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

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General Admission
Adults £7
Seniors (65+) £6
Student £6
Children (5-16) £4
Children (under 5) Free
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Tickets are valid for one year, and include a free audio guide. Please note, these prices will be subject to review in 2021.
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