Portrait of the Holy Club

Five Facts about the Portrait of the Holy Club

1) The Holy Club took part in social work, visiting inmates in Oxford prison.

2)The term ‘Methodist’ as well as ‘Holy Club’ was also used as an insult, criticising the methodical ways in which John Wesley and his contemporaries approached spiritual disciplines.

3) John Wesley started as an undergraduate at Christ Church College in June 1720.

4) He graduated in 1724.

5) John Wesley was elected a Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford in March 1726

Portrait of the Holy Club

The Holy Club was the insulting nickname given to a group of Oxford University students who regularly met together to study the Bible and pray. John and Charles Wesley were part of that group who were seeking spiritual encouragement. This coloured lithograph depicts John Wesley gathering with the Holy Club in Oxford. The original painting from 1861 is attributed to Marshall Claxton and is entitled, ‘The Institution of Methodism’. This gathering and spiritual discipline was an early indication of what was to follow in these young men’s lives ahead of John Wesley arriving in Bristol to preach in the open air in 1739.

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