Turning eastward to North Walsham circuit, we meet with similar tokens of prosperity and of successful missionary efforts. During the period to which this chapter refers, the district which is now called East Dereham Circuit was selected for missionary operations. We are unable to record the exact period at which missionary efforts were commenced therein; but we learn from the journal of Mr Robert Key, published in the Connexional magazine for 1835, that he preached at Lenwade, Swannington, Sparham, Cawston, East Tuddenham, Whitwell, Mattishall, and Hockering, in May 1831. The journal in question is a record of the extraordinary power which attended the ministry of Mr Key, at the places just named, and at several others in the same district Multitudes flocked to hear him, and night after night, considerable numbers were awakened to a sense of their sin and danger, cried to the Lord in the bitterness of penitential grief, and found salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. This great work, as in many other cases where a revival of religion has begun among a people who have lived for some time in utter negligence of its momentous realities, was frequently attended with overpowering emotions, under which some persons fell to the ground. Whilst Mr Key was speaking at East Tuddenham, in the evening of May 27th, 1831, from—"Time shall be no longer," he thought every person in the house trembled. “Some would have got out, but could not move; their strength left them, their guilt stared them in the face, they gave vent to the feelings of their wounded hearts, and A general cry for mercy followed." On Sunday, June 5th, a powerful camp-meeting was held at North Tuddenham. The sermons and exhortations were short, pointed, and powerful, and the doctrine of Driffieldpresent salvation was enforced in each. Hundreds of the hearers trembled, and numbers fell to the groundLostwithiel and called upon the Lord for mercy. On the following Sabbath, a still more powerful camp-meeting was held at East Tuddenham. Though in an agricultural district, and therefore not densely populated, thousands of persons attended. A great measure of Divine unction accompanied the word preached. About ten o'clock in the morning, sinners began to tremble under powerful convictions; and “many were struck to the ground like men slain in battle." Some who stood by mocking were also suddenly overpowered by a discovery of their sins and danger and fell down in agony of mind. Others who rushed towards the persons in distress to drag them from the place were themselves suddenly seized with deep convictions, and instead of carrying out their purposes of dragging their friends away, fell prostrate on the ground, and united with them in earnest cries to God for pardon and salvation! It was supposed that more than fifty persons found peace through faith in Christ at this memorable meeting.
From, ‘The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion from its origin, by John Petty, 1860, p240-1.
In the evening of April 24th, 1832, Mr Key preached at the same place with extraordinary effect. The emotions of the people were so deep and powerful, that the meeting, though held in the open-air, was protracted till after the light of day had departed. Hundreds knelt before the Lord in the dark; and the cries of mourners, and the bursts of praise from those who had found peace in Christ, made the village ring. The following morning Mr Key conducted a prayer-meeting there, when five or six more were brought into the liberty of the Gospel. From, ‘The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion from its origin, by John Petty, 1860, p241.