New Hope - High House Chapel, Upper Weardale
After a survey on one of the world’s oldest Methodist chapels revealed thousands of pounds worth of structural repairs were needed, it became clear that High House Chapel in Upper Weardale was at risk of closure. This was a huge blow to the community in Ireshopeburn who decided to do all they could to keep the 18th-century building open. High House Chapel is also home to the Weardale museum.
The fund-raising initiative, Friends of High House, was launched and the West Durham Methodist Circuit became managing trustees exploring all possible options to enable Weardale Museum to acquire the building. "I am confident that we can find a way of continuing a Methodist presence and witness within the community," said the superintendent minister of the circuit, Revd Christopher Humble.
It is hoped the building will become a centre to promote both Weardale and Methodist Heritage and also host concerts and other public events.
Friends of High House chair, Rachel Swaffield, said: "I think this is probably the best possible outcome given the inevitable difficulties of maintaining an historic building when it begins to deteriorate. The museum would be worthy custodians for the future as they have an interest in preserving its history in the dale and in Methodism, being able to place it in the context of the wider history of the area while celebrating the chapel's unique story. We will be excited to work with both the local circuit and the museum trustees in raising the necessary funds to secure the building for future use as a community asset and as a place of worship."