Hulland Bourne

One of the early Methodist preachers,or missionaries, as they were often called was John Benton who spent much of his time in this area. He was a man of some means, owning property and a coalmine. He spoke the very broad Staffordshire dialect which offended some of the better educated, but this did not in any way mar the wonderful work he did. Before he came to work in this area he and Eleazor Hathorn missioned villages and created societies in the villages of Warslow, Alstonefield, Hulme End, Milldale, Cow-head, Fleetgreen and Butterworth in Staffordshire. Eleazor was somewhat handicapped through having a wooden leg. This did not deter their work, we read that the people of these villages provided and maintained a horse for him to ride. This group of villages came to be known as Benton's Circuit. The work began in 1810 and was so successful that in 1813 Hugh Bourne requested that he be allowed to take over the circuit. Benton agreed and we read in Hugh Bourne's record of a quarterly meeting held at Boylestone on October 13th 1813 "I saw John Benton and he gave me direction for going into his circuit and spoke about the work and state of the people" Benton, having turned over the circuit in reply to an invitation from Belper, made a tour into the interior of Derbyshire and began his Mission with Eleazor Hathorn in the Belper area. It would appear from Bourne's writings that Benton concentrated on Hulland while Hathorn was more involved in the Weston Underwood district. They also missioned in other villages as well. Under a photograph of the Hulland Chapel and Green we read "the first open air preaching place in Hulland" In another place we read "John Benton took his stand under a large tree and preached with power." Amongst the earliest people to be influenced were John Harison, William Warren and John Wilson, many more were soon to follow. Eleazor Hathorn had a great success when he converted John Ride of Weston Underwood. He became a powerful influence in the district. Being involved in the the timber trade he bought a lot of trees in the Kniveton Parish. Whilst cutting down, trimming out and carting away he started a prayer meeting which developed into the Kniveton Society and Circuit. In 1813-14 Hugh Bourne and William Clowes wrote in the Connexion Journal "Hulland, Mercaston, Weston Underwood and Turnditch are Derbyshire villages full of vitality and rich promise." Along with Benson there were other influences at work. One was the Hulland Tract Mission. This was much talked about in the Connexion. Tract books, Hymn Books, Bibles etc were taken round houses and as opportunities arose prayers were prayed and religious instruction given. Mention is made of a young woman, a Mrs Mary Hawsley, who was the wife of a British soldier serving with the Army in Spain. When Mary joined the Primitive Methodists her mother turned her out of the home. Hugh Bourne in an endeavour to help Mary and make use of her gifts made her a travelling evangelist, "salaried", chiefly to work through the Tract Mission. Another young woman was also elected, Sarah Kirkland. These two became the earliest women travelling preachers who missioned both the cities of Nottingham and Derby. Another influence at work, and one that caused real problems, was the number of lax Wesleyans who failed to give regular attendance to their societies but were attracted to the more lively evangelistic preaching and singing of the Primitives. John Ride and family, Sarah Kirkland's father had a preaching service in his house at Mercaston. This too had lapsed. The influence of the Camp meetings also played a part. In 1823 Hugh Bourne wrote "The work flourishes at Mercaston, Hulland, Turnditch and Weston Underwood." John Benton and Eleazor Hathorn commenced the Missionary work at Hulland in 1813. This Chapel was built in 1821.