Circuit plans

One of the common features of all branches of Methodism is that the individual chapels are organised into Circuits. The ministers are appointed to a Circuit for a period of up to five years, and the services in all the chapels are taken by them or a number of local preachers (unpaid men and women who have other daily occupations). To ensure that they, and their congregations, know who is preaching where and when a preaching plan is published every three months (Quarter).

Where they survive these can be very valuable documents as they list all preaching places at any one time, and all the ministers and local preachers with an indication of where they lived. Some plans also list the leaders of the chapels (Stewards) and give an indication of the strength of the cause through membership figures. Another indication could be the number of services being held. As time went on some plans became more detailed, giving full addresses for the preachers with an indication of when they commenced to preach; and details of all the business meetings of the Circuit, with lists of other church officers. They are the sort of record you would expect to find in record offices.