John Wesley, the Founder of the Methodist Church, and his exploits in Roughlee and Barrowford.
On 25th August 1748, John Wesley was preaching outdoors in the village of Roughlee in Pendle, at Waterfall Cottage and on the nearby bridge.
He was accompanied by, amongst others, Mr Grimshaw, the Minister of Haworth. Rev Grimshaw was a clergyman of the Church of England, and very sympathetic towards Wesley and his mission.
As Wesley says in his Journal for that day, “I had about half finished my discourse, when the mob came pouring down the hill like a torrent.” (Wesley, 1902 p. 161). To prevent any bloodshed, he and his friends were whisked off by “their captain” to Barrowford, where they took refuge in a house, owned at the time by John Hargreaves, known as the Cotton King.
The house was later to become The White Bear Inn, and is situated in the centre of Barrowford, on Gisburn Road at its junction with Pasture Lane, post code BB9 6EP.
Later in the day, when asked by the leaders of the mob to promise never to preach at Roughlee again, Wesley answered, “I would sooner cut off my own hand than make any such promise.” The White Bear is still a pub and has an information board inside with details of the events. It is certainly worth a visit for this alone.
The day after, Wesley and his friends were staying in Widdop, where he wrote a letter giving more details of the previous day’s events. Here he recalls how he was struck in the face and how Mr Grimshaw was thrown down “with the utmost violence” by the drunken mob. It sounds like they had a very narrow escape!
Despite all this, three days later on Sunday 28th August, John Wesley and his friends rode over to Goodshaw, near Rawtenstall, where he began preaching at 7:00 in the morning. Such was the resilience and determination of John Wesley to preach the good news of Jesus Christ.
This is all set out in more detail in John Wesley’s Journal, for the dates 25th August – 28th August 1748, including the letter.
NB: the website referred to has the date as 1774 for this event. The correct date, according to John Wesley’s Journal, is 1748.
Wesley, J. abridged Parker, P.L., (1902) John Wesley’s Journal. London: Isbister
White Bear, Barrowford • whatpub.com (consulted May 2021)