Epworth is an attractive small market town in the Isle of Axholme between Doncaster and Scunthorpe. It is away from the busy M180 and the main roads and still retains an old fashioned feel. Locals never appear to be in a hurry and have time to stop and talk. I was greeted by everyone I passed.
Apart from a small branch of the Co-Op, Epworth is served by small family owned businesses. The chain stores which are the blight of many high streets have not arrived here yet. There is everything you could want with two excellent bakers, greengrocer, flower shop and a range of boutiques and gift shops. It still maintains several pubs as well as a range of tea shops and eating places. I can recommend the Fish and Chips in “Ocean 52”:http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/restaurant/162798-review-oceans-52 and the cakes in the “Tiny Tea Shop.”:http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/restaurant/162091-review-the-tiny-teapot
The Mechanics Institute near the Market Place, set up to provide eduction for working men, is one of only two in England which is still a library.
Epworth attracts a steady stream of tourists for its Wesley family connections and the birth of the Methodist Movement. There is a town trail taking visitors around the main sites linked to John Wesley and Methodism.
Samuel and Susanna Wesley came to Epworth in 1695 when Samuel was appointed as Rector at “St Andrew’s Church.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/lincolnshire/lincolnshire_two/epworth_andrew/index.html All the Wesley children including John were baptised in the church. Samuel is buried in the churchyard. John preached from the top of his father’s tombstone when he was banned from preaching in the church. The remains of the Market cross where he also preached can still be seen in the Market place.
John was still an Anglican clergyman at his death. His intention was to reform the Church of England not establish a splinter movement. The Methodist Movement only began after his death.
The “Old Rectory”:http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/attraction/162996-review-epworth-old-rectory where the family lived is now a museum and is being restored to what it might have been like when the Wesleys lived there.
“The Wesley Memorial Methodist Church”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/lincolnshire/lincolnshire_two/epworth_methodist/index.html was built in 1889 as a memorial to the Wesleys.
The Isle of Axholme is an undiscovered part of North Lincolnshire. It has an interesting history and was drained in the C17th by Dutchman Cornelis Vermuyden. Before then it was a marshy area with streams, bogs and meres. All the early settlement was on the higher ground as the lower areas regularly flooded in winter. It is now a rich agricultural area and the medieval system of strip farming can still be seen between Epworth and Haxey. Every year Epworth hosts the Festival of the Plough with everything from horse drawn ploughs, vintage machinery to modern tractors. It repays discovering and exploring.