New light on John Wesley: Methodism's oldest chapel honours founder with stained glass window

The oldest Methodist chapel in the world has honoured its founder John Wesley with a new stained glass window illustrating scenes from his life.

The window made by glass artist Andrew Taylor was installed today at the New Room in central Bristol, known as 'the cradle of Methodism' and dating from 1739.

The stained glass window installed at the New Room, referencing Wesley's conversion and preaching ministry.New Room

The three-panel piece illustrates Wesley's remarkable life and was commissioned for the New Room's Heritage Lottery-funded visitor centre, which opened in 2017.

Methodist historian Gary Best, volunteer warden of the New Room, said: 'Stained glass is an art form usually associated with churches but today 90 per cent of commissions are undertaken for public buildings. Styles change but this vibrant and dynamic art form is still able to tell a story in a uniquely beautiful way through its use of colour and light.

'We have an important story to tell and our new window will provide not just a beautiful and eye-catching focus for the atrium of our new visitor centre but a vivid way of showing why the story of John and Charles Wesley is still so important today.'

Artist Andrew Taylor has been working with stained glas for 25 years and is an expert in church windows. He said: 'It feels a privilege to have been invited to design and make this window for the modern extension at the New Room.

'Having had a Jesuit education, I knew little about John Wesley and his teachings so I've enjoyed doing research for the project and learning more on his life and work.

'My aim was to make a vibrant and colourful background of painted glass with references to John Wesley's life and history, into which cameo scenes and symbolic images are laid out as if on a screen or map.'

The glass paint fired onto the surface of the glass helps create a feeling of energy, he said, adding: 'I hope this will fit the spirit and energy I sense behind John Wesley's life and work.'

Workmen installing the window today.New Room

The visitor centre features a state-of-the-art museum, a brand new library and archives store, an award-winning café selling Fairtrade coffee and home-baked cakes and savouries, a gift shop and an education/conference centre, and is open Monday to Saturday 10.30 am to 4 pm.