The Papers of the Rev. Dr Rupert E. Davies

Scope and Content

During the course of a ministry lasting over fifty years, Dr Davies built up a large collection of papers reflecting his important contribution to British Methodism and the life of the World Church. The collection contains material relating to Dr Davies as an ecumenicalist, educationalist, minister, writer, Church historian and advocate of Church unity.

Since the deposit of the collection with the Methodist Archives in April 1995 by Mrs Margaret Davies, the papers have been arranged into sections which seek to reflect the several major aspects of Dr Davies's life and ministry while also preserving as far as possible the collection's original order. There is inevitable overlap in most areas which the researcher should bear in mind.

Two further deposits were made by Rev. Dr John Munsey Turner in 1996-7 a ringbinder containing lecture notes and a bundle of letters written from Davies to Turner.

Administrative / Biographical History

Rupert Eric Davies (1909-94) was born in London, the son of Walter Davies, a solicitor, and Elizabeth Davies. He was educated at St Paul's School, where he was a foundation scholar, and then at Balliol College, Oxford. He trained for the Methodist ministry at Wesley House Cambridge and spent 1934-35 at the University of Tubingen in Germany, where he observed first hand the excesses of the Nazi regime.

Davies served as chaplain at Kingswood School, Bath, from 1935 to 1947. He was ordained in 1937. After five years in the Circuit ministry in Bristol, he was appointed Tutor in Church History at Didsbury College, Bristol, and in 1967 became the first Principal of the newly named Wesley College, the result of the amalgamation of Didsbury and Wesley College, Headingly, Leeds. After stepping down as Principal in 1973, Davies returned to Circuit work until superannuation in 1976 whereupon he took up an appointment as Warden of the New Room, Bristol. After his retirement from that post in 1982, he remained active in Bristol ecumenical affairs and undertook several extensive overseas tours to lecture and preach.

Among the many committees and councils which Davies served on during his long ministry, was the Faith and Order Committee 1958- 70, the World Methodist Council 1951-76, the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches 1966-74 and the Anglican-Methodist Unity Commission 1965-68. He was Chairman of the Governors of Kingswood School 1975-83 and of Redland High School for Girls 1976-83. His standing within the Methodist Church was reflected by his election to the office of President of the Conference in 1970.

Davies was a prolific writer in the fields of Church history, theology and ecumenicity. His publications include: The problem of authority in the continental reformers (1946), Methodism (1963), Religious authority in an age of doubt (1968) and The testing of the churches (1982). He was also contributor to, and co-editor of the four volumes of A history of the Methodist Church in Great Britain.

Davies was married to Margaret Price Holt in August 1937. Mrs Davies has been a local preacher for many years and has served on many Methodist committees and groups. She has been very active in the Christian feminist movement and the campaign for the ordination of women into the Anglican ministry. They had two sons, two daughters and a foster-daughter.

Rupert Davies died at his home in Bristol in July 1994.


The collection is divided into nine series.

  • DDRd 1/- Personal/Biographical 1969 -1974
  • DDRd 2/- The Presidential Year 1970-1971
  • DDRd 3/- Publications, Literary Works and Reviews 1980-1994
  • DDRd 4/- The Church Overseas 1974-1992
  • DDRd 5/- Anglican/Methodist Conversations 1964-1971
  • DDRd 6/- Ecumenism 1973-1994
  • DDRd 7/- Committees and Councils 1970-1981
  • DDRd 8/- Miscellaneous 1980-1990
  • DDRd 9/- Additional Deposits of Material 1995

Access Information

There is in force a closure period of fifty years from the date of creation of manuscript items. This is in line with the policy of the Methodist Church and is intended to protect the privacy of individuals and the Church. Researchers wishing to consult closed documents should consult the Methodist archivist.

Acquisition Information

The Methodist Church.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue of the Collection was produced by Gareth Lloyd in 1991 The present catalogue has been produced to replace this with an ISAD(G) compliant catalogue.