Wesley House was founded as a Methodist theological college (or seminary) on Jesus Lane in Cambridge, England. It opened in 1921 as a place for the education of Methodist ministers within the precincts of the University of Cambridge. It was a founding member of the Cambridge Theological Federation. Today, Wesley House is a gateway to theological scholarship for students and scholars of the Wesleyan and Methodist traditions from around the world.
The college was founded and endowed by Michael Gutteridge, a Methodist businessman in Naples, well known in Italy for philanthropy. After four years at 2 Brookside, Cambridge, in cooperation with Cheshunt College, it moved in 1925 to its present site, which was purchased from Jesus College.
The principal's house was completed in 1929, and the chapel, which originally contained paintings by Harold Speed, in 1930. The buildings were designed by Maurice Webb. The garden was designed in 1925 by Sir Aston Webb in a Tudor revival style.
On 1 September 2014 the Jesus Lane site was sold to Jesus College and a long lease taken out by the Trustees of Wesley House on the eastern part of the site. The Principal's house and Chapel are retained whilst a new gatehouse building containing a library, dining hall and teaching rooms is being constructed on Jesus Lane. At the back of the site a new student accommodation block is being constructed. The new buildings will open in time for the start of the 2015-16 academic year.
The chair of Systematics and Pastoral Theology was held by the first principal, Dr. Henry Maldwyn Hughes, from 1921 to 1937. He was the author of several works on Christian belief. That of New Testament Language and Literature was held by the Revd Robert Newton Flew from 1927 to 1937, when he succeeded Hughes both as principal and professor. One of the earliest students was Donald Soper. Flew, principal from 1937 to 1955, was one of the moving forces behind the establishment of the World Council of Churches. Another alumnus was Bolaji Idowu, who headed the Methodist Church Nigeria from 1972 to 1984.
The three-sided court fronted by iron gates and railings became enclosed in 1973 by a new building housing flats for married students and a lecture theatre. This building no longer belongs to the college.
The College is administered by a board of trustees. There is room for some 28, mostly graduate students. The present Principal is Revd Dr Jane Leach, who has written on faith development and pastoral care. Students working for the degrees of BTh, BA, MPhil and PhD are attached to a secular Cambridge University college as well as Wesley House, while Wesley staff serve as associate lecturers of the university.
Wesley House works in partnership with a range of Methodist institutions worldwide including Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary; Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington; Kenya Methodist University and the Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia.
Notable staff and alumni
- Westcott House, a Church of England theological college, also in Jesus Lane.
- Paul Stuart Glass: The History of Wesley House (Leeds: University of Leeds, 1993).
- British History Online: Retrieved 1 February 2012.
- Parks & Gardens UK site: Retrieved 1 February 2012.
- E. g. Christian Foundations: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine ([London]: Epworth Press, 1928, rev. 1933); a short biography of Hughes: Retrieved 1 February 2012.
- British History Online...
- ODNB entry for Robert Newton Flew: Retrieved 18 September 2011. Subscription required.
- British History Online...; Wesley House history: Retrieved 9 October 2011.
- Wesley House contacts: Retrieved 9 October 2011.
- The Appeal of Faith Development Theory : A Sociological Perspective (Nottingham: Nottingham Trent University, 1997); with Michael Paterson: Pastoral Supervision : A Handbook (London: SCM Press, 2010). ISBN 0-334-04325-5
- Wesley House partnerships: Retrieved 9 October 2011.
Bibliographical details are taken from the records of the British Library.