Bristol's Methodist Chapel £2.3m funding bid on track

The New Room, Bristol (Methodist Chapel) The New Room is the oldest Methodist Chapel in the world

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An application to update the world's first Methodist chapel through a £2.3m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant has passed its first stage.

The New Room was built in Bristol in 1739 by the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley.

Plans include a three-storey extension to house the library and offices so more of the chapel can be opened to the public.

Officials have now decided the project meets the criteria for HLF funding.

Chair of the New Room Trustees, Reverend A Ward Jones, said: "Our current facilities do not reflect the historic importance of this building and our need to be able to properly welcome and inform visitors about this place."

'Hidden heritage gem'

The extension, which would be built on the Horsefair Courtyard, would also mean more space for education and training classes.

Rev Jones said: "[John Wesley] used it for many purposes but primarily there was a focus on education and we want to develop our work in this area but cannot do so without the new building and appropriate resources necessary to deliver such provision."

Nerys Watts, of the HLF South West, said the New Room was a "hidden heritage gem" in the heart of Bristol.

She said: "HLF's initial support means that further project plans can be developed that will transform the New Room's visitor offer, vastly improve its storage facilities for the internationally important archives and provide a host of wonderfully interactive community activities for all to learn from and enjoy."

In the new plans, a statue of John Wesley's brother Charles would be given a more prominent place within the existing courtyard.

The New Room is open six days a week throughout the year and receives about 25,000 visitors each year.

It is supported by more than 200 volunteers, many of whom are stewards who welcome visitors to the chapel.

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