Epworth’s Old Rectory celebrates diamond jubilee

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An Isle museum, which attracts visitors from throughout the world, has notched-up its diamond jubilee.

It is Epworth’s Old Rectory and this month (June) marks the 60th anniversary of the building having been open to the public, first as a bed and breakfast facility and latterly as a museum, having been bought by the World Methodist Council (WMC).

Until 1954 the Old Rectory was still used as the accommodation for the vicar of Epworth’s parish church of St Andrew’s. It was then sold and for a number of years stood empty.

“When it was bought by the WMC it was obvious that it had been much altered and changed over the years,” said the Manager at the Old Rectory, Gill Crawley.

“It was in need of restoration and an appeal was also launched to find artefacts relevant to the era when it was the Wesley’s home,” she added.

Initially, as the Old Rectory had to pay its own way, it was both a magnet for Methodists from throughout the world and also operated as a bed and breakfast venue.

“At this time b and b guests could sleep under what is known as the Whitney Quilt, which is what John Wesley used to sleep under,” said Gill. “We don’t even allow people to touch it today, as it is one of our most precious possessions,” she added.

The Old Rectory was built in 1709 to replace a former rectory, which had been burnt down in a fire. The newer rectory was the childhood home of John and Charles Wesley, who formed a movement that went on to become the world-wide Methodist Church.

The Old Rectory became an accredited museum in 2009 and the restoration work is still continuing. It attracts some 5,000 visitors a year from both near and far.