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Wesley House in the 1960s

The Principal's reports to the Governing Body of Wesley House
WF Flemington

Principal’s report December 1960

Mr Flemington stated that while degree work and that mentioned by Mr Skinner covered the bulk of the work, there were other matters that he would like to mention. Of the eleven who left in June, 1960, one was in Germany as Finch scholar, one a missionary  in the West Indies, two were in training for North and South Rhodesia, one was Assistant Tutor at Headingley and six were in circuit work. There had been letters from the men themselves indicating the value of what they had learned while at Cambridge. Good reports had been received of their preaching. There had also been most encourageing reports of the permanent value of the work they had undertaken in campaigns.


Visiting speakers included the President of the Conference, Dr. Baker, the Principal of Cliff College, the Chairman of the East Anglia District, the Rev. W. Gowland, the Rev. A. Kingsley Lloyd and the Rev. W.O. Phillipson.


The Theological Colleges Union was extremely active and there was more contact between the five Colleges than ever before. Mr Skinner had preached at the service held in the Lent Yerm. D.A. Woosley was President of the Theological Colleges Union this year. Some of the students had gone to the Youth Department Summer School which had proved a useful experience for those interested more or less in this aspect of the Church’s work. Mr Flemington also referred with pleasure to the links the College had with the Mission Field through the Governors: Dr. E.A. Hunter went to the celebrations of Nigerian Independence and met a former House man; E.J. Jones, who had been described as the best loved Chairman in any District. Dr. Baker was shortly to go on a seven-week journey to S.E.Asia. He had preached the University Sermon and made an important contribution on the subject of Christian re-union.



Principal’s report December 1961

The Principal stated that the health of the students was excellent. In part this was due to the help given by the housekeeper, who had seen that the students were well fed.


Mr Flemington reported that the senior Porter, Mr G.A. Burnham, who is a Divisional Superintendent in the St John Ambulance Brigade, was informed during the vacation that Her Majesty the Queen, the Sovereign Head of the Grand Priory in the British Realm of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, had been graciously pleased to sanction his admission as a Serving Brother of the Order of St. John. The Principal said that he would like to send a letter of congratulations to Mr Burnham and the Governors agreed that this would be most appropriate.


Of the students leaving, three were going to service overseas, one as an Assistant Tutor; The rest had gone into circuit work. Encouraging reports have been received about the preaching of the students. Campaigns at Abingdon and Whitley Bay had both gone well. A campaign was planned for Hatfield New Town in June, 1962. The celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the founding of Wesley House had been very successful. The College had been pleased to welcome the President of the Conference, an old House man, during his year of office.



Principal’s report December 1962

Mr Flemington said that it was a great delight to have Mr Skinner as a colleague. He had fully established himself in Cambridge and on three successive Sundays had preached in three different College Chapels.


The health of the students had been good apart from the one case of measles. Of those leaving, two had gone abroad, one to Sumatra and the other to Ghana; another was training at Selly Oak for service overseas, one was assistant minister at Hinde St, one at Stamford, one lived in a caravan doing work for Home Missions and one was an Assistant Tutor at Didsbury, while David Blatherwick, last year’s Finch Scholar, was assistant tutor at Headingley.


The preaching of the men in neighbouring circuits was greatly appreciated. Successful campaigns were held at Hatfield and Luton in 1962; there was to be one at Ipswich in 1963. Visiting speakers included the President and Secretary of Conference, the Rev David Francis and the Rev Jim Nielson. Others invited were the Rev Edward Rogers (Christian citizenship), the Rev James Moon (Missionary Society) and the Rev Joseph Stratton (Circuit work in Birmingham).


The football team was flourishing and there was to be a match with Richmond at the end of next term. Three men were playing for the first XI of Fitzwilliam House. In the Theological Colleges Union there were happy relations with the Anglicans and the Free Churches and the growth of relations with the Roman Catholics in Cambridge was a pleasant feature. The Principal and Mrs Flemington had had lunch with the Principal of St. Edmunds House and the Roman Catholics were taking part in the usual interchange of Halls. The Principal mentioned that Dr. Eric Baker, an old House man, was shortly to go to America, New Zealand and Australia, and to deliver the Cato lecture in the last named. It was agreed that the Principal should convey to Dr. Baker the Governors’ good wishes as he set out on this journey.



