John Wesley was a priest in the Church of England. He came to Bristol in 1739 and started preaching to the poor in the open air. Wesley gathered those who responded into religious societies which met in people’s homes. Within weeks their numbers had increased so much that a new meeting place was needed.
He bought a small patch of land and built what he called ’our new room in the Horsefair’. It was used as a dispensary and schoolroom for the poor as well as for meetings and worship. It is still known today by Methodists as ’the New Room’. In 1748 it was extended and rebuilt to the size you can see today.
John’s brother,Charles, was also a Church of England priest. Charles is considered by many to be the world’s greatest ever hymn writer. Their shared mission was to take their Christian faith to the unchurched and especially to the poor who were often neglected by the Established Church.