Continuing the tour of Epworth, we are now at the Parish Church of St. Andrew’s. Here, the Revd. Samuel Wesley, father to John and Charles Wesley, served as rector from 1695 to 1735. Apart from the Wesley’s, the church has it’s own history, dating back to the medieval period.
Their website (above) says they are not a shrine or a museum, which adds to this church’s charm. I took a group of confirmands here and they loved it. The steward who opened the church knew the right amount of information to give to a group of 12-17 year olds. It was enough to interest them, and she stopped long before they got bored. Then, she invited them to look around wherever they wanted. There was no ‘Please don’t touch this,’ etc. (This is in contrast to the Rectory, owned by the World Methodist Council, where it is a museum.)
If you are going, call ahead. Whilst the church is generally open, if you ask to see the communion chalice, they will make arrangements to have it on display. As you can see from the photo, the date reads 1706. This is cup with which John Wesley would have taken his first communion. When I was there, the steward said that Antiques Roadshow was in Epworth, so they got the cup valued. On its own, it is worth £5,000, but add the Wesley connection and it jumps to £20,000. It’s an amazing artefact from Wesley’s life.
Other things to see around the church are an old chest that once would have kept marriage records (they do have copies of marriage records from weddings John Wesley performed), a small gift shop, and outside – the grave of Samuel Wesley. Years later, when John became more and more unpopular with the Anglicans, he was not allowed to preach in the church. So, he preached by standing on his father’s grave.