The New Room (John Wesley's Chapel)
George Whitefield invited John Wesley to preach outdoors for the first time to the miners of Bristol. The New Room was built in 1739 by John Wesley as a meeting place for two of the resulting groups or 'societies' of worshippers and was the first Methodist building in the world.
It was enlarged in 1748 to its current proportions. The New Room also provided accommodation for John Wesley and later other visiting preachers whenever they visited Bristol on their travels.
Being well placed in the heart of the city, the New Room became a centre for the Wesleys' work in Bristol, where those in need could receive help and education. It was also the first 'society' to use John Wesley's 'class' system, where members were divided into sub-groups for mutual spiritual support and development.
Today, the chapel is in regular use for worship as well as being used for cultural activities and exhibitions. The interior is still decorated in the style of the eighteenth century, with many original objects and furnishings from Wesley's day. Upstairs, visitors may explore the preachers' quarters, where the room displays show the work of Wesley and Francis Asbury, who sailed from nearby Pill (see page 58), to lead the Methodist Church in America.
A new garden was opened in the Broadmead Courtyard in 2011: a 'green oasis' in the heart of the city for all to enjoy. The layout is influenced by mid-eighteenth century design and the themes within it reflect John Wesley's interest in health and well-being.
The statue of John on horseback in the centre of the courtyard has been complemented by stonework around the plinth on which four of Wesley's most famous quotations have been engraved. There is also a simple herb garden in front of the statue to reflect his interest in their use for medicinal purposes. The courtryard garden now offers a place for thought and reflection.
Additional visitor information
Download a guide to Methodist Heritage Sites in Bristol (Pdf)
The New Room
Getting there [ST590734]