The Reverend Samuel Wesley became Anglican rector of Epworth in 1695, and also nearby of Wroot in 1722. Here his wife, Susanna, bore him at least 19 children, although only seven daughters and three sons - Samuel Jr, John and Charles - survived to adulthood. Susanna educated all her children diligently and instilled in them the methodical approach that would later characterise her sons' approach to religion.
The town of Epworth is located on the 'Isle of Axholme': higher ground in a landscape of canals and dykes. This, originally Dutch, engineering is reflected in the styling of the town's post-office building. Today's elegant Queen Anne rectory, with its 'glebe' and set in pretty gardens, was built in 1709 to replace the family's original house, which was destroyed by fire. John Wesley, aged only 6, had to be dramatically rescued: 'a brand plucked from the burning'. The family continued to live here until Samuel Wesley Snr died in 1735.
When John, by then an itinerant preacher, returned in 1742, he found a 'religious society' already established. He was to return to preach in Epworth every other year until 1790 - staying at the Red Lion Inn and preaching from the Market Cross.
The Rectory was purchased by the British Methodist Church with assistance from Methodist Churches around the world in 1954. It was restored and opened to the public in 1957. A major redevelopment project is planned to restore the house to how it looked in 1716 and provide improved visitor facilities.
The 'John Wesley Physic Garden', a walled garden featuring plants from John Wesley's book 'Primitive Physic: an Easy and Natural Method of Curing Most Diseases' , was opened in 2006.
Admission House and garden: Adult £6.60 (inc Gift Aid); Groups of more than 10 £5.50 per person (Inc Gift Aid); Student £4.00; Child £3.00;
Coach parties please book in advance. Group visits, retreats and quiet days available, by pre-arrangement. Access to library for research by arrangement. Candlelit Tours: Offered in the autumn and spring, these atmospheric tours give an idea of how the Rectory was in the Wesleys' day. Please phone for more details. Download further information on Group Visits (Pdf)
Additional visitor information
Toilets including a disabled toilet
Full disabled access to the garden, however in
the house only the ground floor is accessible
Catering is available if booked in advance (morning coffee, light lunches, afternoon teas).
Area with picnic tables
Gift shop stocking a range of memorabilia and books
The Wesley Walk A guided tour of Epworth can be organized by contacting the Epworth Old Rectory team
Also nearby Within 5 miles around Epworth are several villages where John Wesley preached and feature in his journal: Owston Ferry, Haxey and Wroot where John Wesley was curate. Gainsborough Old Hall - Wesley preached here too; 12 miles from Epworth.
1 Rectory Street
Epworth, near Doncaster
South Yorkshire DN9 1HX
Getting there [SE787035] Car: 10 miles from Scunthorpe and 20 miles from Doncaster along the A161, 3 miles south of M180 junction 2. Travelling south on A161, turn left at crossroads with traffic lights into town, drive straight through, follow the road up hill and round left-hand bend. The Rectory is at the top on the left. Train: Nearest stations are Scunthorpe (10 miles), Gainsborough (12 miles) and Crowle (7 miles). Alternatively Doncaster Station has frequent services from all major cities: taxi then takes 30mins. Bus: Services 291 and 399 run on a two-hourly service from Doncaster Interchange and stop outside the Old Rectory. Also a more frequent service to Scunthorpe.