Weardale Museum

Weardale Museum & High House Chapel

Conservation & Restoration
  • Enlargement of this small Museum to incorporate the adjoining High House Chapel
  • Built in 1760, the Chapel is the oldest Methodist Chapel in continuous use in the world
  • Lottery-funded project to provide accessible facilities in a new Visitor Centre
  • Major remodelling and upgrading to improve accessibility and energy demand

In Progress

A Brief History

In 1752 John Wesley made the first of 13 visits to Ireshopeburn in Upper Weardale and preached under a thorn tree just a few yards from where the Museum and the Chapel now stand. In 1760, a single storey meeting house was built to accommodate the rapidly growing congregations and by 1772, High House Chapel had the biggest society in the whole Durham Dales circuit

In 1804 a manse (house) was added to the west end of the Chapel to provide a home for the resident preacher. This is the building which is currently occupied by the Weardale Museum. In the photograph above, you can just see the shadow of the original roofline of the earlier Chapel on the gable end

With Sunday afternoon congregations often exceeding 600 souls, the Chapel was enlarged in 1872 by raising the roof and adding an internal balcony around three sides of the main hall

Weardale Museum and Chapel

After almost 260 years of continuous worship in High House Chapel, services ceased in 2019 and steps were put in place for the Weardale Museum to purchase the Chapel and expand the Museum

Early in 2019 new bold design were engaged to prepare feasibility studies for the expansion and modernisation of the Weardale Museum based on the Museum’s acquisition of the Grade II Listed High House Chapel. As well as including the Chapel building as part of the Museum space, the proposals also include improvements in accessibility and the provision of new parking facilities. A new building in the old car park will house a Visitor Centre to accommodate a reception area, accessible toilet and baby-change facilities, a café and shop, all linked with level access into the Museum

Discussions with the Council’s Planning and Heritage Officers are currently at the preliminary stage with sketch plans having been submitted in February 2020. The Museum’s purchase of the Chapel is still in progress and this is delaying imminent funding bids for the whole project

Grade II Listed High House Chapel

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