Looking at Buildings

, printed from the Looking at Buildings website on Friday 23rd August 2019

Wesley's New Room

Map [1]

 

 

The world cradle of Methodism and its first purpose-built place of worship, this self-effacing chapel overflows with a magnetic calm that exceeds the sum of its parts. Founded by John Wesley who initiated the first meeting room, constructed with astonishing speed in 1739. The present structure probably dates mainly from 1748 when enlargement became essential. Stylistic similarities with the Friends' Meeting House at Quakers' Friars (1747) suggest the Quaker George Tully may have been the architect. A rectangular meeting room top-lit by an octagonal lanternGlossary Term [2] and with small side windows; with six stone TuscanGlossary Term [3] columns supporting panelled galleries, mahogany railed three-decker pulpitGlossary Term [4]. A pretty chamber organ in mahogany case, by Snetzler (1761) was installed in the galleryGlossary Term [5] 1930. In 1808 it became a Welsh Calvinist chapel, but was bought back in 1929 and sympathetically restored by Sir George Oatley 1929-30. It is hoped soon to recreate the 1748 paint scheme; grey-white limewashed walls and stone coloured oil paint for the woodwork. From the galleries, stairs lead to the upper rooms where Wesley and his fellow-preachers stayed, now a museum of Methodism. A fine example of C18 interiors of the humbler sort, containing small chimneypieces, window-seats, ventilated cupboards and simple panelled doors. The rooms are constructed around six wooden posts, each sitting atop one of the stone columns of the meeting room below; many thick layers of varnish beneath the C18 paint suggest they may be re-used ships' masts.

Last updated: Monday, 26th January 2009