One aspect of culture that undoubtedly affected Evangelicals was its popular dimension. There were deep-seated patterns of inherited custom among the common people that necessarily interacted with the gospel. This was the plebeian culture celebrated by E.P. Thompson, with its respect for fairness, its strain of neighbourliness and its variety of rough but vibrant ways.2 It was remoulded by the process of industrialisation and the growth of literacy but it nevertheless retained much of its resilience into the twentieth century before it was transformed once more by the mass media. It included a great deal of superstition, with traditional events such as bonfires and well-dressings marking the cycle of the seasons, and consultations with wise women as in the novels of Thomas Hardy. Popular beliefs of this kind were by no means confined to the countryside but still flourished in London in the early twentieth century. Charms, amulets and a powerful sense of

‘luck’ remained deeply rooted among cockneys.3 This dimension of popular culture, open to the supernatural, seems to have formed an initial advantage to evangelists on entering an area. Thus in west Cornwall, belief in a shadowy local spirit called

‘Bucca’, who had to be propitiated if fisherman were to expect success, helped to prepare the way for the huge impact of Methodism on the region.4 Although there

were tensions between superstition and orthodoxy, the locals at least had a lively awareness of a spiritual dimension to life. As Evangelical faith put down roots in an area, furthermore, its sacred worldview often meshed into folk religion. At Staithes on the North Yorkshire coast, for example, a Methodist harvest festival of the late twentieth century was plausibly explained by a visiting sociologist as having as much to do with the potency of nature as with distinctively Christian faith.5 There seems to have been, for good or ill, a great deal of common ground between Evangelicalism and popular culture.