Category Archives: United Kingdom

Rev. Graham Carter remembers Wesley sermon in Epworth

When Samuel Wesley died, the Wesley family moved from the Old Rectory in Epworth. John Wesley returned to the town where he grew up and preached to the town’s people. Rev. Graham Carter of the Old Rectory Board of Trustees discusses a sermon Wesley gave standing atop his father’s grave.

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Wesley Physic Garden at Old Rectory, Epworth

Behind the Old Rectory in Epworth, UK, you will find John Wesley’s Physic Garden. It opened in July 2006 and was created to celebrate the contribution made by Wesley to the well-being of the poor who were unable to pay for a physician. He wrote An Easy and Natural Way of Curing Most Diseases in 1747. The garden is an interpretation of a typical Georgian garden and not a reproduction of what was at the site. We placed photos from our visit on the JohnWesleyBlog flickr page.

You can find Wesley’s booklet also known as Primitive Physic here.

epworth garden

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Tour guide discusses seven Wesley sisters

We had a great tour at the Old Rectory in Epworth, UK, thanks to our guide through the Wesely house, Amy. She shared details of the Wesley family and important information discovered in the restoration of the house. Afterwards, she talked with me about the seven Wesley sisters.

A book written about the Wesley women is Seven Sisters in Search of Love by Frederick Maser.

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John Wesley, George Smiley and the University of North Carolina

The link to John Wesley, George Smiley and the University of North Carolina is the Rev. Vivian Hubert Howard Green. I am currently reading Green’s book Young Mr. Wesley, focused on Wesley’s years at Oxford and published in 1961. Wesley graduated from Christ Church at Oxford in 1724. He later became a fellow a Lincoln College. Green was a Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, for over 30 years and its Rector from 1983 to 1987. He wrote a full biography of Wesley in 1963.

One of Green’s students at Lincoln was John Le Carre, known for his spy novels. His trilogy that includes Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy tells the story of George Smiley. While Green never served in the British Secret Service, Le Carre acknowledged that he used Green’s temperment and outlook in creating the character of Smiley.

In the early 1980s, Green served a short period as a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina.

Read more about Green in this 2005 obit.

 

 

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Photo tour of the Epworth Old Rectory

Meet Amy, the tour guide for the Old Rectory, Epworth UK, the family home of John Wesley and see photos we took while Amy showed us the house on the JohnWesleyBlog flickr page. Amy provided an excellent tour, knew the story of the Wesley family and the details of the house. She pointed out specifics learned from the preservation efforts and shared stories about the Wesley family.

The Epworth Old Rectory souvenir guide states:

After Samuel Wesley’s death in 1735, the house continued to be the home for successive rectors of Epworth. Although it was recognized as the childhood home of John and Charles Wesley, it was not protected or preserved in any way, so each rector made it his own. Over the years, doors were moved, extensions were put up and taken down, plants grew across the front of the house and outbuildings were added.

By the 1950s, the Rectory was in a state of some disrepair, and the Church of England made the decision to build a new Rectory at the other end of the town. The Methodist church saw this as an opportunity to acquire it. Funds were raised from the world-wide Methodist community, and in 1954, the house was purchased by the Methodist Church.

In 2002, Epworth Old Rectory achieved the status of a Registered Museum and in 2009, it became an Accredited Museum. It is a Grade 1 listed building.

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Restoring the Wesley family home in Epworth

The Old Rectory in Epworth UK is held on trust by the British Methodist Church for the World Methodist Council. It is part of Methodist Heritage which oversees Methodist heritage sites in Britain including:

  • Wesley’s Chapel, the Museum of Methodism and John Wesley’s House and Tomb at City Road, London
  • The New Room, John Wesley’s Chapel at the Horsefair, Bristol
  • Englesea Brook Chapel and Museum of Primitive Methodism, near Crewe

The Epworth Old Rectory souvenir guide indicates

Plans are well advanced to complete the process of returning the rectory to the way it may have looked when the Wesleys lived there. Much research has been carried out so that the restoration is as near to the original as possible. It is a major project that entails installing underfloor hearing, replacing floors with traditional materials and analysis of wall finishes. Alongside this is a plan to improve access, interpretation and visitor facilities. The project has four phases:

