His most famous sermon, took as its central theme ’Cleanliness is next to Godliness’, John Wesley the father of Methodism would spend his winters in London.
Known as a circuit preacher he would spend his summer time riding around the country on horseback preaching to communities the virtues of Methodism, returning when travel along the byways of rural England became impossible.
[H]is first Methodist chapel operated out of an old cannon factory – a strange choice for those that extol pacifism – just behind the existing site of Wesley’s Chapel in City Road, which gives a fascinating insight of Victorian piety.
In Wesley’s house adjacent to the Chapel there is a fascinating contraption. To strengthen his legs during his time in London Wesley had a chair made especially to replicate the sensation of being on a horse, to ensure the muscles in his legs, important for horse riding didn’t deteriorate.
In keeping with his philosophy of cleanness Wesley had a splendid gent’s toilet installed in the chapel manufactured by the pioneer of water closets, George Jennings.
Dating from 1899 this immaculately preserved shrine to cleanliness is still in use. Designed to the highest standards, Jennings is less well known as his memorably named counterpart, Thomas Crapper, a man who has since stolen the lavatorial limelight.
Gleaming hand basins dressed with red mottled marble, ceramic urinals (which thoughtfully include bull’s eye targets and marble modesty screens) and an array of well proportioned wooden cubicles not unlike a row of confessional boxes.
The instruction to ’Pull and Let Go’ on the cistern handles would have appealed to the congregation’s high principles as this simple action released the water to cleanse away the body’s impurities.
Further parallels are to be found. Waxed cedar wood seats (not unlike pews) lift to reveal the proud lettering: The Venerable.
Curiously these are the exact words carved on John Wesley’s tomb behind the church.