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Wesley College Collection

The special collections of the former Methodist ministerial training establishment of Wesley College in Bristol comprise archives, manuscripts and printed items created or collected by the college and its predecessor institutions, Headingley College in Leeds and Didsbury College, Manchester. Prior to its transfer to Manchester in 2014, following the closure of Wesley College, the collection was considered to be the finest evangelical special collection in Britain outside of the John Rylands Library.  

The archives and manuscripts comprise:

  • Institutional records including minutes, correspondence, policy documents, photographs and financial papers.
  • Autograph letters, sermons and other personal papers written by or about iconic figures from evangelical history including John and Charles Wesley, John and Mary Fletcher, George Whitefield and Jabez Bunting.
  • A rich diversity of non-Methodist manuscript and archive material spanning over 300 years, including autograph letters and other manuscripts by William Wilberforce, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel.

The collection also contains around 3,500 (mainly early) printed volumes and periodicals. It features standard biblical and patristic texts in the original languages, especially 16th- & 17th-century editions of the Hebrew and Greek Testaments, English translations of the Bible including the Roman Catholic Rheims-Douai edition (1582), editions of the early Church Fathers, along with works of both English and continental Reformers and even Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation divines. There are editions of the Roman Missal and Latin Breviary, and English devotional as well as theological and controversialist works of the 16th-18th centuries are well represented. The collection also includes editions of Greek and Roman Classical texts, philosophical treatises, literary texts, travel guides, topographical and geographical works, and British and World history. The collection is thus far more than a storehouse of purely Wesleyan Methodist printed material.

Finding aids


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

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