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North-west of Middleton-in-Teesdale, this was the oldest Methodist chapel in the world in continuous Methodist use until 2017. Its earliest deed is dated 30 August 1759, the trustees being three of the itinerants and four local lead miners. The chapel became the focal point of Methodism in Upper Teesdale. The pulpit from which John Wesley preached on his visits still stands in one corner of the chapel. The centenary was marked by the renovation and enlargement of the building. A Sunday School building with two small flats above was added in 1882-83. The bicentenary in 1959 was featured on television, with Dr. Norman H. Snaith, then President of the Conference, as visiting preacher. When the Bowlees chapel closed in 1969, the amalgamation of the two societies was marked by the transfer of the organ, pulpit and communion rail from Bowlees. In 1985 the Sunday School building was sold to help finance a further renovation of the chapel, which re-opened on 6 November 1987 and remains a place of pilgrimage. It celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. By 2014 its future as a heritage site was under discussion and it eventually closed in July 2017.

See also Dales Circuit


From the 1759 Deed:

'The Christian Society or Congregation of Protestants dwelling within the limits and boundaries of Newbiggin in the county aforesaid and commonly called Methodists who from time to time assemble themelves for performance of Divine Worship… being destitute of a meeting house or place of Worship… have requested the said Christopher Hopper, Matthew Lowes, Jacob Rowel, Thomas Allinson, Johnn Ridley, John Spence and James Ainsley to purchase of and from the said Robert Robinson a piece of ground to Erect and Build a meeting house or place of worship, for the said society in the exercise of their religious worship.'

John Wesley's Journal:

June 1772: 'We rode to Newbiggin-in-Teesdale. The people were deeply attentive; but, I think, not deeply affected.'

June 1784: '[From Cotherston] we rode through rain and wind to Newbiggin-in-Teesdale. Being but a poor horseman, and having a rough horse, I had just strength for my journey and none to spare; but after resting awhile I preached without any weariness.'

  • A. Steele, History of Methodism in Barnard Castle and the Principal Places in the Dales Circuit (1857)
  • Newbiggin-in-Teesdale Methodist Chapel: Bi-centenary Celebrarions: Souvenor Brochure [1959]
  • George W. Dolbey, The Architectural Expression of Methodism (1964)
  • Harold L. Beadle, The Beginning of Methodism in Upper Teesdale and the Story of Newbiggin Chapel (1980)
  • Mary Lowes and Lorna Tallentire, Newbiggin Chapel, its continuing place in history (2005)
  • Mary Lowes, Newbiggin Methodist Chapel 1759-2009 - To serve the present age (2009)
  • Methodist Recorder, 31 October 2014, 14 July 2017

Entry written by: JAV
Category: Place
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