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

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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Is the weekend already over?

 

Jade and I

Jade and I in front of John Wesley’s statue

I woke up this morning with my feet a little sore, and unable to believe it’s already Day 3 of our adventure! Though I am all for the idea that Sunday is a day of rest, Jade and I joined a group of a few other students to attend a service at Wesley’s Chapel. She and I are both United Methodists, and Wesley’s Chapel of course is attributed to John Wesley, who was the primary founder of Methodism. The chapel was built in 1778, and is a classic example of Georgian architecture with its breathtaking stain glass windows and marble columns. Fortunately for us, the service itself was as lovely as the building. A large choir visiting from Wisconsin on their European tour sang several classic anthems. The two preachers leading the service were both women (yay for Methodists!) and both the prayers and sermon were fantastic. Of course, I think anything spoken with a British accent sounds fantastic, but that’s neither here nor there…

Here’s your Fun Fact of the day: Did you know that the flush toilet was popularized by a man named Thomas Crapper? Yes, friends, I am telling the truth. This was complete news to me until today, where we learned that underneath the chapel is an original Victorian era bathroom (circa 1899) that is actually gorgeous! However, above all of the toilets is a stamp that says “Thomas Crapper & Co.” Who knows, maybe this will be a Jeopardy! question someday. If you win, make sure to split the prize winnings with yours truly!

After the service and a look at the Chapel’s Museum, Jade and I grabbed some lunch at EAT, and made our way back to the dorms. Our mission for the afternoon? Buy a UK cell phone! This proved to be a bit more challenging than originally expected, but helped us to fulfill our 10,000+ steps/day goal! After being sent to 3(!) Carphone Warehouse stores (don’t let the name fool you – these phones are not meant for your car), we can FINALLY all proudly say that we own European cell phones. Though I am a little peeved, and you should be too… American phone companies = a giant rip-off! For 20 pounds (roughly $35), we each had a phone, a SIM card, and 20 pounds of credit for calls/texts since we opted for the “pay as you go” plan. Sigh.

After our phone success, we decided to continue shopping, since both Jade and Jessica needed new bags. After stopping at various places, we ended up at Primark, which was probably the most crowded and chaotic store I’ve ever been in. All I kept thinking when we were walking around was “HOW do people work here?!” Anyone who has ever worked in retail (myself included) and thought they had it bad should go to a Primark on a Sunday afternoon. Whew…

Soon enough it was dinner time and after a few tube rides and some clever re-routing on our part due to ongoing construction, we made it back to Waterloo, which is our neighborhood tube station. We stopped at the M&S to buy groceries, but ended up eating out at Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which had tasty burgers and fries and served Coke in glass bottles. My favorite!

We have to rise and shine bright and early in the morning as we’re leaving at 7 am to travel to Oxford and the Bodleian Library for our first official class. This is one of the sites I’m most looking forward to visiting, so I’ll be sure to post an update for you tomorrow!

Hope everyone is doing well,

Taylor

Wesley's Chapel

Statue of John Wesley with Wesley’s Chapel in the background

 

Wesley's gravestone

The site of John Wesley’s burial.

 

Stain glass windows

Windows inside the Chapel. No picture could do them justice.