  • Putting the hearth back into the home and external conservation
  • Improving access and interpretation
  • Restoring the Rectory
  • New visitor center and car park extension

rectory renovation project

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Rev Graham Carter discusses the Old Rectory in Epworth, UK

John Wesley’s life began in Epworth, UK. His family lived in the Rectory in the northern England community where his father served as the Anglican pastor. One of the shaping moments in young John’s life was a fire that destroyed the rectory. He was trapped in a second floor room and the family was unable to return to the house to save him. Neighbors formed a human ladder and pulled him from the flames as the room’s ceiling crashed down in flames. This fire occurred in February 1709. By December of that year, the family had returned to their new home at the site, the building today known as the Old Rectory. It is Methodist Heritage site. A Board of Trustees heads an organization working to restore the building that now serves as museum honoring John and Charles Wesley. Rev. Graham Carter chairs the board. He talks with us about the family and the house.

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Wesley travels in UK

We finally made it back to North Carolina after traveling the UK and France. We visited several Methodist heritage sites in the UK. I will share some photos and video of our visits in the coming days. Here are some of the photos from Wesley Chapel.

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Displayed in the Wesley Chapel museum are the chalices and collection plate used in the Foundery, the first meeting place for Methodists established by John Wesley in London.

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Displayed in the Wesley Chapel museum is a Bible found in restoration work at the Old Rectory in Epworth, UK.

More photos from Wesley Chapel and St Paul’s Cathedral are available on the JohnWesleyBlog flickr page.

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Visiting Wesley Chapel in London

Flight delays in the US resulted in a delayed arrival at Wesley chapel in London but assistant pastor Jennifer Potter greeted us warmly. She encouraged us to spend some time looking through the Methodist Museum and church’s sanctuary.

Rev Potter talked about the site’s connection to Wesley. Nearby was the foundery that served as the first Methodist meeting site and Wesley’s home.  Wesley had the chapel built when the foundery lease ran out. The church now serves as own active congregation as well as teaching site about early Methodism.image

Wesley Chapel or City Road Methodist Church, the mother church of the Methodist faith

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On display in the museum is the original pulpit from the founderyimage

The sanctuary in wesley chapel

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NC Bishop remembers her visit to Wesley sites in England

I talked today with Hope Morgan Ward, Bishop of the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church about her trip to England to visit historic Methodist sites. She and members of her cabinet were part of a tour in March 2014 that visited London, Oxford, Epworth and Bristol.

In our discussion, she told a story of visiting a remote chapel in northern England.

I came home very, very joyful to be a United Methodist. I have been a United Methodist my whole life. But there was something about particular places, hearing these stories again, standing on these places of holy ground that were spirit-forming for me.

I actually went over early with my mom. We rented a car and went up to Durham in the northeast corner of England. I had read that it was there that Methodism had flourished. It spread so fast. And that there were small Methodist chapels. The oldest of these was near a place called Weardale.

From Durham, we rode into the mountains and across the dales and made our way to Weardale. We found Ireshopeburn church. It was locked. I went up and knocked on the door. Nobody answered. So I went around to a window and looked in the way we do sometimes so we can see inside, and frightened a member of the church who was cleaning. I startled her.

She motioned to us to come back to the door. She opened the door, and Mom and I went in the church. We were able to be in this church where John Wesley had preached 17 times.

There was on the wall a wonderful etching of John Wesley coming in to the Ireshopeburn church. In the etching, Wesley was riding on a horse with lots of people, young and old, surrounding the horse as he rides up to the church.

Underneath is a quotation from his journal, a Tuesday evening in May in which he says “We rode on to Weardale. I had been out of ardor all night and found myself greatly weakened. However, I trusted in the Strong for strength and began to preach to the gathered congregation. I did not stop until I finished my discourse. I did not want for strength, nor did the people want for a blessing.”

That quote was one of the great gifts of the trip for me in realizing the way in which our forebearers pressed on even beyond their strength to receive God’s strength to do this absolutely amazing work.

Ireshopeburn is the site of the High House Chapel, the oldest purpose built Methodist Chapel in the world to have held continuous weekly services since its foundation in 1760.

The interview was videotaped. I will work to get it edited and on the blog soon.
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