John Wesley memorial – Newcastle

Wesley Square on the quayside in Newcastle upon Tyne  includes a memorial obelisk to John Wesley, who first preached on Tyneside in May 1742.

Newcastle was a very important centre for Wesley, on a par with Bristol and London.

Newcastle was a very important centre for Wesley, on a par with Bristol and London.

John and his brother Charles were the founders of  the Methodist religious movement.

From the 1730’s until his death in London on 3rd March 1791, John Wesley travelled some many thousands of miles around Britain, on horseback and by carriage; he preached several times each day and wrote or edited around 400 publications.

He left behind a movement of about 70,000 members.

Wesley Memorial

A slim obelisk of polished pink granite rises above a grey marble pedestal on which an organic pattern is carved in contrasting black paint.

There is a water trough at the base of the east face and a drinking trough attached to the west face, above which is attached a separately carved lion’s head.

The memorial obelisk was commissioned on the centenary of Wesley’s death by local Methodists and sited on ground given by the Town Improvement Committee.

Unveiled by Utrick Ritson on the 29 October 1891 the monument is English Heritage Grade II listed. The designer is not known.

Mr Ritson, said that the drinking fountain was a fitting memorial to one of the most remarkable characters of the eighteenth century.

The Tyne bridge can be seen in the distance

The Tyne bridge can be seen in the distance

The obelisk was cleaned and re-sited by Eura Conservation in 1992 as part of Tyne and Wear Development Corporation’s regeneration of the river frontage. However, it is no longer connected to a water supply.

John Wesley

Wesley recorded his first visit to Newcastle in his Journal.

The entry for Sunday 30th May 1742 reads: ‘At seven in the morning I walked down to Sandgate, the poorest and most contemptible part of the town, and standing at the end of the street with John Taylor, began to sing the hundredth psalm’.

It was a remarkable occurrence because people were not used to outdoor evangelical sermons.

He preached again that evening to a large crowd and subsequently visited Tyneside another 50 times over the course of his life, taking a personal interest in the religious and moral lives of its inhabitants.

Further information

Wesley Memorial Fountain – Public Monument and Sculpture Association

Methodist Heritage

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