Bilton Area Methodist Church came into existence as recently as 1st September 2009 as a result of the joining together into one church of the congregations of the former Bar Chapel and Grove Road Methodist Church. However, Methodism probably began among farming communities in the Bilton area as early as the mid-1800’s with people meeting together for worship in each other’s homes. During the 1860’s it is known that they met in the open air under a tree near the gate to St John’s Parish Church – and preached to the inhabitants of Bilton as they passed by!
As their numbers increased a permanent place for worship became essential and in 1865 a new Wesleyan Church was opened here on Skipton Road near the location of the Bilton toll bar. (Hence the former quaint name of Bar Chapel and our entrance from Bar Place off Roberts Crescent). The church was built from start to finish in a period of only four months at a cost of only £286.14s.4d but didn’t last long and was replaced by larger building, the oldest part of the present building, in 1889.
In those days when most people went to church on foot, churches served more localised communities than today so while Bar Chapel was building its congregation in 1889 from The more rural Bilton and New Park area, fellow Methodists down the road were meeting in the front room of a house in Chatsworth Place off Grove Road. When they outgrew that space they too raised the funds to build first a Sunday School Hall and then a new church in Grove Road reaching out to the more urban area between Kings Road and High Harrogate.
Over the years since then, the two churches have developed and served their own communities, co-operating as sister churches within the Harrogate Circuit, and sometimes sharing a minister. However with the national decline in numbers of church-goers and the rising costs of maintaining premises the decision was made by the two congregations in 2009 to come together as one church. Financial advice suggested that it would be better to sell the Grove Road premises and rebuild or redevelop the Bar Place buildings and that is where we stand today.
Hopes are high that in the not too distant future we shall have completely refurbished premises from which Bilton Area Methodist Church can reach out, in the terms of our mission statement:
To bring joy, peace and love to the people of North Harrogate by being part of the body of Christ in this place.