” Wesleyan Methodist Chapel – 1884 ” was the inscription on the gable end of the first chapel in Meriden, but for more than 60 years before that there had been cottage meetings in the village.
The first chapel was originally part of the old hall, purchased from Mr. Elliot of Burton-on-Trent for £187.10s.0d. The building was about 300 years old. A schoolroom was added at a cost of £185.
In due course it became necessary to consider new premises and moneyraising events commenced. In 1956 a new church hall was opened and in 1967 the present church was dedicated.
The village of Meriden has continued to grow and many more people now reside in the village. The Methodists have maintained their witness, providing morning and evening worship, a junior church, and a Supper Club. Various external organisations also make use of the premises.
The society at Meriden has 26 members who all enjoy good relations with the local parish church of St. Laurence, and Meriden Christian Fellowship.
To the North of Meriden at Kinwalsey is an oak tree under which John Wesley is said to have preached and to this day it is known as “the preachers tree”.
Each year, in June, the Coventry Circuit holds an open-air service at the site of the original Kinwalsey tree, or Kinwalsey Church as it appeared to be known, where it is believed that John Wesley may have preached.
Quoting from “Methodism in Meriden ”, a booklet compiled in 1984 by Michael Harris, a local preacher in the Coventry Circuit, and Albert Peck, the Circuit Archivist, at the time of the centenary of Meriden Methodist Church , we read that:
‘There is no doubt that among the travellers who passed through this village was the founder of Methodism. John Wesley had visited Coventry on July 21st/22nd 1779, though on that occasion he had arrived in the town from the north, having preached at Hinckley and Foleshill. It is from that date that we may claim the establishment of Wesleyan Methodism in Coventry and its surrounding area. Three years later, however, on July 15th 1782, Wesley travelled from Birmingham to Coventry, stopping on the way to preach in various hamlets. It is not stretching the bounds of historical credulity too far to assume that he may well have preached in the vicinity of Meriden.’
The following is an extract from “Humerous Reminiscences of Coventry Life” by T W Whitley.
Beating the Bounds (1884)
There are many stories connected with various parish boundary marks in the county; that of the Kinwalsey elm, a curious tale of its origin is told. The tree stands at the junction of Meriden , Fillongley and Hampton parishes. Under its branches John Wesley and other divines are said to have preached. It is locally known as “ Kinnesy Church ” and “Kinnesy Pulpit”, and on its venerable trunk parish and other notices are duly posted as on a Church door. “Many years ago,” says a local informant, “in the times of the Edwards, a man and a woman were caught robbing the hen roost of a neighbouring farmstead when, many prior depredations being proved against them, they were doomed to death, according to custom, by a jury of the villagers, who immediately proceeded to use lynch law, and so hung them on the nearest tree, from which, when taken down, their bodies were cast into a hole dug on the then common at the crossing of the roads at Kinwalsey, with a stake driven through them. But” continued the local informant, “the stake was green, and its head got blunted with repeated blows from the woodman’s maul, when, in time, wonderful to relate, the stake took root and grew into a tree, and its bare and blunted end, with branches growing out only from the sides, proved the tradition and the force of the woodman’s stroke”.