Gloucestershire Places of Worship

John Wesley's Chapel ("The New Room"), Bristol (1) (100k) John Wesley's Chapel ("The New Room"), Bristol (2) (86k) John Wesley's Chapel ("The New Room"), Bristol (3) (71k) John Wesley's Chapel ("The New Room"), Bristol (4) (79k) John Wesley's Chapel ("The New Room"), Bristol (5) (57k) John Wesley's Chapel ("The New Room"), Bristol (6) (62k) John Wesley's Chapel ("The New Room"), Bristol (7) (66k) Above Photograph(s)
Copyright of John Williams
John Wesley's Chapel ("The New Room"), Bristol
John Wesley's Chapel ("The New Room") (link to Chapel's website)
The Horsefair,
Bristol, Gloucestershire.

Cemeteries

We believe the Chapel does NOT have a graveyard.

Note: any church within an urban environment may have had its graveyard closed after the Burial Act of 1853. Any new church built after that is unlikely to have had a graveyard at all.

Church History

This Place of Worship was founded in 1739, and we understand it is still open.

Surprisingly, John Wesley's Chapel, or "The New Room" as it is known, is not mentioned in Webster & Co.'s Postal and Commercial Directory of the City of Bristol, and County of Glamorgan (1865), whereas the newer Wesleyan Chapel in Old Market-street is. Perhaps "The New Room" hadn't then achieved the notoriety it has now, as the oldest surviving Methodist chapel building in the world. According to Non-Conformist Chapels and Meeting Houses, Gloucestershire (1986), it was built to accomodate "certain religious societies formerly meeting in Nicholas Street and Baldwin Street. These societies had been fostered by George Whitefield, but on his departure to America their oversight passed to John Wesley". Wesley records the laying of a foundation stone on 12 May 1739. It was sold to Welsh Calvinistic Methodists in 1808, who occupied it until 1929, when it was repurchased by the Methodists, and restored under the direction of Sir George Oatley.

Oatley's restoration was followed, in 1930, by the acquiring of a small chamber organ, by John Snetzler, given by Little Plumstead Church, in Norfolk. Notable also is an octagonal skylight, which can be seen from Google Satellite view.

The Bristol Town Plan of 1885 shows it surrounded on all sides by other buildings, so my first thought is how did its worshippers get in? According to the NCC booklet, the original entrance from Horsefair was by a narrow alley, which opened up into a small court at the north east corner of the building ('Wesley Court' on the Map); however the main entrance was switched to the south end in 1748, and indeed this can be seen on the map as a long alley, reaching it from the Broadmead end. Today, however the entrance would appear to be from Horsefair through an archway, though which can be seen one of the statues of John Wesley. These are captured on our first two photographs.

Also shown on the map was a Sunday School, to the east of the Chapel, which shared part of its wall with Ebenezer Chapel (also Wesleyan Methodist), in Old King Street. The latter was demolished in 1954.

The New Room is now a Listed (Grade I) Building, as are the (two) statues of John Wesley in its grounds. See the British Listed Buildings website for more details.

Our other photographs show the main body of the Chapel, the Galleries on either side, and two views of the Pulpit. Note that the octagonal skylight may be seen in the view of the Left Gallery. The board for the Pulpit reads:

This is the place where Preachers, since the time of John and Charles Wesley, stand to speak to the people who come together for Worship. This talk is known as the 'Sermon'.
The sermon explains the Christian faith through the words of the Bible, and encourages the 'congregation' to develop their own faith. The Church believes that this reflects a message from God to his people, and it is carefully prepared after honest study and prayer.
The Methodist Church appoints and trains Ministers who preach and preside at the Communion Services. Equally valued is the Ministry of Preaching by lay women and men, who have been trained and recognised as 'Local Preachers'.

Denomination

Now or formerly Wesleyan Methodist.

If more than one congregation has worshipped here, or its congregation has united with others, in most cases this will record its original dedication.

Maps

This Chapel is located at OS grid reference ST5909273387. You can see this on various mapping systems. Note all links open in a new window:

Reference

  • Places recorded by the Registrar General under the provisions of the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 (2010) is available as a "Freedom of Information" document from the website What Do They Know.
Last updated on 4 May 2017 at 10:23.

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This Report was created 8 Nov 2017 - 16:08:08 GMT from information held in the Gloucestershire section of the Places of Worship Database. This was last updated on 30 Aug 2017 at 16:10.

URL of this page: http://churchdb.gukutils.org.uk/GLS1334.php
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