Principal’s report December 1963

The Principal reported that for the first time in the history of the House there was now in residence a son of an old student, David James. Those who left last year had settled down happily in their various spheres of work. Good reports had been received about the preaching of the students and of their work on campaigns. There was to be a campaign in Nottingham in 1964 under the direction of Karl Taylor, an old House man. Visiting speakers had included the President and Vice-President of the Conference, the Rev. H.T. Wigley, Canon Duckworth and Mr Deal, of the Methodist Insurance Company, who had made their own distinctive contributions. The President of the Conference was coming again this time to preach the University Sermon. There had been instances of pleasant co-operation with the Anglicans in meetings, discussion groups and services. The Principal reported that Mr and Mrs Nicholson, of Saffron Walden, had presented 12 rose bushes to commemorate the 100th birthday of Mrs Flew on September 10th. It was agreed that the Principal should write to thank Mr and Mrs Nicholson and that the Secretary should write on behalf of the Governors to give Mrs Flew warm congratulations.


The Rev. N. Goldhawk raised the question of the desirability of students who took services in Methodist Chapels during their time of training making use of the word “you” in their prayers. An interesting discussion followed. The Chairman said that it was of great value to those in theological Colleges to have the views of laymen on the way in which services were conducted.



Principal’s report February 1965

Mr Flemington reported that the health of the students was excellent. Those who left last year had gone to a variety of posts and good reports had been received on all. The Rev. Karl Taylor had given a good report of the campaign at Nottingham, which had proved useful experience for those who took part in it. Others had found value in going on a united campaign to Rugby.


Distinguished visitors included the President of the Conference, Dr. Baker, the Rev. Christopher Bacon, Mr. Goodall and Mr. Jeffrey. Other visitors were to come. The united activities of the theological colleges had increased including meetings with Roman Catholics. It was hoped that there would be more united campaigns.


The Theological Tripos was a better instrument than it used to be for training the ministry and was to be revised still further . The most recent development was that a new section had been provided in Part III concerned with theology in the modern world. Dr. Baker said he understood that Ian MacKenzie, who had given some help at Kingswood school this year had been able to get in touch with boys who had not been reached otherwise and it was reported that the same had happened at the Leys through the work of Mr. Collingwood. It was felt that a different background and experience might sometimes be of value in a school chaplain.



Principal’s report December 1965

The Principal reported that the health of the students was excellent. Most of those leaving had gone to Circuit work; one was en route to French West Africa and two were acting as Assistant Tutors. After careful thought one student, Colin Roberts, had withdrawn from the course. Visiting speakers had included the President of the Conference, the Rev. Russell Shearer, the Dean of Jesus, Canon Montefiore and the Rev. Reginald Hopper.


There were links with other theological Colleges, especially Westcott House on November 15th, when the whole evening had been spent at Westcott in a session to discuss the future shape of the ministry. A united campaign was to be held in Sheffield next September and a Wesley House campaign at Burton on Trent. The preaching of the students had been appreciated. Prayers in Chapel still provided a variety of liturgical emphases. Some voices were still raised in extemporised prayer and addressed the Almighty in the second person singular.



Principal’s report November 1966

The Principal reported that the health of the students was excellent. Most of the men who had left had gone into Circuit work of different kinds. Mr Deeks was now Assistant Tutor at Richmond and Mr Taylor was spending a fourth year at Westhill College taking a course of Youth Training. Mr DJ Wriglesworth had resigned as he wanted to apply his vocation to the Probation Service. He was now at Manchester taking a course of training.


A variety of speakers had visited the College during the year, including the President of the Conference, Frank Amery, Father Sebastian Bullough, Maurice Wiles, Hugh Mellor, Dr. Cumbers and Geoffrey Ainger. There had been a fruitful campaign in Burton on Trent and Wesley House men had been taking part in an ecumenical campaign in Sheffield. Another area of Sheffield wanted a team to visit them in 1967.


In conclusion, the Principal said that he would like to inform the Governors that after 42 years in the ministry, 30 of which had been spent at Wesley House, he thought that he ought to retire. The Chairman said that there would be another opportunity to express the gratitude of the Governors to Mr and Mrs Flemington for the great work they had done but the Governors would like now to wish them well in their retirement.


