In Wesley’s footsteps (6): Snow Hill

Snow Hill

Snow Hill looking eastwards towards St Sepulchre church

Modern day Snow Hill is a rather featureless street descending from Holborn Viaduct past the west door of the church of St Sepulchre to Farringdon Street, which runs along the old Fleet valley. In John Wesley’s day the Fleet was still an open river (or more accurately, an open sewer) and the valley considerably deeper; as a consequence Snow Hill was much steeper than it is today. From St Sepulchre the road curved down to the Fleet, which it crossed over Holborn Bridge before climbing up Holborn Hill to High Holborn. Although steep and twisting, Snow Hill was nevertheless the main road for traffic travelling west from the City of London out of Newgate and had been since Roman times.

Wesley must have travelled this road hundreds of times as he made his way from London to Bristol and other points west, presumably without incident. On one occasion, however, he met with an accident, which he relates in his Journal:

Monday, August 22, 1743 (London).–After a few of us had joined in prayer, about four I set out, and rode softly to Snow Hill; where, the  saddle slipping quite upon my mare’s neck, I fell over her head, and she ran back into Smithfield. Some boys caught her and brought her to me again, cursing and swearing all the way. I spoke plainly to them, and they promised to amend. I was setting forward when a man cried, “Sir, you have lost your saddle-cloth.” Two or three more would needs help me to put it on; but these, too, swore at almost every word. I turned to one and another and spoke in love. They all took it well and thanked me much. I gave them two or three little books, which they promised to read over carefully.

But this was not the last mishap on what was turning out to be an eventful day:

Before I reached Kensington, I found my mare had lost a shoe.

And so for the second time that evening Wesley found an unexpected opportunity to share the Gospel:

This gave me an opportunity of talking closely, for nearly half an hour, both to the smith and his servant. I mention these little circumstances to show how easy it is to redeem every fragment of time (if I may so speak), when we feel any love to those souls for which Christ died.

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About Holloway Rev

Paul Weary is a Methodist minister living and working in Holloway, North London.
This entry was posted in History, London, Methodism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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