John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, visited Reigate several times as he travelled the country to preach. He was apparently unimpressed with the place, especially compared to nearby Dorking, and recorded in his journal of 1771 that the people of Reigate were ‘dull indeed as stones’.
Nevertheless a Wesleyan Chapel was established in 1858, in Nutley Lane, and remained in use until 1884 when the present church was built in the High Street to accomodate the increase in attendance – a Sunday School had also been established in 1878, not long after the first Education Act. A site next to the existing Congregational church was bought for £3000. This was a considerable undertaking as the membership was around 30-40, but by the 1920s it had grown to about 140.
After the Second World War, the interior of the church was refurbished, with a central aisle, and the organ that had been installed in 1899 was rebuilt. A new ‘Joseph Rank Memorial Hall’ was built at the rear of the church in the 1950s with assistance from the Rank Trust, and membership continued to grow, reaching 329 in 1962. In addition, Sunday School classes were held for up to 180 children, generally on Sunday afternoons.
With repairs to the premises being required around this time, there was discussion with the Congregational church next door about a possible new building to be used by both churches. Eventually however the Congregational church moved from the High Street to the present Reigate Park URC site, while the Methodists continued as ‘the church in the High Street’.
The information above is taken from ‘Out of these stones’, a booklet written by Jack Bentley to mark the centenary of the church. As well as the history of the building, the booklet details the numerous outreach and youth work initiatives that have been started over the years. Some copies are still available in the church if you’re interested in finding out more.