Explore the Collection

Our collections comprise over 15,000 objects and include ceramics, paintings, books and works on paper, silverware, furniture and costume, and many others. The museum was established in 1898 but a number of key items in our collection pre-date this and have been on display inside John Wesley’s House ever since Wesley’s death in 1791.

Scroll to see examples of objects you can see during your visit.

  • Reverend Samuel Bradburn
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    Oil on canvas
    Unknown painter, early 19th century

    Samuel Bradburn (1751–1816), was a Methodist preacher, an associate of John Wesley, and a follower of John Fletcher of Madeley. According to those who heard him preach, he was an extraordinary orator, perhaps one of the greatest preachers of his day. He became President of the Methodist Conference in 1799.

    1993/1628
  • Rev. Charles Atmore
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    Oil on canvas
    By unknown artist, early 19th century

    Charles Atmore (1759 - 1826) was born in Heacham in Norfolk. He was an itinerant preacher and was ordained in 1781, opening the first Methodist preaching house in Glasgow. Atmore became a close friend of John Wesley and was included in the 'Legal Hundred'. This was a group of one hundred of Wesley's most able leaders, chosen by Wesley and appointed by him as the policy making body of the Methodist Church following his death.
    (1997/6632)
  • Holy Family
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    Oil on board
    By unknown artist, Probably 19th century

    The exact date of this oil on wood panel painting is unknown but it has been painted in a 17th century style.
    1993/1487
  • Adam Clarke and two former Buddhists
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    Oil on canvas
    Painted by Alexander Mosses, 1820

    Adam Clarke (1760 - 1832) is depicted in his library with two former Buddhist monks.

    Arriving in England in May 1818, the two monks were met by Rev. Dr. Adam Clarke (1762-1832), an Irish Methodist and well known scholar on the New Testament. Clarke looked after the monks. In 1820, he wrote: ‘did so; and in doing it encountered many difficulties, which, because the good hand of my God was upon me, I surmounted; and, after twenty months instruction under my own roof, I was fully convinced that they were sincere converts to the Christian religion, and that their minds were under a very gracious influence. At their own earnest desire I admitted them into the church of Christ by baptism’.

    Later in life, Adam Clarke would become a notable collector of Arabic, Persian and Syriac Manuscripts and he was the composer of the epitaph on John Wesley's tomb.

    1992/496
  • Clothing and spurs worn by John Wesley
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    Textile, leather and metal
    late 18th century

    A few items of clothing belonging to John Wesley are preserved and on display in John Wesley’s House.
  • 'Deborah', Judges, Verse 3
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    Oil on canvas
    Henry le Jeune A.R.A. (1819-1904), mid 19th century

    Deborah is the most celebrated female prophet of the Old Testament.

    Henry le Jeune was an English painter who produced landscape, literary, genre and religious paintings. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy (A.R.A.) in 1863.
    (1997/6660)
  • John Wesley standing in a graveyard
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    Oil on canvas
    c.1783

    An unusual portrait, possible painted by the Rev. Thomas Olave, vicar of Mucking Church, Essex, which is seen in the background.
  • The Rev. Dr. Leslie D. Weatherhead
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    Oil on canvas
    By Frank O. Salisbury (1874 - 1962), mid 20th century

    Leslie Weatherhead was a Methodist preacher of worldwide renown. He was known for his impressive appearance, clarity of thought and melodious voice.
  • Portrait of Adam Clarke
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    Oil on canvas
    By unknown artist, Early 19th century

    Adam Clarke (1762 – 1832) was a British Methodist theologian and biblical scholar. He came to the attention of Wesley in 1778, who invited Clarke to become a pupil in the Methodist school established lately at Kingswood near Bristol. In 1779, Clarke converted to Methodism and became a preacher and theologian of great ability. Unusually, Clarke became President of the Methodist Conference three times, in 1806, 1814 and 1822.
    1992/497
  • Portrait of Mrs Bradburn
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    Oil on canvas
    Painted by unknown artist, Late 18th/early 19th century

    Mrs Bradburn was the wife of the Rev. Samuel Bradburn (1751–1816), who was a Methodist preacher, an associate of John Wesley, and a follower of John Fletcher of Madeley. Little is known of Mrs Bradburn; she may have been the first or second wife of Samuel, his first wife passing away in 1786 of consumption.

