Workman, Dr Herbert Brook
1862-1951; e.m. 1885

WM minister and scholar, born in Peckham, London. He was educated at Kingswood School and Owen's College, Manchester, where he gained a first in Philosophy. He was Assistant Tutor at Didsbury College 1885-88. After 15 years of circuit ministry, in 1903 he was appointed Principal of Westminster Training College, a post he held until retirement in 1930. His tenure witnessed a great improvement in academic standards and closer relations with the University of London, of which he was a Senator. As Secretary of the Education Committee 1919-40, he fostered the growth of Methodist residential schools, notably Hunmanby Hall and Culford School, and oversaw the transfer of Southlands College to Wimbledon. He was President of the Conference in 1930 and at the Methodist Church Congress in 1931 gave an address on Bible Reading.

As one of Methodism's greatest church historians, specializing in the Medieval and Reformation periods, his publications included Christian Thought to the Reformation (1900), The Evolution of the Monastic Ideal (1913) and widely acclaimed biographies of Wyclif and Hus. He gave the Fernley Lecture in 1906 on Persecution in the Early Church and was Cole Lecturer at Vandebilt University, Tenn. In 1916. As one of the editors of the New History of Methodism (1909) contributed a chapter on 'The Place of Methodism in the Catholic Church'. He received a DD from Aberdeen University in 1914. He died at Wimbledon on 26 August 1951.


'At college, neither my friends nor I warmed greatly to the Principal, Dr. Workman. He seemed such a remote, eccentric figure. But I owe him much. Apart from his theological insights, he broke down for me, through historical geography, the sharply compartmentalized terms in which I saw those subjects. Sussex University has been extolled as a pioneer in breaking down subject barriers, but Dr. Workman did this forty years before. He influenced, too, my attitude to work. Again and again he referred to the worst of the seven deadly sins, acidae, or sloth. How he railed against this! How he blasted human velleity, inert aspiration, hope without effort, faith without work! To be committed to something worthwhile, he argued, to give your time and energy to it, is a duty, but a duty that brings immense satisfaction.

Chalk up the Memory: the autobiography of Sir Ronald Gould (1976) pp.26-7

  • Conference Handbook, 1930
  • Methodist Recorder, 30 August 1951
  • David M. Chapman, In search of the catholic spirit (Peterborough, 2004) pp.90-92
  • Oxford DNB