A HISTORICAL discovery dating back hundreds of years has been made in a New Age shop in Weymouth.

It has been revealed that the founder of Methodism held the faith’s first meeting in Dorset in what is now Body, Soul and Spirit in Gloucester Street.

When Allison Chan opened the shop earlier this year she had no idea that John Wesley kickstarted the Methodist movement in Dorset on September 6, 1776, in what is now her home and business.

The discovery, which took 15 months of painstaking research, was made by John Russell, archivist and conservator at the Wesley Historical Society for Methodist churches in the south.

After the society realised Wesley had a Weymouth connection, Mr Russell inspected the deeds and indentures of Epworth Villa, 14 Gloucester Street – Alison’s shop and home.

With the help of the Dorset History Society, the Old English on the documents was translated to reveal that Wesley visited the house in 1776 to hold the first Methodist meeting in Dorset.

A Wesley Historical Society blue plaque will be unveiled on the side of the shop and house on Monday to commemorate the discovery.

Ms Chan, who sells a variety of New Age products ranging from chakra aura sprays to shamanic drums, said she and her business partner John Conway felt ‘an exceptionally serene atmosphere’ when they first viewed the building.

She said: “I’m really excited about this discovery.

“It’s like this property has chosen me rather than I have chosen it. I do feel like there are some spirits here.

“There have been quite a few coincidences where things have happened to allow us to move here in the first place.

“The estate agent described the property as ‘a bit quirky’ – I just didn’t realise how quirky it was until I started looking through the deeds.”

Mr Russell said the discovery will draw visitors to Weymouth.

He said: “People will come from all over the UK and from abroad to see the place where the first Methodist meeting was held in Dorset.

“Methodism is a faith celebrated all over the world and this is great publicity for Weymouth. As far as the Wesley Historical Society is concerned, this is a very significant find.”

The plaque will be unveiled by Weymouth and Portland Mayor Ray Banham on Monday, November 25 at 12pm.


EPWORTH Villa, the name of the building containing Alison’s shop and home, matches John Wesley’s birthplace – Epworth in Lincolnshire.

John Wesley’s father Samuel, his grandfather John and great-grandfather Bartholomew all came from Dorset.

John Wesley was born on June 17, 1703, and believed that Christian living depended on acts as well as faith and was vocal about ordinary people being excluded from church, so began to address the public in open areas, giving rise to ‘field preaching’.

Until his death in 1791 he continued to campaign on social issues such as prison reform and universal education.

Today there are around 70 million Methodists worldwide.