New book corrects airbrushing of Norfolk’s Methodist heritage

Norfolk's towns and villages are sprinkled with Methodist churches and chapels of all shapes and sizes - a reflection of the impact the organisation led by John Wesley had on the county.

But if you read the first Methodist Heritage Handbook, published in 2010, you could be forgiven for thinking that the denomination never reached these parts. For not one Norfolk building is included.

Now, after some criticism, the 2012 handbook has been published - with three Norfolk Methodist churches included.

The book has features on the churches at Overstrand, Walsingham and Mile Cross in north Norwich. Also included is Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, because of its display relating to the agricultural unions, which had strong representation by Primitive Methodists.

Maurice Fellows is secretary of Overstrand Methodist Church, which was designed by the eminent Victorian architect Sir Edwin Lutyens and opened in 1898.

He said: 'It did seem odd that the 2010 handbook didn't have a single Norfolk church in it. It was surprising that it didn't include the only Methodist church in the country designed by Edwin Lutyens.

'We are very pleased that the new handbook includes our church. We are very proud of it, and think the handbook will bring lots of visitors here.'

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Jo Hibbard, Methodist heritage officer, said: 'When we published the first handbook in 2010, one of the criticisms was that there were regions missing - including East Anglia and Cumbria.

'I did some research, and they had a very strong Methodist history - but it was less associated with iconic buildings that would feature in the guide.'

She added: 'It was a story that was much more difficult to bring to the public's attention in a directory. What we've done is put in a little overview of the history of Methodism in Norfolk and three sites that give a sense of some interesting places.'

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