Religious non-conformity in Gloucestershire was the topic for this year’s meeting. About 20 local history societies from all over the county, including the FHS, brought their displays relating to non-conformity in their own particular area. Interestingly, Charlton Kings only had one chapel, whereas Fairford had at least five in the mid to late 19th Century.
There were two informative talks: the first from the Rev Ernest Clark about John Wesley and George Whitefield, who were almost contemporaries at Oxford University and both members of the Society of Methodists movement but who developed their ideas in different ways. Both Wesley and Whitefield went to Georgia, USA as missionaries. Wesley came back after year but Whitefield maintained his strong links with the United States and returned many times and when he died there in 1770 he left the wish that if a memorial service be held in England that John Wesley should take the service, which was fulfilled. Both Whitefield and Wesley preached all over the Gloucestershire area.
The second talk was from Averil Kear from the Gloucestershire Record Office on ‘The Power of the Chapel’ relating to her own particular area of the Forest of Dean but it could have related to any area of the County. She gave the historical background of non -conformity in the late 17th Century when alternative religions were banned from 1662 until 1672 when Charles II attempted to introduce a greater degree of religious tolerance with his Declaration of Indulgence which Parliament forced him to withdraw.
The Nailsworth society won the prize for the best display. The Bryan Jerrard Award for the writer of the best published article on local history in the past year was won by an article about Early District Nursing in Gloucestershire by Carrie Howse in Gloucestershire History No 20, 2006.