to keep London Road as it was in better repair, Wesley was eventually chosen as a more central site and London Road was sold. This is now Buxton Community Church (pictured).

Significant changes were made to ‘modernise’ what was now called Buxton Methodist Church, including putting a lower false ceiling into the church, and getting rid of removing the old church pews. The church was reopened in 1971.

1980s – New Roof

By the early 1980s, major repairs were needed to the church. After a great deal of discussion, the Donald Buttress Fuller Partnership (architects from Manchester) were appointed with a brief for a renovated church. On Easter Day 1988, we celebrated the old church and we then worshipped in the main schoolroom for nearly a year.

The work involved constructing a concrete and steel ring beam around the whole of the church, taking off the roof and erecting a new steel-framed roof with about 12,500 new Welsh slates, restoring stonework, electrics, heating etc.

A Thanksgiving Service was held on 11 March 1989.

Rev Ronald W C Hoar (M&S District Chair & President 1991-92) (L) & Rev Robert Davies (R). Image: John Morten

1988 – New Minister

Rev Bob Davies became our Minister in 1988, taking over from Rev Peter Brant, who joined us in 1981.

1991 – Presidential Visit

Rev Ronald WC Hoar, Chair of the Manchester & Stockport District of the Methodist Church and President of the Methodist Church 1991/1992 visited our church on 14th July 1991. He is pictured here (left) with Rev Bob Davies (right).

1990s – New Rooms

The new roof had been Phase 1 of our ‘Vision 2000’. Now it was time for phases 2 and 3. Everyone was delighted by the renovated church, but all the schoolrooms were dilapidated. This time a local architect, Paul Dinsdale, was appointed with a brief to create a suite of community rooms of high quality. That scheme was carried out and completed in 1994.

Phase 1 cost £300,000, and phases 2 and 3 each cost about £200,000 making a total of about £700,000 – a tremendous fundraising achievement! – and this was all paid for!

The building’s premises are old and are exposed to the tough Buxton weather at about 1000 feet in altitude. We continue to maintain these fine buildings which are used by many outside organisations and by 250-300 people every week.

21st Century

2005 – New Minister

Rev Colin Smith became our Minister in September 2005, taking over from Rev Bob Davies who had served for 17 years.

2012 – New Minister

In September 2012, Rev Andrew Parker joined us as our new Minister, coming over from the Sheffield East Circuit, following the retirement of Rev Colin Smith.

2010s – Solar & Access

In 2016, we installed photovoltaic panels on the south-facing roof of the church hall and improved accessibility in the church hall with new entrance ramps in 2017-2018 and new accessible toilets in 2019 – the ramps won us a Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust Architectural Award!

In 2019, we also had protective panes put on our stained glass windows to prevent damage and breakages. These were done by The Stained Leaded Glass Company Ltd with our apologies to Classic Glass High Peak Ltd, in Dove Holes, who have done a great job of repairs over the years but fingers crossed we won’t need them again.

2019 – Circuit Merger

In September 2019, the Buxton Methodist Circuit joined with the High Peak Methodist Circuit and Whaley Bridge Uniting Partnership to form a new circuit – the ‘High Peak Partnership’. The Superintendent Minister in Buxton has pastoral oversight of churches in the old Buxton Circuit plus Dove Holes with a second Superintendent Minister overseeing the other churches.

2021 – Presidential Visit (Vice)

In 2021, we painted the inside of the church hall and laid a new carpet and in October, the Vice President of the Methodist Church Conference for 2021-2022, Barbara Easton, visited us to lead our morning service. #ChooseLove

2022 – Raise the Roof

In 2022, we began our ‘Raise the Roof’ project for extensive repairs to the roofs over our community rooms. Following our Quinquennial Inspection in 2018, which identified minor areas of damp in various parts of the building, we carried out minor repairs. However, we were completely unprepared for the increasing incidences of water ingress that have occurred, in virtually every part of the building, since then! During the storms in February 2022, we found streams running down the wall of the upper room and through into the main hall, standing water outside the toilets on the lower corridor floor and the need for more buckets in the kitchen and coffee foyer than is safe for our building users. Works were carried out during May-July 2023. For more information, see the project page here.