The team at the New Room, otherwise known as John Wesley’s Chapel, is trailblazing yet again with the unveiling of plans for a brand new stained glass window, commissioned for their Heritage Lottery-funded visitor centre which opened in the summer of 2017.
Destined to be inset over the entrance door leading from The Horsefair into the new visitor centre, the window will take the form of a triptych – a three-panel work of art – which will illustrate Wesley’s remarkable life.
The man responsible for the design of the window is Devizes-based glass artist Andrew Taylor, a Fellow of the British Society of Master Glass Painters, who has been working with stained glass for 25 years and has been responsible for the design and installation of over 60 new church windows.
Methodist historian Gary Best, volunteer warden of the New Room, said: “Stained glass is an art form usually associated with churches but today 90 per cent of commissions are undertaken for public buildings. Styles change but this vibrant and dynamic art form is still able to tell a story in a uniquely beautiful way through its use of colour and light.
“We have an important story to tell and our new window will provide not just a beautiful and eye-catching focus for the atrium of our new visitor centre but a vivid way of showing why the story of John and Charles Wesley is still so important today.”
Andrew Taylor said: “It feels a privilege to be invited to design and make this window for the modern extension at the New Room.
“Having had a Jesuit education, I knew little about John Wesley and his teachings so I’ve enjoyed doing research for the project and learning more on his life and work.
“My aim is to make a vibrant and colourful background of painted glass with of references to John Wesley’s life and history, into which cameo scenes and symbolic images are laid out as if on a screen or map.
“There would be considerable working of ‘glass paint’ fired onto the surface of the glass to help create the imagery and imbue a feeling of energy. I hope this will fit the spirit and energy I sense behind John Wesley’s life and work.
“When the cutting and painting is at a more advanced stage we plan to open the studio to for a couple of days’ viewing and organise a visit for schoolchildren and other interested parties.”
Known as ‘the cradle of Methodism,’ the Grade I listed New Room is the oldest Methodist building in the world, dating from 1739, and was the starting point for the Methodist Church which now has over 75 million members across the globe.
The visitor centre features a state-of-the-art museum, a brand new library and archives store, a café selling Fairtrade coffee and home-baked cakes and savouries, a gift shop and an education/conference centre, and is open Monday to Saturday 10.30am to 4pm all year round.