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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Barbican Library and St. Paul’s Cathedral

Part 1: Barbican Library

Hey everyone!

Today we visited two very different libraries in London – the Barbican Library and the library at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

I’ll start off with the Barbican… It’s much like a typical public library, and actually reminded me of my beloved Richland Library

The courtyard at the Barbican Centre

The courtyard at the Barbican Centre

system (my local library I grew up with, where I’m fortunate enough to be a Graduate Assistant in Grad School). It is one of five libraries in the City of London (there are 3 lending libraries and 2 references ones – the Barbican is considered the leading lending library). However, the Barbican library is part of the larger Barbican Centre, which is essentially a performing arts centre and venue for multiple factions of the arts – music, dance, art, etc.

We visited several parts of the Barbican Library, including their Children’s Library and Music Library. The Children’s Library, a space specifically for 0 – 14 year olds, had many notable similarities to the Richland Library, the most notable of which was their current Summer Reading Challenge. With the “Mythical Maze” theme, children can earn prizes and certificates for reading. In 2013, approximately 400 kids took part in this Challenge, with 200 completing it. Children are allowed to checkout up to 12 items for free (Note: The idea of charging patrons for materials has been a new concept for me to grasp, as it was evident in both the Barbican Library and the Carnegie Library in Stratford-upon-Avon). The library also hosts a variety of programming events, which made me super excited, as I work for the Programs and Partnerships Department at the Richland Library. Again, the similarities are abundant – both libraries promote graphic novels for teens, host class visits and storytimes, and provide a reading mentoring program for young readers.

The Music Library was a neat addition to the library’s offerings. The Barbican Centre is home to the London Symphony Orchestra, so it is only natural for the library at the Barbican to host a specialized music library, which opened in 1983. In fact, the Barbican and Westminster Abbey have the two largest music collections in London – the Barbican boasts 9,000 books, 16,000 CD’s, and 16,000 scores. As a music buff, I was quite impressed with this library!

Part 2: St. Paul’s Cathedral and an ER Visit

Unfortunately, I kept feeling more and more ill as the day progressed, and now have fluid in my left ear, which is quite uncomfortable. At the urging of my professors, I decided it was best for me to see a doctor…. BUT I was not about to miss the tour of St. Paul’s library

St. Paul’s Cathedral is of course one of the most prominent (and beautiful!) buildings in London. The current church was designed by famed architect Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London, in which the library’s original collections were essentially destroyed. The current librarian, a wonderful man named Joseph Wisdom (yes, that truly is his last name), explained to us about

the library’s present collections, which naturally include such specialities such as theology and church history. Mr. Wisdom also taught us future librarians a critical skill – the proper way to remove books from a shelf. Curious? Ask me for a demonstration sometime!

At any rate, this Religious Studies nerd was absolutely thrilled to visit this librarian, which is upstairs in the Cathedral, far from the public view. My dream job would be to work in a place like St. Paul’s…. a girl can dream, right?

Once our tour of St. Paul’s was over, Jade graciously accompanied me to the Emergency Room at St. Thomas’ Hospital. Fortunately the hospital is right at the Westminster Bridge, and so is only a short walk from our dorms. I was a bit nervous and had no idea what to expect, but my experience there could not have been more positive! After a brief wait, I was triaged in the ER by an awesome and funny nurse, who promptly sent me to the Critical Care Unit to be seen by a doctor. The doctor (who apparently has vacationed in Hilton Head and loved it! Way to go, South Carolina), determined that I initially had a virus of some sort which transitioned into a nasty bacterial chest infection. He wrote me a prescription for a heavy-duty antibiotic which I filled at the In-House Pharmacy, and I was on my way! In short, Jade and I were there for about 3 hours. I paid 8 pounds for my medicine and that was IT. I never had to fill out paperwork, and never even had to show an ID. I cannot praise my experience enough… I’m looking at you, U.S. healthcare system. Granted, this is a sensitive subject for me as I turn 26 in a few short months and will be ceremoniously dropped from my stepdad’s health insurance, which is terrifying!

Tomorrow we’re taking a trip to Greenwich, and I’m hoping a good nights sleep and dose of medicine will do the trick.

Until next time,

Taylor