    1993/1636
  • Teapots
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    Ceramic
    Staffordshire, late 18th century

    Commemorative ware featuring John Wesley was popular during Wesley’s later years and increasingly so in memory of Wesley after his death in 1791. Like these teapots which are made of creamware (a type of ceramic associated with Josiah Wedgwood), they usually featured an image of Wesley and a prayer or moral text.
  • New Chapel, City Road
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    Engraving
    1779

    This view shows the New Chapel (today’s Wesley’s Chapel) shortly after it was built. Wesley described the Chapel as ‘neat but not fine’. Although changes have been made over the years Wesley would still recognise ‘his’ City Road Chapel today.
  • Portrait of Rodney 'Gypsy' Smith
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    Oil on canvas
    Painted by A.T. Nowell, Early 20th century

    Rodney, or 'Gipsy', Smith MBE (1860 – 1947) was a British evangelist who conducted evangelistic campaigns in the United States and Great Britain for over 70 years. He was an early member of The Salvation Army.

    Gypsy was born in a Romani tent in Epping Forest, close to London. He received no formal education, and his family made a living selling home made wares, such as baskets. At the age of 16, Gypsy was converted and noticed by William Booth of the Salvation Army. Gypsy became an evangelist with and for the Mission and served for a number of years. Later, he traveled around the world extensively on evangelistic missions or 'crusades', drawing huge crowds.

    It is believed that Gipsy never wrote a sermon out for preaching purposes, although he wrote several books. He could sing well, and sometimes he would interrupt his sermons and burst into song. Several of these hymns were recorded by Columbia Records.

    1997/6659
  • John Wesley walking between two of his preachers, Dr James Hamilton and Joseph Cole, in Edinburgh
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    Oil on board
    by Joseph Kay, c.1790

    The picture depicts the three preachers, the best known Methodist preachers of their day in Scotland, walking together in Edinburgh in 1790. Wesley was small of statue, about 5ft 4 inches.
  • The Chapel complex, 1821
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    Watercolour
    Unknown artist

    In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the chapel was flanked by two near identical houses; in fact, five were planned originally with a central archway leading to the Chapel behind, but only two were built. Today only one, John Wesley’s House, survives.
  • John Wesley preaching in Ireland
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    Oil on canvas
    By Maria Sppilsbury Taylor, 1815

    John Wesley visited Ireland twenty-one times between 1747 and 1789. On his last visit, in 1789, he preached under the Spanish chestnut tree depicted in the painting. Spilsbury Taylor painted the scene after Wesley's death, in 1815, which accounts for the early 19th century garments and hair fashions.
    1997/6628
  • John Wesley preaching from the Steps of a Market Cross
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    Oil on canvas
    by J.W. Hatherell, mid 20th century

    John Wesley is shown preaching from the steps of the market cross, possibly in his home town, Epworth, in Lincolnshire. He is said to have preached around 40,000 sermons and travelled some 250,000 miles in his lifetime.
  • John Wesley, by John Jackson R.A.
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    Oil on board
    early 19th century

    A Methodist himself, Jackson was commissioned to paint portraits of several Methodist ministers, including this one painted after Wesley's death.
    (1997/6655)
  • Samuel Wesley
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    Oil on canvas
    by John Jackson R.A. (1778-1831)

    Samuel Wesley (1766-1837) was the son of John Wesley’s brother Charles. He was a child prodigy and, like his father, became a well-known composer and organist.
  • Portrait of Thomas Coke
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    Gouache on ivory
    By unknown artist, early 19th century

    Thomas Coke (1747-1814) was the first Methodist bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Americas and is sometimes referred to as the Father of Methodist Missions.

    Born in Brecon, South Wales, Coke met John Wesley in 1776, becoming one of his closest assistants. Wesley called Coke "the flea" because he seemed always to be hopping around from one place to another.
    Controversially, John Wesley consecrated Coke for the work in the Americas which, theoretically, only bishops were able to do. Then, in December 1784, a conference of Methodist preachers was held at Baltimore. At this Coke, together with Francis Asbury, was elected superintendent and the Church was constituted as an independent body under the name of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1787 the American Methodist Conference formally endorsed the title of 'bishop' instead of superintendent.

    Coke later returned to England and hoped to open Methodist missions in the East Indies. He set sail for Ceylon (Sri Lanka) on 30 December 1813 but died after four months at sea.

