Room for all people
Explore John Wesley's thoughts on those in need
Life for the poor in Georgian Bristol in the early eighteenth century was pretty grim. One of the birthplaces of industry, working-class people largely worked to satisfy the country’s growing desire for consumer goods. Plagued by poor wages, ill health, and harsh working conditions, many found comfort in the short-lived satisfaction of alehouses and brothels or ended up in Newgate prison through debts or petty crime.
John Wesley was moved by the experiences of working people, particularly through his open-air preaching amongst the miners in Kingswood. Amidst their hopelessness he sought to share the love of God. Wesley believed that poor relief should stand on principles of justice, mercy and truth. He declared it morally wrong that some were living in excess when others lacked basic necessities.
It was here at his ‘new room’ that John Wesley’s ministry flourished. He encouraged his followers to live simply so they could help the poor and needy. It was the location of one of Bristol’s first medical dispensaries and gave out food to the vulnerable. It was also a place of teaching as Wesley knew that a way out of poverty was through education.
The benefits of Wesley’s ministry were widespread as the New Room’s membership grew. Communities were built, families were fed, children were given an education, and people learnt ways to manage their health at home without the need for expensive doctors. God’s love for people regardless of their circumstances or merit was foundational to life at the New Room.
It is difficult to underestimate the impact of God’s work through John Wesley and Methodism’s early beginnings in Bristol. Wesley’s gospel preaching combined with his heart for social action still leave a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of millions of people who engage with Methodist chapels, schools, and community centres worldwide
"Not just informative but engaging and thought-provoking" - Museum visitor
Highlights from the Collection
This wall clock was presented to the Strangers’ Friend Society in 1825 by Robert Williams, William Thomas and Edward Brice
A perfect reminder of Wesley’s intention in helping bring families out of poverty through education
This medical handbook allowed the masses to treat themselves at home in very practical, affordable ways.
Seniors (65+) £6
Children (5-16) £4
Children (under 5) Free
Carer of disabled visitor Free
1 adult and up to 3 children £10
2 adults and up to 3 children £15
Additional children - £2 per child
Tickets are valid for one year, and include a free audio guide. Please note, these prices will be subject to review in 2021.
Monday - Saturday, 11am - 3pm
Monday - Saturday, 10am - 4pm
Rapture and Reason Project at the John Rylands Library
The John Rylands Library in Manchester have well-established connections with John Wesley’s New Room Library. Many duplicate first editions are deposited in Bristol directly from Manchester. One of their most fascinating projects is the Rapture and Reason project. This digitalised collection gives an account of evangelical conversions during the 18th century Evangelical Revival. These eye-witness accounts give an insight into the dynamic and disturbing spirituality that fuelled the popularity in religion at that time.Read more from Manchester University
The Methodist Centre, Bristol
The Methodist Centre in Bristol serves meals, supports individual needs, and is a place where everyone regardless of their faith or belief can find respect, encouragement and a warm welcome. The Centre helps its guests to take important steps which enable them to progress, whether that be signposting, organising housing support, benefit advice, help with paperwork, assisting them into entering rehab or other services. They are there to help with both emotional and physical wellbeingVisit their site
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