Walking in London with Wesley

It’s hard to believe that today was my last full day in London – if I think about it for too long, I start to get a little teary-eyed, so I’ll just jump in to tell you about my Saturday.

Every British Studies class had final exams this morning, except for us. (We’re special!) We did however have to either meet with Dr. Welsh and Dr. Griffis to tell them our research paper title, problem statement, and research questions, or send them an email with said pertinent information. Since I only solidified my topic a few days ago, I decided to meet with the professors to make sure we were all on the same page. The meeting was successful, and I was soon on my way to continue my research. As I’ve mentioned before, London is a late riser, particularly on the weekends, and many of the city streets were uninhabited… it was a lovely and peaceful way to start the day as I walked from site to site or hopped on empty double decker buses.

During my first trip to Wesley’s Chapel, I picked up a number of brochures – one of them was titled John Wesley’s London Walking Map, and leads interested parties on an approximately two-hour walk to 15 sites that are related to John Wesley’s life and ministry  in London. The tour began at Wesley’s Chapel and lead me to prominent sites such as the Bunhill Fields burial ground, where Wesley’s mother, Susanna is buried. Other notable figures buried in the graveyard include the poet William Blake, Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, and John Bunyan, the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress.

John Wesley's Walking Tour Map

John Wesley’s Walking Tour – Courtesy of http://www.methodistheritage.org.uk/londonwalkingtour.htm

Two of my favorite stops along the way were the Museum of London and my return to St. Paul’s:

The Museum of London was built in 1976, and details the history of London from prehistoric times (prior to the Roman era) all the way to today. Ironically, this was the museum I skipped on Wednesday morning in order to conduct research – now my research has led me here! Outside of the Museum is the Aldersgate Flame, a memorial plaque built in 1981 which commemorates Wesley’s profound conversion experience on May 24, 1738, on that very site. In his writings, Wesley described the experience with phrases such as “I felt my heart strangely warmed…”

Aldersgate Flame - John Wesley's Conversion Place Memorial outside of the Museum of London

Aldersgate Flame – John Wesley’s Conversion Place Memorial outside of the Museum of London

Wesley also appears inside the Museum of London, which has multiple permanent gallery displays. The Expanding City: 1666-1850s gallery is home to a few items relating to Wesley, including a portrait of him giving his last sermon on February 23, 1791, as well as other memorabilia.

I backtracked my way to St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was stunning on this sunny Saturday. By this time, people were out and about with their giant cups of coffee, lounging on the Cathedral’s steps. Though I’ve been to St. Paul’s multiple times, I never knew there was a statue dedicated to Wesley on the church grounds, so I had to go on a bit of a scavenger hunt to locate it.

John Wesley's Statue - St. Paul's Cathedral

John Wesley’s Statue – St. Paul’s Cathedral

Located in the northwest corner of the churchyard, the bronze statue stands 5 feet, 1 inches tall – Wesley’s height in real life – and was erected in 1988. Inscribed on the plaque are these words that encompass a pillar of Methodist teachings:

By Grace ye are saved through Faith 

The statue is a cast of the original marble statue, created by Samuel Manning, and the original can be found today in the Methodist Central Hall, a Methodist church, conference centre, and art gallery in Westminster.

I have to say that the walking tour helped me capture a sense of Wesley’s life in London, as well as the legacies he has left behind – it is clear that Wesley was truly an influential Briton, and though the US has the largest population of Methodists in the world, it is all too easy to forget to trace our church history back to England. My feet may be tired, but my mind is churning with thoughts and ideas for my research paper.

Cheers to a successful and productive morning,

Taylor

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