John Wesley chapel: Oldest Methodist building given £3.9m

Portrait of John Wesley Image copyright The New Room, Bristol
Image caption John Wesley was a preacher and priest who founded the Methodist movement

The first meeting room used by preacher John Wesley, founder of Methodism, has been given £3.9m to make improvements.

The 276-year-old New Room, in Bristol, is set to be "transformed" with grants of £2.5m from the lottery and £1.4m from the Bristol Methodist District.

It is said to be the oldest Methodist chapel in the world - used by Wesley for those responding to his message of Christian faith and social justice.

A library, new lecture rooms and a cafe are all planned for the site.

These will sit inside a brand new, three-storey building in the Horsefair Courtyard, which will be linked to the New Room building by a glass roof.

The interior of the chapel itself will not be changed.

Image copyright THE NEW ROOM, BRISTOL
Image caption The new three-storey addition to the site will feature a library, teaching rooms and a cafe
Image copyright Stephen Morris
Image caption John Wesley bought the plot of land in 1739

The Reverend Ward Jones, chair of the New Room Trustees and the Bristol Methodist District, said the "significant" grants gave the opportunity to "look to the future in a very exciting way".

"We will be able to upgrade our current facilities, so that we can properly welcome and inform visitors from the local area, from schools and colleges, and from all over the world," he said.

Building work is subject to meeting planning conditions but is expected to begin in the autumn.

The head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the South West, Nerys Watts, said: "Thousands of shoppers pass the entrance to the New Room every day without realising that it is one of the most important buildings in the history of Methodism.

"This grant...will transform the museum's offering to visitors, ensuring its internationally important collections and archives are better maintained and displayed."

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