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New Room, Bristol facts for kids

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New Room
20050318 021 bristol wesley.jpg
Statue of John Wesley with the New Room behind.
General information
Location Bristol, England, United Kingdom
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Completed 1739

The New Room is a historic building in Broadmead, Bristol, England.

It was built in 1739 by John Wesley and is the oldest Methodist chapel in the world. Above the chapel are the rooms in which Wesley and other preachers stayed. The chapel includes a double decker pulpit, which was common at the time, and an octagonal lantern window to reduce the amount paid in Window tax. In addition to meetings and worship, the New Room was used as a dispensary and schoolroom for the poor people of the area. The pews and benches were made from old ship timber. The Baldwin and Nicholas Street Methodist groups combined to form the United Society, which met at the New Room from 3 June 1739. Wesley insisted that meetings at the New Room should only be held outside of Anglican church hours as he wanted Methodism to complement rather than compete with Anglican worship.

New Room
New Room interior

The courtyards around the building contain statues of John Wesley and his brother Charles.

In 1748 it was extended, possibly by the Quaker George Tully because of the stylistic similarities with the Friends' Meeting House at Quakers Friars of the same period. Wesley believed that liturgical worship should be carried out in churches, and only reluctantly allowed the englarged New Room to comply with the Toleration Act of 1689 making it a formal place of worship. John Wesley lived at the New Room from 1748 to 1771 and administered sacrament there when his brother Charles Wesley was away. Wesley added to the Methodist offer in Bristol by selling his published works from a bookstore in the New Room. Analysis of the complete printed output of Bristol between 1695 and 1775 shows that over half was written by Methodists. After Wesley's death the property passed into the hands of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists. In 1909 it was given back to the Methodist Church.

The John Snetzler Chamber Organ of 1761 is a 20th-century addition following the restoration of the building in 1929 by Sir George Oatley.

It has been designated by Historic England as a grade I listed building, and is the only piece of land in Broadmead for which the freehold has not been bought by Bristol City Council during expansion after World War II. A garden in the Broadmead Courtyard was opened on 24 May 2011, and in April 2015 planning permission was granted (subject to conditions) for new building to house a library, an archive, and education and administrative facilities within the courtyard.

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