A brief history of the Methodist people in Knaresborough from 1742 to date
The attractive name of ‘Gracious Street’ takes it roots from the Anglo Saxon word which means “ditch houses” and refers to the houses which were built alongside the town ditch, which was probably an open sewer.
The name 'Gracious Street' has been associated with the Methodist Chapel in Knaresborough for many years. Whilst it is a familiar sight to us, it is not the first building to have stood there and, in fact, not the first place in Knaresborough where Methodists have met.
We don’t know the precise date that Methodism started in Knaresborough. We do however, know that on the 27th May 1742, John Wesley rode though the town on his way to Newcastle and had a brief conversation with a man walking along the street that night. This conversation must have had a real impact because a small group began to meet and the people called 'Methodists' grew in numbers.
By 1795 a small meeting house had been erected at Bond End. As numbers grew, there was a requirement for a larger building, so in 1815, there was a move to Gracious Street.
1868 saw the opening of a large galleried Victorian chapel on the site of our present church and allowed the previous building to be adapted to provide premises for a day school and a Sunday school. The premises made an important contribution to the town’s education for many years and were used by the military during both world wars.
When it was no longer needed as a school it was used as a Church Hall and Community Centre.
The Victorian building became difficult to manage and by the end of the 1960s it was decided to demolish it and build again.
In 1975 the third (and existing) church was erected. Gracious Street Methodist people have always been a community focussed fellowship and the original 1815 building has continued to serve Knaresborough well and it has been adapted to provide for all kinds of meetings and activities.
To bring the premises right up to date, the last phase of building work was completed in 2009 when the worship area and halls were linked together, creating a 'bridge.' This not only connects our two buildings but also provides a bridge between church and community. It offers a coffee bar, pre-school facilities, office space and a meeting room.
Finally, in 2014, the worship area of the church was refurbished to create a more open space at the front, accommodating today’s styles of worship. An area for prayer and quiet daily reflection was also created in the vestibule. The lighting and sound system was upgraded, the carpets renewed and whole area redecorated to give a fresh look.
Gracious Street Methodist Church is now affectionately known locally as 'COGS' The Centre on Gracious Street and our building continues to be an essential part of the mission and ministry of this fellowship as we continue to serve the community in which we are placed.