On a dull, cheerless winter day in February, 1830, two men approached Ashdown on the Berkshire Downs. John Ride and Thomas Russell were men on a mission - they were indeed Primitive Methodist missionaries. Thomas Russell, the younger of the two had already walked for several hours, a distance of some ten miles, across the Downs to meet his friend and fellow missionary. They went to a nearby wood in order to pray and talk. Their objective was simple: they needed to know that their mission to Berkshire would be spiritually successful.
In spite of the snow, and of personal discomfort, they fell to their knees and prayed passionately and earnestly to God. They prayed in faith for the success of their mission, to honour God, and save souls. Their passionate cry was “Lord, give us Berkshire! Lord, give us Berkshire!”
They pleaded with God in prayer for hours. At last Thomas Russell received inward assurance, rose to his feet, and exclaimed “that country's ours, that country's ours and we will have it!” He pointed across the landscape bounded by the Hampshire Hills some thirty miles distant. John Ride declared “I like your confidence of faith!”
They parted with the assurance that Berkshire would be won for Primitive Methodism. God heard and honoured this afternoon prayer in Ashdown. While John Ride and Thomas Russell pleaded for Berkshire, God gave also territory beyond. The dedication, faith and zealous prayer of the missionary pioneers paid handsome dividends. Out of the Berkshire mission sprang other missions in Hampshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and Surrey.
Abridged from the History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, Kendall, Chapter IV