High House Chapel


“This is the country where the fires of Methodism took hold, fanned by an absentee Anglicanism. There are many chapels in these parts, many are early and handsome and Ireshopeburn is the best.”
 - Simon Jenkins, England’s Thousand Best Churches


High House Chapel

One of the first Methodist chapels

Built in 1760, High House Chapel, which up until 2019, held services every Sunday, making it the oldest purpose built chapel to be in continuous weekly use. John Wesley visited 13 times, and in 1772 witnessed an incredible revival of the work of God when the 'Fires of Methodism' took hold among the lead-mining population.

The 266 members then at High House accounted for over a quarter of the membership of the whole Dales Circuit.

The leadmining industry collapsed in 1882 leading to a dramatic fall in population which continued until the chapel finally closed in 2019.

High House Chapel, A Brief History

2019

The chapel closes and worship ceases

In mid 2019 the last Sunday service was delivered after almost 250 years of continuous use. The future is bright however, as the Trustees of the neighbouring Weardale Museum have recently bought the chapel with the aim of restoring it and opening it up to the public as an exhibition space.

1872

The chapel is extended

In 1842, local historian, Jacob Ralph Featherstone wrote: "The High House, on a Sunday afternoon is a spectacle worthy of beholding : here you may see assembled from six hundred to one thousand good-looking, fresh-coloured, and well-dressed persons of both sexes". The growing congregation led to the enlargement of the chapel in 1872.

1804

A house for the Preacher

In 1804, thirteen years after Wesley's death and nine years after their separation from the Church of England the society at High House attached a manse to their chapel for a resident preacher.

1771

The Revival, Wesley Visits

In 1772 Wesley investigated the causes of a huge revival in Weardale devoting 8 pages of his Journal to the event. The society increased to 120 members then more than doubled within months. High House became the biggest society in the enormous Dales Circuit.

1760

A Meeting House was built

By 1760 the society had outgrown the small cottages of its lead mining members and they purchased a small plot of land to erect and build a meeting house for divine worship”. Wesley visited 13 times altogether

1752

John Wesley preached under the thorn tree

A tiny society formed after hearing Christopher Hopper, one of John Wesley's evangelists, preaching in 1748, They met, first of all, in member’s houses and at the time of Wesley’s first visit in 1752 they gathered abroad (outside) beside the thorn tree to hear him.

Contact us

Weardale Museum
Hotts
Ireshopeburn
Bishop Auckland
DL13 1HD
Tel: 07990 786220
Email: info@weardalemuseum.org.uk


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