The Chairman added that the future of the Theological Colleges was very much the concern of the Church at this time and that a review was being made of the staffs of all the Colleges and what would be the best disposition of manpower at this stage. Though Wesley House was a private trust, appointments to the staff were made by the Conference.


Mr Flemington said that he would like to have the opportunity of making a statement about the future staffing of the College and it was agreed that this should be done either verbally or in writing. The Chairman suggested that the Governors might discuss the situation in general terms for a short while and that it would probably be wise to appoint a small committee to consider names and raise issues that the Governors would consider at a further meeting.


The Principal and Tutor then retired from the meeting. After general discussion in which the possibility of the appointment of a third tutor was raised, it was agreed that the Principal should submit a memorandum to the committee stating his view about the future of the College. It was agreed that the following should be members of the sub-committee: the Chairman and Secretary, W Russell Shearer, Rev N.A. Birtwhistle, Dr. Eric Baker, Messrs Maurice Howard and Chester Barrett. The committee would meet at 10:15 on December 16th and there would be a meeting of the Governors at 2:15 on the same day.


It was decided that Mr Flemington’s services to the College should be recognised by a presentation to him and Mrs Flemington at some time later in the session.

The Principal's reports to the Governing Body of Wesley House
Gordon Rupp

Principal’s report December 1967

Dr. Rupp said that he was grateful to the Ministerial Training Committee for the good batch of first-year men. He mentioned Mr M.E. Jones who had represented the University at Association Football and Leslie Griffiths, a former lecturer in English at Lampeter. Wesley House had had their first woman student, Sister Peggy Hiscock, the first woman minister in the Church of Zambia, who had been thrilled with the opportunities of spending a term at Wesley House. They had also had their first Roman Catholic student, who was an American preparing a thesis on John Wesley as a preacher. He had taken a full part in College life. Another American, Mr R. Ireson, had made a useful contribution to College life. One non-graduate was being given special coaching.


A gift of books on Methodism had been made by Miss Hilda Harrison to the library at Wesley House, which would be of great value. The Governors expressed their gratitude.


With regard to the future, there was a possibility of a French Methodist coming from the Ivory Coast. He is the President of the African Students’ Association in Paris, and if he came, it would be for the Lent Term, 1968.



Principal’s report December 1968

The Principal reported that Presidential duties had meant that he had been absent from College during the term.He usually managed to get back for Thursday and Friday, and he owed a debt of gratitude to his colleagues and to his students for the way in which they had all worked together to carry on during the term.


The Principal announced the results of the Theological Tripos and said that, all things considered, they had done quite well.


He mentioned the presence in the College of a Japanese Anglican, who is doing research into the work of F.D. Maurice. He had come on a World Council of Churches scholarship.


An older man, the Greek Archimandrite living in London, had come to Wesley House on the instructions of his superior and was trying, through residence, to get to know Methodist ways.


Miss Betty Benson of the Church of South India had come on a refresher course and gained a good deal from her time in Cambridge.


The Principal added that the Cambridge set-up seemed to be able to provide useful help without involving people in taking degrees,and he thought it would be good for some ministers to have a term’s refresher course.


Men in the third year were doing some research alongside practical work in the Circuit.


Students in the first year seemed to be of excellent quality and the Principal thought there were some potential leaders amongst them.


There had been no sit-ins or student protests. Perhaps one of the reasons was that students were kept too fully employed to have time to think about things on the periphery! The College was working happily together.


The chairman welcomed the Rev. Brian Beck and said what a great help it was to have him in the College.



Principal’s report December 1969

Dr. Rupp presented the Theological Tripos results of Wesley House men and declared himself satisfied with their attainments, not least those of Mr Mark Davies, who besides gaining a First had been awarded a special Fitzwilliam College Exhibition of £40 in respect of his excellent result.


Dr. Rupp made special reference to the debt the College owed to the Rev. Dr John Ziesler who had been teaching and researching at Wesley House for the past two and a half years, and acting as President’s Assistant for the second year of his stay. He asked that our thanks to be recorded in the minutes of the meeting. To this the Governors agreed. The meeting also agreed to Dr. Rupp’s request that a letter of appreciation and thanks be sent to the Conference of the Methodist Church in New Zealand.


Doctor Rupp reported that relations between Wesley House and Westcott House continued to develop.

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