NY9038 : Former Wesleyan Chapel, Westgate

taken 11 years ago, near to Westgate, County Durham, Great Britain

Former Wesleyan Chapel, Westgate
Former Wesleyan Chapel, Westgate
Previously the North Road Wesleyan Chapel and Caretakers House, built in 1791 by masons from Haltwhistle, now converted into three cottages NY9038 : Cottages in Westgate

In about 1748, Christopher Hopper, a Methodist preacher from Allendale and close associate of Wesley, came to Westgate. He records that he ‘preached under the crumbling walls of an old castle at Westgate to a few women and children who looked hard at me’. This is traditionally regarded as the first Wesleyan sermon preached in Weardale, and the North Road Chapel, built in 1791, is said to stand on the very spot where Hopper preached.

The size of these chapels in Weardale is a sign of the strength of the Methodist movement and the much larger population of the times. After the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists re-united, the chapel was sold in 1937 becoming, to local outrage, a dance hall.

Undated old photos in the Beamish Museum People's Collection LinkExternal link LinkExternal link
Slitt Wood & West Rigg Geotrail

The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) became the first area in Britain to be awarded the status of European Geopark in June 2003 and was a founding member of the Global Geoparks Network in 2004.
LinkExternal link

The three mile Geotrail from Westgate north along the Middlehope Burn including the lead mining area of Slitt Wood and West Rigg Opencut.
An audio-visual guide can be downloaded here:
LinkExternal link

In 1997, Low Slitt became a scheduled monument protected by law and classified as of national importance. In 2008, a partnership between the landowner, Natural England and English Heritage was formed to consolidate the site and preserve the remains.

West Rigg Open Cutting SSSI LinkExternal link

Methodism in Weardale

Weardale is noted for almost 400 years of Christian religious dissent or nonconformity.

The 'Old Dissent' of the mid-C17th which saw the rise of Baptists LinkExternal link and Quakers or Society of Friends LinkExternal link had little lasting influence on upper Weardale.

The 'New Dissent' of the mid-C18th though had a huge following. John Wesley, who remained an Anglican clergyman, and his followers, preached widely in the dale after 1740 and set up a strong Methodist movement among the working people. Large Wesleyan Chapels were built in many centres along the valley. Those in authority largely stayed with the Anglican Church but noted the peaceful and crime-free nature of the religious people.

In the early 1800s Primitive Methodists, popularly known as 'Ranters', revitalised the movement among the working class. Preaching was often in the open air but large chapels were also built, often co-existing in the villages with the existing Wesleyan Chapels, which had more of a genteel following.

By the end of the C19th, both strands of Methodism were in decline, along with the end of the lead industry and population movement out of Weardale. The two groups re-united in 1932 usually agreeing to keep just one of the two chapels in each village.

Taken from The Archaeology and Architecture of Weardale by Caroline Hardie and Niall Hammond. The Weardale Society (2007).

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NY9038, 244 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Friday, 13 May, 2011   (more nearby)
Friday, 13 May, 2011
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Village, Rural settlement  Housing, Dwellings  Religious sites 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NY 9071 3829 [10m precision]
WGS84: 54:44.3695N 2:8.7487W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NY 9071 3826
View Direction
NORTH (about 0 degrees)
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Cottages  Methodist Chapel  Road  Cars 

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