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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Wesley’s Chapel and the Museum of Methodism

As you may remember from a few weeks ago, Jade and I attended a moving service at Wesley’s Chapel on our first Sunday in London. So, needless to say, I woke up this morning with a feeling of excitement to return to this beautiful place! After some less-than-pleasant experiences in attempting to narrow down a research topic, I had an inkling that my experience today at Wesley’s Chapel would be a success – and I am happy to say to that I was correct! Though I got a little lost at first (the Old Street Tube Station is quite confusing!), I soon found my way back to the Chapel. Since London is a surprisingly late riser (hardly anything opens before 10 am), it was quiet and peaceful in the courtyard of the Chapel.

John Wesley Statue at Wesley's Chapel

Hello again, Mr. Wesley…

After enjoying those few peaceful moments, I wandered into the Chapel and downstairs into the Museum of Methodism.

Welcome to the Museum of Methodism

On my first visit to the Chapel, we briefly walked through the Museum, so it was nice to take my time walking through the displays and seeing the various documents, facsimiles, pamphlets, magazines, hymn books, and ephemera related to the history of Methodism – from John Wesley‘s time to the present. Wesley, who along with his brother Charles, are considered the co-founders of Methodism, built the Chapel in 1777, and moved into his house next-door in 1779. After his death in 1791, John Wesley was buried in the Chapel graveyard. The Chapel itself has sustained fire damage, survived World War II, and has undergone multiple renovations. In 1898, John Wesley’s House became a museum, and the Museum of Methodism opened in the crypt of the Chapel in 1984. The buildings have such a rich history, and are central to not only John Wesley’s life, but also of Methodism itself…

I also had a chance to speak with Christian Dettlaff, the Curator of the Museum; he was so friendly and was happy to answer some of my questions about the Museum. Since 1977, the University of Manchester has served as the official archive of the Methodist Church of Great Britain, but prior to this date, the archives were actually kept at Wesley’s Chapel and John Wesley’s House. Now that the bulk of Wesley’s papers are located in Manchester, the Museum today focuses mainly on acquiring

Wesley's Prayer Room

Wesley’s Prayer Room

documents and items related to the history of the Chapel and the House. Wesley’s House is packed with items belonging to the late theologian, including his furniture and personal library (consisting of 474 books); these books are used by researchers even today, and many of the books bear his signature on the inner cover.

All in all, it was a very productive morning for me at the Chapel, Museum, and House. The staff and volunteers made this born and raised United Methodist feel right at home, and it was rewarding to learn more about Wesley’s life as well as the history of Methodism itself, both for my personal and academic interests. The gift shop in the Museum was full of helpful materials for my research paper, including a complete catalogue of the collection of letters written by Wesley that are held at the Museum.

Though the formatting and structure of this research paper is unlike any paper I’ve ever previously written, I appreciate the fact that Dr. Welsh and Dr. Griffis are pushing us outside of our comfort zone – after all, isn’t that what traveling is all about?!

Until tomorrow,

Taylor

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New College Library and the Central Library

Part 1: New College Library 

Hello, everyone!

Our second full day here in Edinburgh has been action packed, so I’ll jump right in. Prepare yourself for lots of pictures!

This morning our class visited the New College Library, which serves the University of Edinburgh’s School of Divinity. It also happens to be one of the largest theological libraries in the UK, so this former Religious Studies major was thrilled!

Though Edinburgh is similar to London in many ways, there are some particular similarities, with one being architectural styles.

New College's courtyard view

New College’s courtyard view

Both cities have clearly been built throughout various historical periods, and so are home to buildings of medieval, gothic, Georgian, Victorian, and modern styles – but it is Edinburgh’s medieval and gothic buildings that stand out to me. This architecture was apparent from the view within the courtyard of New College, as seen in the picture to the right. But I digress…

Inside the New College Library are gorgeous stained glass windows that not only provide light but also a sense of peace and tranquility, which probably stems from the fact that the library was originally a church called the Free High Church; even today, when renovations and work are done in the library, great care is taken to ensure that the original building is left intact.

