One of the interesting factoids of church history is that for a brief period in the 1840s there were more Mormons in Great Britain than in the United States. Beginning with the mission of the Twelve to England, Mormon missionaries were very successful in Britain, especially in the so-called “potteries” region around Manchester. (Momon missionaries didn’t seem to do so well in London, and Wilford Woodruff had some choice things to say about the city in his journal.) The greatest missionary success came among the so-called United Brethren. The United Brethren were a splinter group that had broken off from Methodism. (Methodism had become very popular in Britain, especially among the working class, in the late 19th and early 19th centuries.) The United Brethren were worried about issues of divine authority and Christian primativism. When Wilford Woodruff preached to a congregation of the Brethren in Preston, England, the whole congregation joined the Church, and Mormonism spread like wild fire among other United Brethren and Methodist congregations around Britain. This humble church, located in the vicinity of Worcestershire, England began as a United Brethren chapel. When the congregation largely converted to Mormonism, it was donated to the Church in 1840. Hence is is one of the oldest — perhaps the oldest — Mormon building outside of the United States. When it was acquired by the Church in 1840, it was the only Mormon chapel in the world. (The Saints in Nauvoo and elsewhere did not have a chapel.)
The Church’s UK website has more information here
Fascinating! Nate, where do you learn about such interesting Mormon historical tidbits? You seem to be the resident expert on Mormon history, so I thought I’d ask.
I just read books on Mormonism. (Or at least I used to read books on Mormonism before I strated work and devoted all outside reading to law.) Wilford Woodruff’s diaries make a good read and you can get an abridged version of them from Signature Books (_Waiting for World’s End_). For a general introduction to church history, read Allen & Leonard, _The Story of the Latter-day Saints_ or Arrington, _The Mormon Experience_. There is also a book on the history of the mission of the Twelve to Britain. I think that the title is something like _Men With a Mission_. I got the info on the Gadfield Elm chapel from the church’s UK website.
Another book which covers most of the introductory areas of British LDS history, is Truth Will Prevail, I believe it is available through Church Distribution. I have three copies, and could send you one, but it is only a couple of dollars through the Church. I am am currently half-way through my Ph.D., focussing on the rise of the Church in the Staffordshire Potteries, and its relationship to the over whelming working class acceptance rather than the ‘Middlings’ or Upper Class. For the Staffordshire Potteries: It was here that Wilford Woodruff came in to contact with William Benbow, the brother of John Benbow, whose congregation the United Brethren were, and his farm where many of them were baptised. It was from here that some of the most important groundwork was done, including immigration. Also from Staffordshire, the first missionary to Australia, oh I could go on, so much trivia and so little time………….
I’ve heard of the famous John Benbow.
John Benbow? Who is (or was – as the case may be) that?
I think I read a monograph on him once – but I’m not sure.
No, Nefareus, what you read a monograph on was Vocal Reverberation Under Spinal Pressure — you know, VRUSP.
My grandfather, Arthur B. Erekson, wrote a book about John Benbow.