The 18th century saw a great religious revival in England, in which Nottingham played a central role, though the people involved were not always local. It was recognised that Nottingham was the centre of religious dissent where people took their faith very seriously and therefore Nottingham was the right place in which to preach and to launch new spiritual initiatives.
In 1776 John Wesley wrote, “There is something in the people of this town which I cannot but much approve of. I perceive that God has many people in this city.”
Another preacher, William Carey, from Towcester, came to Nottingham in 1792 and attended a meeting with 17 other ministers. On May 30th 1792 he preached in a chapel in Friar Lane on the text, “Enlarge the place of thy tent, thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles and make the desolate cities to be inhabited” (Isaiah 54:2-3). His theme was, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.”
William Booth, known throughout the world as the founder of the Salvation Army, was born into a poor family in Sneinton, Nottingham in 1829. Although Booth’s work began in London, it was in Nottingham that he had become aware of the needs of the poor: he said that he realised that action was necessary when he saw “the degradation and helpless misery of the poor stockingers of my native town wandering gaunt and hunger-stricken through the streets.”