The Wesley Centre is situated in the heart of Malton and in its setting, the historic building is widely considered to be an iconic landmark in the town, by community users, residents and visitors alike.

We propose to re-order our Church building to make it suitable for use by the whole community, and as such to create a living and thriving space – open all day, every day, welcoming everyone as they are – being particularly aware of and having a concern for those outside of the immediate Church family.

Our story starts in the late 18th century

The first Methodist Church in Malton had been established in Old Maltongate during the middle of the 18th century, and Methodism’s founder John Wesley, preached there in the early 1770’s – such was the growing strength of Wesley’s new ‘movement’. Keen to be conciliatory towards Methodists of the day, the 4th Earl Fitzwilliam struck a deal, bartering two houses and the Methodist Chapel in Old Maltongate – for the granting of a rent free site on which to build a new chapel in Saville Street. The barter was to the advantage of Methodists as the new site was 223 square yards larger than the old property. The Earl also proved to be the largest donor to the building fund giving £223 towards the cost of the new church – quite deliberately the gift equating to £1 per additional square yard.

There are currently about 75 million Methodist people worldwide

Yet this Christian denomination only began in the mid-eighteenth century in Britain, due in part to the strong leadership, extensive travelling and organisational abilities of John Wesley – the most prominent 'Founder of Methodism'. Whilst there has been a steady decline in membership over the last 50 years, today there are still around 188,000 members of the Methodist Church in Great Britain.

Large ‘Methodist Preaching Chapels’ were developed prolifically across the country during the 19th and early 20th century – in towns and cities, and huge so-called ‘Central Halls’ complemented these places of worship, some with a seating capacity of up to 2,000 or more – such was the popular appeal of Methodism, and its reputation for great preaching and hearty singing.

A new building for Malton in 1811

Built by public subscription, the present William Jenkins-designed building in Malton was opened in August 1811, originally seating 700. In a religious census in the town in 1812, Saville Street’s Sunday congregations are recorded as being: “550 in the forenoon, 300 in the afternoon and 700 in the evening.”  200 attended both the weekday prayer meeting and the weekday sermon.

Whilst many of these ‘super’ churches or so called ‘central halls’ in city high streets have now disappeared or their sites re-developed, the Methodist Church today encourages greater use of these wonderful buildings that survive, supporting their partial re-purposing for the benefit of the whole community. Malton's beautiful building is no exception. 

Reviewing options for a sustainable future  

The surprise news in the late summer of 2015 that there were potentially very serious structural problems with the roof of the building focussed minds. Discussions continued during the autumn of 2015, and on Tuesday 17 November 2015, a number of specific options were explored, including permanent closure.

After careful consideration, the congregation overwhelmingly elected to explore the viability of undertaking a sympathetic redevelopment of its building.  This work continued throughout 2016, 2017 and the first part of 2018, when a suitable scheme was finalised.

Following completion of the first phase of its planned redevelopment for the Wesley Centre, the £120,000 repair of the roof was completed during the first half of 2018, and the iconic building re-opened again on 4 June 2018.