The Pace Quickens

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The pace continues. This week we saw the end of our part of the Rank building: you can now see through the gap into the court beyond.  Work now transfers to the more difficult task of getting up the foundations without affecting either the rest of the Rank building or the Chapel.  C staircase has also been cleared and the cycle shed and Jane’s garden are no more

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Jonathan Hurst, our conservation officer visited on Wednesday and viewed the exposed wall at the rear of No 31 Jesus Lane. Inside, on the first floor we have removed the bookshelves from what was Cindy’s study. This has exposed a set of cracks in the western wall which suggests that at some time in the past, there was a pitched roof extension over the area now taken up by the college entrance. Intriguing indeed! Jonathan has asked us to produce a report on previous buildings on the site so we are on the hunt for any early photos from the late 19th century before Wesley House was built.


This week also saw the organ back in action.  Johnsons the organ engineers, came out to carry out an overhaul and gave it a clean bill of health. We have installed a generator to provide the power to run it for services. The organ performed well in testing and should be ready for founders and benefactors on 12th November. We are also installing space heaters in the Chapel to keep it dry as the weather begins to cool.

Dr Dandala’s memories of Cambridge

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It is a wonderful thing to travel half the way across the world and find colleagues and friends. Jane spent this evening at the home of Mvume and Phumzile Dandala and was treated not only to good food and a kind welcome but also a collegial conversation about some of the challenges in higher education and the purposes of theological formation.

Mvume and Phumzile recall their time in Cambridge with great affection and wish to be remembered to many friends, amongst them, Brian Beck, John Barrett, Christina leMoignan, Keith Davies and Peter Ensor (now in Kenya). They were saddened to learn of the recent death of Geoff Cornell.

Since leaving Wesley House Mvume has worked pioneering mixed race circuits in Southern Africa and superintending the Methodist work in Port Elizabeth at the height of the struggles against apartheid, himself being detained. Subsequently he led the missions unit of the MCSA before becoming its presiding bishop and is now leading the MSCA’s new seminary into its second five years.

Reflecting on what the Wesley House experience offered to Mvume, he said:

‘Wesley House offered me a community of prayer; the intellectual rigour of the tutorial system; and the opportunity to be a black student in a mixed student body together with men and women from different parts of the world.’ Now, he seeks to model and teach a theologically informed leadership that is based on gender, racial and ethnic equality and justice; and to ensure that the new seminary produces church leaders and theologians who are able to contribute intellectually as well as practically to the huge task of nation-building in South Africa and to take their place on the world Methodist stage.

There are striking resonances between Mvume’s experience of Wesley house, his vision for SMMS, and the Wesley House Trustees’ vision for the future on which we hope to build a lasting future partnership.

Jane Leach celebrates prayers with Seth Mokitimi Seminary in South Africa

The long-standing relationship between Wesley House and the Methodist Church of Southern Africa was celebrated this morning in 8am prayers at Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary. Its President, Dr Mvume Dandala, paying tribute to his education at Cambridge in the 1970s, teased the students that there is only one theological college in the world greater than SMMS and that is Wesley House! Dr Leach paid tribute to what she in turn, learned from Dr Itumeleng Mosala when he was teaching in Cambridge in the 1990s and spoke about the importance of global Christian formation.
Morning prayer involved a good deal of rousing singing in various South African languages including a fabulous rendition of “And can it be!” and the annual celebration of the life of Seth Mokitimi, the first black President of the South African Conference. Students reflected on his persistence, wisdom and prophetic leadership.

Almost gone!

Wesley House development

A busy week, as you can see from the photograph. The east end of the Rank building is now down to the mezzanine floor and that will go on Monday. Those of you who lived in flats 2-8 can see the door to our corridor in the top right hand corner. We are shipping out three skips full of rubble every day now. At ground level, we can no longer get to the Chapel from No 32 so I have agreed access arrangements with Jesus from their end of the college using the car park as an entrance.

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A 19th Century Bodge Job?

Wesley House development

When we began designing the new academic building to replace the eastern end of the Rank building, there was an idea that we would strip away the back wall of No 31 Jesus Lane to leave a beautiful 18th century brick wall, which would serve as natural backdrop to the main stairs.

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Coming down

Wesley House development

These photos give you a good idea of how much progress has been made, even though demolition only started three weeks ago. It is odd to look at the facade of the entrance way and to see blue sky where the end of the Rank building used to be.

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First Valuation Meeting

Wesley House development

We held our first valuation meeting with the contractor on Wednesday. The project is on target and indeed, slightly ahead in certain areas. We have now cleared all the rooms in No 31 and 32 Jesus Lane and are starting to clear the corner classroom and C Block. First phase work on the Principal’s Lodge is complete apart from a few sensitive items such as removing the original slate in the pantry.

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Wesley House – the start of a new chapter

Prof Ian White, Master of Jesus and Prof Judith Lieu, Chair of the Wesley House Trustees

At a formal gathering in the Dining Room at Wesley House Cambridge on Thursday 17th July, Prof Judith Lieu and Dr Derek Nicholls signed and exchanged contracts with the Master and Bursar of Jesus College. The contract returns the freehold of the Wesley House site to the ownership of Jesus College and leases back 40% of the site to the Trustees of Wesley House for redevelopment.

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Hidden secrets

Wesley House development

As we peel away the late 20th Century structures and reveal the original buildings underneath we start to find all sorts of interesting features and questions. For example, this downpipe is clearly original but is only ten feet long so that it drains onto the patio of what was Flat 30 – a 1970s construction.

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