A young minister who was to become world famous developed his ideas in this district.
It was William Booth, aged 23, called to this area to be a minister of the Free or Reformed Methodists in the Spalding Circuit of 1852.
At that time people had to pay for their pews and William could see that the very people who needed to have religion in their life couldn’t afford to come to church, according to Lieutenant Colonel Sylvia Dalziel. Sylvia and her husband Lieutenant Colonel Peter Dalziel, both retired Salvation Army officers, are the face of the Salvation Army in Spalding.
That injustice, and the ideas that formed as he walked the district as one of the early “travelling preachers”, spawned William’s ideas about evangelism.
He went on to become General William Booth, the great evangelist and founder of the Salvation Army.
William Booth’s time in the district is to be acknowledged by Spalding and District Civic Society in October when the latest blue plaque will go up in his honour.
The civic society undertook research to establish where the plaque should go. One possibility was Red Lion Street, where he once lodged, according to the civic society, whose members discovered he later moved to Bridge Street, on the site now occupied by Boots Opticians.
Judy Chapman liaised with fellow civic society member John Charlesworth in researching William Booth’s time in the town. They also had help from Broad Street Methodist Church.
Judy said: “We have been looking into this for quite some years now. It has taken a long time because it is difficult to research where he lodged when he was in Spalding because it was between censuses. By a process of elimination we have discovered he lodged in the three-storey section of what is now Boots Opticians. A lot of that part of town was bombed in World War Two, but that bit is still standing.”
Sylvia said: “I think it is very important for the town because the fact that William Booth eventually became the founder of the Salvation Army is a great thing for Spalding.
“It was here that many of William Booth’s ideas were spawned about evangelism because he was a great preacher and evangelist. When he moved to London and saw the great depth of despair in which people were living and the poverty, that is when his ideas developed.”
The unveiling of the plaque to William Booth will be carried out by his great great grandson, Colonel Bramwell Booth, a retired Salvation Army officer, on October 17 at 12.30pm.
It has also been arranged that some Salvation Army musicians will play before the ceremony.