    1992/12
  • Portrait of John Wesley
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    Oil on canvas
    By unknown artist, Late 18th century

    This portrait of Wesley is a copy after George Romney (1734 -1802). Wesley sat for Romney on 29 December 1788 and three times in January 1789. Wesley wrote in his journal: "Mr Romney is a painter indeed. He struck off an exact likeness at once, and did more in an hour than Sir Joshua [Reynolds] did in ten."
    1992/421
  • John Wesley pulpit and clock statue
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    Ceramic
    Staffordshire, mid 19th century

    Ornaments depicting John Wesley were very popular in the Victorian age as mantelpiece decorations. Many depicted a clock probably to emphasise the passing of time and as a reminder to lead a worthy life.
  • Portrait of Hugh Bourne
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    Oil on canvas
    By unknown artist, early 19th century

    Hugh Bourne (1772 - 1852) and William Clowes (1780 - 1851) were joint founders of the Primitive Methodist movement, the largest offshoot of Wesleyan Methodism. Primitive Methodism, the Wesleyan Methodists and the United Methodists re-united in 1932, establishing Methodist Union.
    1993/1476
  • Portrait of John Wesley
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    Oil on canvas
    after Thomas Horsley, late 1780s

    In the background is the chapel Wesley built on City Road as it appeared when first built, with its original windows and smaller entrance portico.
  • Portrait of Rev. David McNicoll
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    Oil on canvas
    After J. Jackson R.A. (1778-1831), Early 19th century

    As a young man, David McNicoll (c. 1782-1836) showed much promise as a poet and preacher. He was held in high regard by Adam Clarke, in whose family he lived for a while. Later, McNicoll became an assistant in the London (Southwark) circuit (1828-29).
    1993/1477
  • A Correct View of the Old Methodist Church in John Street Church, N York
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    Aquatint
    John I. Hill (1770-1850) (after); aquatint by Joseph B. Smith (1798–1876) & Peter C. Smith (act. 19th century), c. 1823/24

    View of the original John Street Methodist Church in Lower Manhatten, New York City. This was torn down in 1817 and rebuilt in 1818, hence the title of this print, "Old Methodist Church", published subsequent to the demolition. The house on the right was already on the site when the church was built and was used as the parsonage and library.
  • Rev. William Clowes
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    Oil on canvas
    By unknown artist, early 19th century

    William Clowes (1780 - 1851) was converted to Methodism in 1805. In 1807, he attended the first Primitive Methodist meeting, together with Hugh and James Bourne and others. This was an all day prayer meeting at Mow Cop.
    1993/1491
  • John Wesley’s death mask
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    Plaster

    The original mask was made immediately after John Wesley’s death; this cast was taken from it in the 20th century.
  • Reverend Charles Wesley (1707–1788), MA
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    Oil on Canvas
    Painted by John Russell R.A. (1745-1806), 1771

    The Reverend Charles Wesley, MA was John Wesley's younger brother. He was one of the youngest children of Susanna and Samuel Wesley, their eighteenth child. Like his brother, Charles was ordained into the Anglican Church and later became active in the Methodist movement, However, despite their closeness, the brothers did not always agree on questions relating to their beliefs, in particular whether a breach with the Church of England was permissible or justified. This led to open conflict.

    Charles Wesley is best known for writing about 6,500 hymns and he has sometimes been called the 'sweet singer of Methodism'.

    1997/6656
  • A Collection of Hymns, for the use of the People called Methodists
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    Frontispiece
    1780

    The ‘Collection of Hymns’ was the first comprehensive Methodist hymn collection published during John Wesley’s lifetime and the ancestor of all Methodist hymnals.
  • Thomas Coke’s Travelling Desk and writing tools
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    Mahogany
    early 19th century

    Thomas Coke (1747-1814) was a friend and close associate of John Wesley. Controversially, he was ‘ordained’ by Wesley as superintendent of the Methodist cause in America, which eventually helped cause the split between the Church of England and the Methodists. Coke dreamt of setting up a Methodist Mission in India but died at sea on his way to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1814.
  • Portrait of Anna Kull
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    Oil on canvas
    Painted by James Smetham (1821-1889), 1857

    Born in Austria, Anna Kull (1841-1923) was probably the best known mid 19th century female Cellist and a child prodigy. She spent much of her youth travelling through Europe on concert tours. Aged 12 she first performed in London (1853), and then visited again in 1857, when this portrait was painted. Her final performance in the English capital took place in 1859. Kull withdrew from public performances in 1860 aged only 19, although she lived to the age of 82.