Main Floor - New College Library

Main Floor – New College Library

The library is primarily used by those in the Divinity School, but is open to the entire University as well as the general public. The current collection contains approximately 250,000 books, many of which are rare and valuable, and span a variety of subjects, both religious and otherwise. One interesting thing I noted is that the library contain Reserve books, which reminded me of my dear old Thomas Cooper Library (USC’s Main Library on campus, where I am also a Public Services Intern). Many academic libraries have Reserve books – this allows students to avoid spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on textbooks and instead check them out at the library; typically policies are in place, such as the textbooks cannot leave the building, and can only be checked out for 2-3 hours. Regardless, I think it is a great service to the University community and I can say firsthand from working at Thomas Cooper’s Circulation Desk that our Reserve books are extremely popular!Underground stacks at New College Library

Though I could have stayed in New College’s underground stacks for hours, we sadly had to move on. The girls, plus Paul and I treated ourselves for lunch! We decided to visit the Elephant House, which is a Tea and Coffee shop in downtown Edinburgh. BUT, this is not just any coffee shop… the Elephant House is where J.K. Rowling herself wrote much of the early Harry Potter books! I tried to contain my excitement when I saw that they have a signed 1st edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – I’d happily empty my bank account to have one of those. The shop is very charming and also quite busy, but our lunch was enjoyable. I can see why she picked such a spot to write!

The Elephant House

 

 

 

 

 

Part 2: Central Library 

After our lunch stop, it was time for tour #2 of the day, which took place at the Central Library. This library is a beautiful building, with the slogan “Let there be Light” over the entrance, and so I was not at all surprised to learn that it is in fact Carnegie Library, which opened in 1890. Our class was split up into several tour groups, and my group visited the Children’s Library first, which was actually not part of the original Carnegie building. The Children’s Library is also currently

Children's Library - Central Library

Children’s Library – Central Library

hosting a Summer Reading Challenge program, just like the Barbican Library and also my beloved Richland Library back home. I have to say that the library appears to be an awesome place for kids – it’s cozy, but also has room for movement, and just overall seems to be a fun and creative space.

In addition to the separate Children’s Library and the typical Lending Library that any public library has, Central also has an Art Library, a Music Library, Reference Library, and a special Edinburgh and Scottish Collection. We visited the Art Library as well as the Reference Library, which is in an impressively huge and stately room. There were plenty of people in the Reference Library, which is always nice to see as someone who works at a Reference Desk.

Reference Library - Central Library

Reference Library – Central Library

After the tours were complete, we had a talk from Jim Thompson, the Development and Quality Manager, where we learned some interesting facts about the library. Apparently it uses the Library of Congress classification system, and is the only public library in Britain to do so. The Central Library also has approximately 500,000 visitors/year, which is an excellent number! The library system has 30 (yes, 30!) branch libraries, and over 70 book groups! (My jaw dropped at those numbers). A library app (the 1st of its kind in the UK) can be traced back to the Central Library, and so it was no surprise to hear that the library has been given the “Gold Standard” in their library accreditation process.

I will admit that I tend to sometimes think that all public libraries are basically the same, and likewise for all academic libraries -but the offerings and facilities of the Central Library certainly proved me wrong! I was blown away by the library, and grateful we had the opportunity to tour such a public library with such high-standards.

Part 3: Arthur’s Seat

Now, here is where I come to what you have all undoubtedly been waiting for ….. our hike up Arthur’s Seat! The elevation of the hill is 823 feet, and though it is often attributed to the legends of King Arthur himself, it was actually formed by a now extinct volcanic system. There are several paths that lead you to the top of the hill, and we (of course) picked the “short but steep” route. Dr. Griffis accompanied the girls and I on this adventure, and it took only about 45 minutes to hike to the top – but I should probably mention that the path we walked was virtually Hiking up Arthur's Seat!straight uphill! Though I haven’t mentioned it for a few days, I’m still sick, and I was fairly certain that my lungs were going to burst while climbing this hill. (Note to self: Do NOT go hiking when you have a respiratory infection! Also, TOMS are probably not the wisest choice of foot-wear…) We stopped several times to catch our breath and take pictures – the scenery all along the hike was breathtaking, and the higher you climbed, the better views of the city you were rewarded with. Just when I wasn’t sure I could go any further, I made it to the top!! I had to pause and walk away from the others just to catch my breath, both in the literal sense, but also because the 360 degree panoramic view was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Scotland is truly the most amazing place I have ever seen, and I was brought to tears at the top of Arthur’s Seat.

View of Edinburgh from the peak of Arthur's Seat

View of Edinburgh from the peak of Arthur’s Seat

The hike was definitely one of the most challenging things I have probably ever done, and though I may have pushed my body to its limits, I am so proud of all of us for making that hike. We enjoyed absorbing in the views while snapping a ton of pictures, and Dr. Griffis was kind enough to take a photo of the four of us:

The girls and I at the top of Arthur's Seat!

From L to R:
Jade, me, Laura Douglass, and Jessica

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the hike down, which was unexpectedly scarier and more treacherous than the hike up, the girls and I headed back into town and grabbed dinner at the Pizza Express. Though the name may sound like it’s a typical Pizza Hut or Papa John’s type of place, this was actually a nice restaurant, and we deserved those pizza calories after our hill-climbing extravaganza!

