Wesleyana, image 1
Miniature bust of John Wesley
Source: Weardale Museum
Copyright: © Weardale Museum.

Weslayana, image 2
Methodist Wesleyana
Source: Weardale Museum
Copyright: © Weardale Museum.

 

Wesleyana, image 3
 Interior of High House Chapel
Source: Weardale Museum
Copyright: © Weardale Museum.

Eastgate Roman Altar
Original Location: Weardale
Current Location: The Weardale Museum
Theme: Ritual/Religion
Period: Post-medieval
Date: c.1781 - 1850

What is it?
This bust of John Wesley represents the thousands of pieces of ceramic memorabilia which adorned British households during the hey-day of Methodism. Enoch Wood (1745-1840), generally considered as the most gifted member of the four generations of the famous family of potters from Burslem, Staffordshire was the first to fashion a bust of Wesley, a model taken from life in 1781. Many copies, including this one, were subsequently made by a host of Staffordshire potters including the studios of Josiah Wedgewood.

What is its relevance to the North Pennines?
John Wesley the founder of the Methodist Church who famously declared ‘The World is my parish’ travelled 4-5000 miles each year and there can have been few people who had not either seen or heard him speak during his 50 years of travelling. He made over twenty separate visits to the North Pennines. Methodism quickly became the preferred religion of the lead mining families and scores of little chapels were built to serve the population. The North Pennines boasts three of the oldest chapels in the world; at Keenley in Allendale, Newbiggin-in Teesdale and High House in Weardale.

Why is it important?
John Wesley’s popularity among ordinary folk continued well into the nineteenth century and made him an immensely marketable figure guaranteeing commercial success for the multitude of busts, plaques, plates, teapots and general china, spoons, and medallions which were fashioned in his image to be given as Sunday School prizes or to commemorate important anniversaries in the life of the Methodist Church and its chapels. Today when countryside chapels are disappearing at an extraordinary rate these pieces of Wesleyana serve to remind us of a time when religion was central to peoples’ lives.

Further Information

    Places to Visit:
  • High House Chapel and Weardale Museum, Ireshopeburn
  • Newbiggin Chapel in Teesdale
  • Keenley Chapel in Allendale

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