    James Smetham (1821 – 1889) was an English Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood painter and engraver. He was a follower of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

    1997/6642
  • John Pawson
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    Oil on board
    By unknown artist, late 18th century

    John Pawson (1737 - 1806) was superintendent of the Chapel in City Road after John Wesley. He became known for burning Wesley's annotated secular books after his death, including Shakespeare, in an effort to control Wesley's posthumous image.
  • The Holy Triumph of John Wesley in his Dying
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    Oil on canvas
    by Marshall Claxton, R.A. (1811-1881), c. 1842

    John Wesley is depicted on his deathbed surrounded by a large group of family, friends and colleagues, uttering his memorable words: “The best of all is, God is with us”. Wesley’s bedroom was smaller than the room illustrated in the painting, which itself was painted fifty years after the event. It is likely Claxton employed artistic license; there is also a tradition which suggests Wesley died in a chair in his Study.
  • Busts of John Wesley
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    Ceramic
    Staffordshire, late 18th and early 19th centuries

    The model on which all three busts are based was modelled in 1784 when Wesley sat for sculptor Enoch Wood, a member of a famous family of Staffordshire potters. The original was made from basaltware, an unglazed ceramic which enabled Wood to portray Wesley with much realism. The museum owns many Wesley busts; these are some of the most realistic.
  • Paul at the Gate of the Temple Easing the Suffering
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    Oil on board
    By unknown artist, Probably 19th century

    The exact date of this oil on wood panel painting is unknown, but it has been painted in a 17th century style.
    1993/1482
  • The Holy Triumph of John Wesley in His Dying
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    Oil on canvas
    Painted by Marshall Claxton (1811 -1881), c. 1842

    On 2nd March 1791, Methodist founder, Rev John Wesley died at his house in London following a final five day illness. He was 88 years old. It is reported that he sang a final hymn “I ‘II Praise My Maker While I’ve Breath”, his final words being: “Best of all is, God is with us.” Wesley’s ministry re-energized and transformed the expression of Christian faith in Britain and his pastoral and preaching activity generated great enthusiasm. This in turn helped shape and direct Methodism.

    The portrait shows Wesley on his deathbed, surrounded by friends, family and preachers. The work was painted around fifty years after Wesley's death and the artist has employed considerable license, including the dimensions of the room in which Wesley passed away. There is also a tradition which suggests Wesley died in a chair in his Study.

    Marshall Claxton (1811 - 1881) was the son of a Wesleyan Methodist minister from Lancashire and painted landscape, portrait and genre paintings. He was known for his depictions of Wesleyan and Methodist subjects and exhibited around 30 paintings at the Royal Academy, including this work.

    1997/6733
  • Rev. Frederick James Jobson D.D.
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    Oil on canvas
    By unknown artist, 19th century

    The Rev. Frederick James Jobson D.D. (1812 - 1882) became a Wesleyan minister in 1834. His Promotion of the Gothic architectural style was a major influence on Methodist and Nonconformist buildings, especially after is publication 'Chapel and School Architecture' (1850).
    1993/1479
  • Rev. Robert Newton
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    Oil on canvas
    By John Jackson R.A. (1778 - 1831), early 19th century

    The Rev. Robert Newton (1780 - 1854) was the son of a farmer and became a Wesleyan Methodist minister in 1799. He was an enthusiastic advocate of overseas missionary activity and raised enormous sums for this purpose.
    1997/6631
  • Francis Asbury, by unknown artist
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    Oil on canvas
    mid-19th century

    Francis Asbury (1745-1816) was one of the first two bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in north America, today's United Methodist Church. John Wesley had chosen - practically ordained - him and Thomas Coke for overseeing and directing Methodism in the Americas, which caused great controversy back home and contributed to a separation of Methodists from the Anglican Church.
    (1993/1643)
  • The Rev, John Wesley as an Old Man
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    Oil on canvas
    Painted by Frank O. Salisbury (1874–1962), 1932

    Posthumous portrait painted by Frank O. Salisbury to commemorate the union of the the Wesleyan, the Primitive and the United Methodist Churches in 1932. Salisbury painted a number of posthumous portraits of well-known Methodist figures, having Methodist roots himself. He arranged and paid for the restoration of John Wesley's House in City Road in 1934.