All I can say is that I know I will sleep soundly tonight!

Goodnight everyone,

Taylor

National Library and National Archives

Part 1: The National Library of Scotland

Now, normally, I am not at all excited about Mondays – but I’m in beautiful SCOTLAND, so that’s something to be excited about! I’m also pumped about my free and delicious breakfast I had this morning  – complete with scrambled eggs, bacon, a croissant loaded with Nutella, and some fruit… yummy.

Today we made two class trips – first to the National Library of Scotland (NLS) in the morning, and then to the National Archives of Scotland (NAS) after lunch. The two buildings are only blocks away from each other, and are located right off the Royal Mile, which is composed of the main streets of Edinburgh, and is the major shopping and restaurant district. Traveling from our dorms at the University of Edinburgh is easy. Though there’s no tube, Edinburgh uses a bus system that is similar to London’s, with one slight difference – our daily bus pass tickets are scratch-off, like a lottery ticket! Ha.

Shops along the Royal Mile

Shops along the Royal Mile

We were not allowed to take pictures in the NLS, but I’ll have other pictures to show you later. The NLS is actually spread among several buildings throughout Scotland, but we were in the primary one, which is in fact 15 stories high! It’s the largest library in Scotland, and the place to go if you want to research Scottish history and culture. Similarly to the British Library, the NLS is also a legal deposits library, which if you don’t remember, means they are able to have any book published in the UK if they desire. However, the difference is that the NLS must actually claim these published materials directly from the publisher, and so they do not own every book (unlike the British Library, to whom publishers automatically send books).

As opposed to venturing into the stacks and touring the facilities like we’ve done with other libraries, we instead focused on the John Murray Archive and exhibit. This particular archive is composed of materials from the John Murray Publishing House, which was founded in 1768. The website says it best:

“The archive contains manuscripts, private letters and business papers from authors who shaped the modern world through their writings on: Publishing, politics and society, literature, travel and exploration, and science.”

There are many famous people whose works and personal items appear in the archive, including David Livingstone, Charles Darwin, Arthur Conan Doyle, Lord Byron, and Jane Austen. The archive is currently composed of 1 million items, crosses every genre, and includes materials in a variety of formats. The exhibit itself is unique and interactive; the exhibit room is quite dark, with custom lighting – displays are only lit when someone approaches the item. Diminished lighting of course helps to preserve these items on display. After all, the primary goal of the archive is to preserve these treasures for future generations, and thus focus on conservation and preservation. Hearing about the “best practices” policies of such prominent archives, libraries, and museums will never get old to me, and I love absorbing the information about budgets, strategic plans, collection development and acquisitions policies, digitization plans, and all other management and administrative issues. I think my 704 class (Management of Libraries) has really rubbed off on me for the better!

Part 2: The National Archives 

After a lunch break, we walked down the National Archives, which is the Scottish government’s official archive, and is also known as the National Records of Scotland. Initially established in 1774, the archives merged with the General Register Office for Scotland back in

National Archives of Scotland

National Archives of Scotland

2011. The General Register Office for Scotland contains numerous materials, including demographic statistics and censuses (records of births/marriages/deaths), deeds for estates and land, business records, and numerous resources and databases pertaining to Scottish genealogy. The archive contains additional items from the 12th-21st centuries, including old parish registers, wills and testaments, taxations records, maps and plans, church records, state and parliamentary papers, government records, court/legal documents, family papers, photographs, etc. Currently, the archive is in possession of 78 km worth of historical records, and they are adding approximately 1 km/year. An interesting note: unlike most libraries/archives/museums, this archive has the power to weed and devaluate records, which is a tricky practice, and according to our guide, has “resulted in poor decision making in the past.” I’m not sure that I would ever feel comfortable simply throwing away or destroying documents – the exception being if there were duplicates. Too much responsibility!

Many of these records are housed in a classically simple, yet elegant room (seen above) with an impressive domed ceiling. Fun Fact: the head of the archives is known as the “Keeper of the Records of Scotland.” It’s such a legit title – I love it! Can you imagine that being on your business card? No big deal…

We were shown some interesting items from the collection, and our guide was kind enough to pull some letters, maps, and press clippings relating to America – including a map of the Charleston Harbor, along with a letter criticizing the British disposition towards South Carolina’s slavery legislation! I think sometimes it’s so easy for us to be consumed in our little bubbles, that we forget how history almost always reveals to have an impact on a grand scale…. who would think that documents relating to good ol’ South Carolina would be found in the National Archives of Scotland of all places?

