New Room, Bristol

The New Room is a historic building in Broadmead, Bristol, England.

New Room
Statue of John Wesley with the New Room behind.
Location within Bristol
General information
LocationBristol, England, United Kingdom
Coordinates51.4572°N 2.5886°W / 51.4572; -2.5886

It was built in 1739 by John Wesley and is the oldest Methodist chapel in the world.[1] Above the chapel are the rooms in which Wesley and other preachers stayed. The chapel includes a double decker pulpit, which was common at the time, and an octagonal lantern window to reduce the amount paid in Window tax. In addition to meetings and worship, the New Room was used as a dispensary and schoolroom for the poor people of the area.[2] The pews and benches were made from old ship timber.[3] The Baldwin and Nicholas Street Methodist groups combined to form the United Society, which met at the New Room from 3 June 1739.[4] Wesley insisted that meetings at the New Room should only be held outside of Anglican church hours as he wanted Methodism to complement rather than compete with Anglican worship.[4]

The courtyards around the building contain statues of John Wesley[5] and his brother Charles.[6]

In 1748 it was extended, possibly by the Quaker George Tully because of the stylistic similarities with the Friends' Meeting House at Quakers Friars of the same period.[7] Wesley believed that liturgical worship should be carried out in churches, and only reluctantly allowed the enlarged New Room to comply with the Toleration Act of 1689 making it a formal place of worship.[4] John Wesley lived at the New Room from 1748 to 1771 and administered sacrament there when his brother Charles Wesley was away.[4] Wesley added to the Methodist offer in Bristol by selling his published works from a bookstore in the New Room. Analysis of the complete printed output of Bristol between 1695 and 1775 shows that over half was written by Methodists.[4] After Wesley's death the property passed into the hands of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists. In 1929 it was given back to the Methodist Church.

The John Snetzler Chamber Organ of 1761 is a 20th-century addition following the restoration of the building in 1929 by Sir George Oatley.

It has been designated by Historic England as a grade I listed building,[8] and is the only piece of land in Broadmead for which the freehold has not been bought by Bristol City Council during expansion after World War II.

A garden in the Broadmead Courtyard was opened on 24 May 2011 by the Lord Mayor of Bristol. This was followed by the opening of the Horsefair Visitor Centre on 13 July 2017 by the Duke of Gloucester. The new facilities include a cafe, library and archive and conference and education facilities plus an expanded museum in the preachers' rooms above the chapel.

See also


  1. "New Rooms website, History page". Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  2. "Wesley's gateway to the West". Methodist Heritage. Archived from the original on 13 March 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2007.
  3. "The New Room". BBC Bristol. Retrieved 31 March 2007.
  4. K Morgan, John Wesley and Bristol, University of Bristol (Bristol branch of the Historical Association), 1990
  5. "Statue of John Wesley in courtyard in front of The New Room". Retrieved 31 March 2007.
  6. "Statue of Charles Wesley in courtyard to rear of The New Room". Retrieved 31 March 2007.
  7. "Wesley's New Room". Looking at Buildings from the Pevsner Architectural Guides. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 31 March 2007.
  8. "The New Room". Retrieved 16 March 2007.
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