    1997/6654
  • Portrait of Rev. John Atlay
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    Oil on canvas
    By unknown artist, late 18th/early 19th century

    John Atlay (born 1736) was John Wesley's book steward at the City Road Chapel. The book steward was responsible for the day-to-day management of the so-called 'Book Room', Methodism's (and Wesley's) first publishing house. The Book Room used to be on City Road also, virtually next door to the Chapel. Atlay managed to reduce the debts of the Book Room in the 1770s and turned the business around in the 1780s - although Wesley tended to spend any surplus monies freely and as he saw fit.

    1993/1511
  • John Wesley
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    Oil on canvas
    by Robert Hunter (fl. 1748-80), c. 1765

    John Wesley is usually portrayed in old age, with white hair. This portrait is unusual in that it depicts a more youthful Wesley, younger apparently than his sixty-two years.
  • Frank O. Salisbury, self portrait
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    Oil on canvas
    1937

    Frank O. Salisbury (1874 - 1962) was a Methodist artist who specialized in portraits, often depicting ceremonial occasions and historical events. In the early 20th century, he worked particularly in Britain and the United States of America, where he was known as Britain's 'Painter Laureate'.
    1992/419
  • Portrait of Mrs Mary (‘Molly’) Vazeille (1710-1781)
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    Oil on wooden panel
    mid to late 18th century

    Mary Vazeille, usually known as ‘Molly’, was the widow of a Huguenot City banker and merchant. She and John Wesley were married in 1751 after an exceptionally short courtship. Molly and John were not suited well for each other and the marriage suffered from misunderstandings and jealousy from the start. The marriage remained childless and resulted in separation.
  • Portrait of Christ
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    Oil on canvas
    by Herbert Beecroft (1864-1951), 1927

    And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the Lord’s words; “Tonight before the cock crows you will disown me three times (Luke XXII.61)

    This painting is among the most reproduced paintings of Christ of all time. Beecroft lived in Reading and attended Methodist Church there, before emigrating to Australia in 1905.
  • Portrait of Mrs Atmore
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    Oil on canvas
    By unknown artist, Early 19th century

    Mrs Atmore was the wife of Charles Atmore (1759 - 1826). He was an associate of John Wesley and after Wesley's death, Atmore took a leading part and contributed to the consolidation of the Wesleyan Methodist church. Atmore became President of Conference in 1811-12.
    1992/423
  • Mrs Charles Wesley, by unknown artist
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    Oil on board
    early 19th century

    Sarah ('Sally') Gwynne (1726-1822) married Charles Wesley in 1749. The marriage was happy and produced two sons, both well-known musicians. The portrait shows Mrs Wesley in old age.
    (1997/6629)
  • Wesleyan chapel money box
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    Ceramic
    Staffordshire, early/mid 19th century

    The design of this money box reflects the Methodist tradition of building preaching houses and small chapels rather than traditional churches with spires. Methodists were often reminded to be thrifty, and to give to good causes.
  • John Wesley
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    Oil on canvas
    Painted by Robert Hunter (c.1715/1720–c.1803), 1765

    John Wesley (1703-1791) was an Anglican clergyman who became one of the founders of Methodism. When this portrait was painted in 1765, Wesley was sixty-two years old, older than the painting would suggest.

    Robert Hunter (fl. 1748–1780) was a portrait-painter and a native of Ulster. He had a painting studio of considerable size in Dublin in the middle of the eighteenth century. The tonality of his works was influenced by the colouring of old master paintings and he is said to have produced excellent likenesses.

    1994/2784
  • Portrait of the Rev. Richard Watson (1781-1833)
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    Oil on canvas
    By unknown artist, 19th century

    Watson was one of the first outstanding Wesleyan Methodist theologians and had a keen interest in promoting foreign missions. He became President of Conference in 1826. Watson is perhaps best remembered for his 'Theological Institutes' (1831), in which he tried to bring John Wesley's theology into a coherent system.
    1993/1480
  • Pulpit
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    Oak and pine, partially painted
    early 18th century

    This pulpit was used by John Wesley at his original London headquarters, the ’Foundery’, originally a government cannon factory which stood close to today’s Wesley’s Chapel. Made from pine and oak it is much simpler than the elegant mahogany pulpit which was given to the ‘New Chapel’ shortly after opening in 1778.
  • John Westley (1636-1670)
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    Oil on canvas
    late 18th century (ca)

    The Reverend John Westley was the grandfather of John Wesley. A Puritan and Non-Conformist, he was imprisoned for preaching 'illegally'.
    (1993/1635)