Once we finished up at the NAS, we were free to explore Edinburgh. A group of us walked up and down the Royal Mile, which

Tea at Mimi's Bakehouse

Tea at Mimi’s Bakehouse

links the Edinburgh Castle and the Holyrood Palace. I’d love to visit both places and hope to have a chance to before we leave on Thursday! We went into several stores, and then Jessica, Jade, and I popped into a charming little place called Mimi’s Bakehouse for some afternoon tea and treats. After we’d explored the Royal Mile, we headed back towards the dorms, but stopped to order Chinese take-away. Though it was pretty chilly and windy, we sat outside the dorms to eat – I just love how clean the air is here!

Remember how I mentioned before that the campus is at the base of Arthur’s Seat? Well, Arthur’s Seat can be seen here in the background…

Arthur's Seat

Arthur’s Seat

It’s a little intimidating to say the least, but we are planning on conquering this gigantic hill tomorrow after class!

 

 

 

And on that note, I think it’s time to get some sleep, so I’m well rested before attempting the impossible tomorrow!

Miss you all,

Taylor

Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

Kew Royal Botanic Gardens was the destination of our class trip today, on this rainy Friday morning.

The site dates back to 1759, when the land was privately owned and used by various members of the Royal Family, and in 1840, the gardens became a national botanic garden. The library opened in 1850, and today has over 300,000 books, 7,000 periodicals, and over 2,000 illustrations and prints. The archive contains over 7 million sheets of paper, mostly pertaining to botany and the origins of Kew, and the herbarium houses 7 – 8 million specimens at any given time, adding approximately 30,000 new species per year.

One of the questions someone in the class almost always inevitably asks is “What is the oldest item in your collection?” (because who doesn’t want to know that fun fact?) It turns out, the oldest item in Kew’s collection dates

My favorite print of the day at Kew Gardens

My favorite print of the day

back to 1370, is written in Latin, and discusses the uses of plants for medicinal purposes. Many books in the collection today are still used for scientific purposes, and the various illustrations/prints we were shown were so vividly eye-catching and masterfully done. Illustrations were particularly important in the botany world, for numerous reasons, one of which was to allow the general public (who were often illiterate) the chance to learn about these plants.

Beatrix Potter, beloved children’s author and creator of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was also an amateur scientist who visited Kew. She primarily studied fungi reproduction, but was disregarded by the men of Kew as being merely an amateur and a woman. Typical! There is some speculation that perhaps she would have left some of her collections at Kew if the “powers that be,” aka the men in charge, had been a bit nicer to her.

Our class was then treated to a lecture by Andrew Wiltshire, who is a member of the Beatrix Potter Society, and whose family has an interesting connection to Beatrix Potter. During her life, Beatrix kept a diary, which was written in a code that she herself created; in the late 1950’s, the diary’s code was finally cracked by a man named Leslie Linder, who Andrew Wiltshire knew. Mr. Wiltshire was very dapper and charming, and I think we all enjoyed hearing about his various familial connections to Leslie Linder and Beatrix Potter.

Once the lecture ended, we all had a chance to explore the vast gardens for ourselves.

Kew Gardens

The girls and I toured Kew Palace, one of

Kew Palace

Kew Palace

the Historic Royal Palaces. The current palace, the third one on site, was partially designed by King George III, and has undergone extensive renovations in recent years. Both the palace and the grounds are quite majestic – there is so much green everywhere you look and an abundance of flowers. I’m so thankful we’re here during the summer when the weather is nice, and flowers are actually blooming! The gardens are full of various attractions, including the Palm House, which is a greenhouse full of exotic plants from around the world. There is also the Great Pagoda, which was built in 1762, and stands an impressive 10 stories high. However, I think my favorite activity of the day was the Treetop Walkway, which is approximately 60 feet off the ground and takes one up into the canopy of a wooded area in the gardens. The views were spectacular, and I loved being amongst the trees.

Up in the Treetop Walkway!

Up in the Treetop Walkway!

 

I could have spent many hours wandering amongst the gardens… We even saw a fox at one point! And Laura Douglass and I discovered the oldest tree in the gardens. After many hours of exploring, we finally decided it was time to head back to The oldest tree in Kew GardensLondon because we need to begin brainstorming topic ideas for our research papers. We also have to start thinking about our trip to Scotland, which we leave for in just 2 days! Packing will be tricky because not only will I be going to Scotland for 4 days, but then Jessica, Laura Douglass, and I will then leave Edinburgh and fly straight to Dublin, where we’ll spend 2 days + take a 3 day tour of Northern Ireland! So I need to pack 9 day’s worth of clothes and toiletries into a carry-on bag. This might prove to be a breeze for some people, but for over packers like me, I know it’ll be a challenge!

Wish me luck,

Taylor