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The Wesley Historical Society Welcomes You and Values Your Interest

The Wesley Historical Society was founded in 1893 for the advancement of interest in the history of all branches of the Methodist Church.

Rev John Wesley
1703 - 1791

Rev John Wesley
'I look upon the whole
world as my parish'

Rev Charles Wesley
1707 - 1788

Rev Charles Wesley
'God buries His workmen,
but carries on His work'


Wesleyan and Methodist heritage is an integral part of the history of countries worldwide and we welcome everyone who is interested in their own roots, culture and history to visit the pages in this web site.


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The Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society, Cumulative Index to Volumes 51 to 60,
is now available on the Biblical Studies.org.uk website. The direct link is https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/whs/51-60-index.pdf

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FEATURE ARTICLE

Southlands College 1872-2022

 

This year Southlands College marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of its establishment, and I have been researching its recent history. I recently found this photograph bearing the label 'A group of people wearing hard hats and standing outside', an accurate though not wholly satisfactory description.

                          

The photograph was taken in June 1996 and shows Rev. Dr Kenneth Greet and other dignitaries at the laying of the foundation stone of the new college campus, at its Roehampton site in London.

Once the move from its previous location in nearby Wimbledon had been agreed, the Southlands governors made the conscious decision to commission buildings which embodied both the rich European tradition of the faith-based university and the values of contemporary Methodism. The former were summarised thus by Cardinal Newman in 1893: 'When the church founds a University, she is not cherishing talent, genius, or knowledge, for their own sake, but for the sake of her children, with a view to their spiritual welfare and their religious influence and usefulness, with the object of training them to fill their respective posts in life better, and of making them more intelligent, capable, active members of society' [from the Preface to The Idea of a University Defined and Illustrated]. Built around a lawned quadrangle, the college has obvious echoes of an Oxford or Cambridge college, bringing together student accommodation, a teaching building, social space and offices, and of course a chapel.

But in launching the new complex in 1997, Dr Greet hailed it as an 'inspiring environment' which also reflected 'the sense of community, openness and honest quest for truth and order which are such important strands in Methodism' [The New Southlands College, 1997]. The significant role of the college within the wider Methodist community was and remains palpable; amongst the letters of congratulation received was one from Rev. Dr Tim Macquiban, then at Westminster College Oxford, and now chair of the Southlands trustees as well as the immediate past chair of the Wesley Historical Society. 

The most obvious physical embodiment of the Methodist character of the college is the chapel, which commands the entrance to the site. This clearly obeys John Wesley's injunction [from the 'Large Minutes' of 1780], 'Let all our preaching-houses be built plain and decent'. Any visiting Methodist historian is also immediately struck by its resemblance to the octagonal chapels of early Methodism, as at Heptonstall (1764, on the left below). The Southlands architect was however quite unaware of this precedent. Wesley had argued that wherever the site permitted, chapels should be built 'in the Octagon form. It is best for the voice, and on any accounts more commodious than any other.' Two centuries later, perhaps reflecting the same practical considerations, or maybe led by the Holy Spirit, Sheppard Robson came to the same conclusion. 

   


For more on early octagon chapels see C. Deane Little, 'Early Methodist Octagons', Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society, vol. XXV (1946), 81-6.


 

 






 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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