Thursday, 22 October 2015

Wesley College Collections - safe at last!

What an amazing collection!  How wonderful to see John Wesley’ shorthand diary, 1790-91 (D3/1), and “My mother’s conference with her daughter in the hand of John Wesley, 1711/12 (D2/4).  A personal favourite was a tinted daguerreotype of an unknown woman, among other members of staff (?) at Didsbury College, Manchester c1845 (E4/2/27-29).

The manuscripts and archives from Wesley College, Bristol, are extraordinarily rich.  They span over 300 years, and include autograph letters by William Wilberforce, the Duke of Wellington and Robert Peel.  One of the oldest books in the printed book collection, a volume of the Hebrew Bible, dating from 1524, sent a shiver down my spine! These gems have been in storage since the closure of the College, but have now taken their rightful place in the John Rylands Library in Manchester.
Diarmaid MacCulloch
A special Celebration was held on 15 October, to mark their transfer to the John Rylands Library.  Diarmaid MacCullloch, who catalogued the collection when he was at Wesley College (1978-90), and Dr Henry Rack, spoke movingly about their involvement with the collection.  I was particularly impressed to learn that Dr Rack’s father had been taught by A S Peake at Hartley College!  The event was hosted by the John Rylands Library, and we are very grateful to Gareth Lloyd and Peter Nockles, the archivists who do an amazing job of looking after our Connexional Archives.
David Hart, Diarmaid MacCulloch and Henry Rack
Special thanks to Philip Thornborow, Liaison Officer for Methodist Archives, whose untiring efforts have secured the future of this collection, and Revd Dr David Hart, Chair of the Methodist Church Archive and Records  Advisory Group.
Rev Michael Parrott, a member of the Heritage Committee

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