The Cradle of Methodism is the first-ever full-scale history of the New Room, which John Wesley built in Bristol in 1739. Much of what developed into the movement known as Methodism was initiated first at the New Room. Among other things, the building acted as a food bank, as a school for the poor, and as one of the first free medical dispensaries, and its early members championed prison reform in Bristol. From it John Wesley attacked the consumerism that was creating a huge gulf between rich and poor, spoke out for a living wage for workers, encouraged women to take leadership roles, and vigorously campaigned against the slave trade.
The book examines the complex relationship between John Wesley and the two other men most responsible for the creation of Methodism: his brother Charles, who lived for many years in Bristol and who is widely regarded as the world’s greatest hymn writer, and their friend, George Whitefield, who was one of the greatest preachers of all time.
Gary Best is the Warden of the New Room and one of the world’s leading Methodist historians. The book was written to mark the opening of the New Room’s new Visitor Centre in 2017, The Cradle of Methodism’ will help many to gain a far better understanding of the significance of the New Room and why Bristol should indeed be proud to have such a historic building in its city centre.