Preston, Lancashire, England
Preston, Lancashire, England is a city of great significance in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The first missionaries of the faith, including Elders Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde of the Quorum of the Twelve, along five others, arrived at the docks in Liverpool on July 20, 1837. Two days later they arrived in Preston, a distance of about thirty-seven miles. Reverend James Fielding, brother of Elder Joseph Fielding, one of the missionaries, lived and served his pastorate in the Vauxhall Chapel in Preston. Sermons were delivered by the missionaries the following day, Sunday July 23, and during the week, leading to the first baptisms of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Great Britain. Nine baptisms were performed on the following Sunday in the River Ribble where it flows through Preston. Researchers have written that Preston has the oldest continuously functioning Church unit in the world. Beginning that day, tens of thousands of converts would come from the British Isles over the next half century.
When the missionaries arrived in 1837, Preston was a city approaching 50,000 inhabitants. It was a factory town where dozens of mills employed thousands of workers whose wages were at the poverty level. Housing, sanitation, and other environmental conditions were woefully inadequate. It was in such conditions that the work began in the British Isles. One of the places where the missionaries would preach was the Market Square. After being moved and stored for a while, an obelisk that was there then is still there at the present time, but in a different place. Some believe that the small structure housing the retail establishment seen below was there at the time the missionaries first labored there.
Following his first mission to England beginning in 1837, Elder Heber C. Kimball returned with others in the Twelve for a second mission. At an 1840 conference in Preston presided over by Elder Brigham Young, Elder Kimball was assigned to serve in the same general area a second time. Future Church president Gordon B. Hinckley served in Preston as a young missionary in the 1930s. Years later, President Hinckley announced that the Preston Temple would be built in nearby Chorley. That temple, one of the largest in Europe, was dedicated by President Hinckley in 1998.
Map and Directions
Sites in Preston associated with the first LDS missionaries are all public places and can be viewed by any and all who are interested.
Articles & Resources
LaMar Garrard, in Donald Q. Cannon, ed., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History, British Isles, 93.
James B. Allen, Ronald K. Esplin, David J. Whittaker, Men With a Mission, 1837-1841: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the British Isles, 28-41.
V. Ben Bloxham, James R. Moss, Larry C. Porter, eds., Truth Will Prevail: The Rise of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the British Isles 1837-1987, 46-47.
Richard L. Evans, A Century of “Mormonism” in Great Britain, 22-33.