Burnley Civic Trust Heritage Image Collection

Sect That Was Founded At Wheatley (1 of 2)

13 April 1957
Wheatley Lane Inghamite Church

Media Ref: BEenv10378
Sect That Was Founded At Wheatley (1 of 2)
Sect That Was Founded At Wheatley (1 of 2)

The 14th minister at the church, the Rev Arthur Slaughter, examines one of his recent “finds” at his home this week. Although the fact is not generally realised, the beautiful 200-year-old Inghamite Church at Wheatley Lane is of universal significance – it is the Mother Church of one of the smallest Christian sects in the world! And that being the case, anything new which comes to light about it – like old documents and books recently unearthed by the present minister – has much more than parochial interest.
First, however, a little about the sect itself. An Inghamite has been described a a Calvanistic Methodist, a member of a breakaway movement founded by a Yorkshireman named Benjamin Ingham. Born in Ossett in 1712, he received a liberal education at Batley School and Queen’s College Oxford, and was ordained to the ministry in 1735. He was later prohibited from preaching in the Established Church, and it was then, in common with John Wesley, that he preached in fields, barns and houses in this locality. A book, published in 1813, which gives an account of Ingham’s activities in Lancashire and Yorkshire notes that up to 1752, he and his fellow preachers were “frequently in the most eminent danger, and for some time, persecutions increased in frequency, and with unabating violence.” In 1750, however, he had been successful enough to make it worthwhile building a church, and in that year, the Wheatley Lane church was opened and dedicated. Among those present at the ceremony was the Countess of Huntingdon, and two years later, Ingham married her sister-in-law, Lady Margaret Hastings. Referring again to the book published in 1813, a general meeting of Inghamites was held at Winewall (Colne) on New Year’s Eve, 1753, when Ingham delivered a letter to all his followers which began “In preaching, keep to your own gift and experience and do not go beyond your own depth. Avoid all affectation in words and gestures, and endeavour to express yourselves in plain Scriptural language.” Sound advice!
During the next few years, the Inghamite cause spread to such an extent that there were no fewer than 63 churches up and down the country, so that at his death in 1772, the founder had left behind him a flourishing society. Today, however, for one reason or another, the number has dwindled so that now there are only six churches. In addition to the Mother church, others will be found at Winewall, Cotton Tree, Kendal, Salterforth and Brantford, Ontario.
The 14th in a direct line from Ingham, the present minister at Wheatley Lane, the Rev Arthur Slaughter, told our reporter this week that he considers himself fortunate in the number of documents he has referring to the church and its founder, but he pointed out that the history is still very sketchy

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