Site of the Millstone Lane Chapel

Site of the Millstone Lane Chapel

In 1753 William Lewis bought the medieval barn on Millstone Lane and gave it to the Methodist Society. It thus became the first Methodist chapel in Leicester. It was called the Tabernacle. The chapel stood on an open space between the two lamp posts. The origins of the medieval barn are still a matter of investigation. It almost certainly belonged to a church, and it is inviting to think that if that church was the Grey Friars, then the Methodists, albeit remotely, have an association with Richard III. But it might have belonged to another of Leicester's medieval churches. The Methodists used it until 1787, when it was demolished and replaced by a purpose-built brick chapel on the same site.

What is not in doubt is that this is where John Wesley preached in 1757, 1777, 1779, 1787 and 1790, and where the early figures of Leicester Methodism worshipped: Jinny Sykes, the rag collector and John Brandon, the dragoon. At Lewis’s death in 1768 a mistake in the contract for the original purchase meant that the barn became the property of his son. His widow, Ann, re-purchased the barn and, once again, presented it to the Methodists. The mosaic work in the foreground once marked the entrance to the sometime subway through to the Newarke.