‘My favourite item’ by Keith Abel – Guide
‘My favourite object in the Old Rectory is Wesley’s Preaching Chair in the parlour. It is a very unusual shape with its high back and very short legs. Have they been shortened by repeatedly sawing off the rotten wood or were people so much shorter in stature then than they are today?
The metal inscription tells us that this was a chair used by John Wesley in 1756. Did he sit on it during a meeting in a preaching house or someone’s home? Did he write a sermon sitting on it at a low table? Or did he indeed stand on it in the open air to raise himself above the crowd as he preached to them? Could it have followed him round the country as a travelling pulpit?
One of my first tours with a group of Korean visitors I told them about the chair and then turned my back to show them a picture. Imagine my horror when I turned back to find one visitor standing on the chair and posing for a photo! Since then I have always begun each tour by insisting on the precious nature of the very few artefacts we have which have a personal connection to the Wesley family.’