John Wesley's House and Museum holds a wealth of curiosities, whether or not you're interested in the history of Methodism — the Christian denomination he helped to found in the 18th century. In fact, many people pay John a visit just so they can pay his john a visit.
This most elegant of gents toilets can be found through a door just inside the main entrance of the City Road centre of Methodism. A short flight of stairs leads down to a room unchanged since Victorian times.
A row of eight cubicles extends along one wall. Each cedar-wood box contains an original Thomas Crapper 'valveless water preventer', installed in 1899. The cisterns are held on cantilevers decorated with a TC monogram.
Note the hefty toilet seats, which merge into the surrounding superstructure. This not only looks elegant, but also allows you to raise the seat without fear of getting somebody else's piddle on your palms. Very practical.
Opposite the cubicles, a bank of antique urinals fills the remaining wall (see image up top). Each is formed from red and black marble. They look good enough to eat, though that would be a really bad idea.
A mosaic floor leads round to the hand basins made from the same red marble. After cleansing your soul in the chapel above, these are perfect for a more secular wash.
The ladies toilets were fitted in more recent times and are not so ornate. Women are, however, welcome to take a look inside the gents, so long as discretion is used.
Wesley never had the pleasure of using these facilities, of course. He died in 1791, over a century before the luxurious lavs were installed. He might also be surprised at the adjacent chapel. Heavily restored after a fire in Victorian times, it is far more ornate than his tastes would have sanctioned.
The toilets are a joy to behold, and free to visit during the building's public opening hours. It would be a shame to stop by solely for a quick flush, however. Be sure to head downstairs into the museum of Methodism, which does an excellent job of presenting the movement in a way that'll hold interest to people of all faiths and none.
The chapel and Wesley's tomb are also free to visit, and be sure to take a tour around Wesley's former home. This separate building has been preserved with such authenticity that it still lacks running water. It's not a problem. Those who are caught short only need to head next door for one of the most remarkable toilets in London.
Wesley's chapel, house, museum, tomb and toilet are all free to visit without appointment, Monday-Saturday 10am-4pm and worship on Sunday. 49 City Road, EC1Y 1AU.
Images by the author and David Whittaker.