The Weardale Museum


Hotts, Ireshopeburn, Bishop Auckland, DL13 1HD

01388 517433

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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.

High House Chapel

Visit the Chapel

The oldest purpose built Methodist Chapel in continuous use.

The Wesley Room in the Weardale Museum

1752 - Wesley preached under the thorn tree to hundreds of onlookers

1760 A Meeting House for Divine Worship was built for a growing membership.

View our Gallery High House Chapel frontage

Join the congregation for service


The Society at High House welcomes everyone to join them at their regular


Sunday services at 10.45am


Visit as part of an organised Church Group


Organise a pilgrimage on behalf of your church group or bring your own minister to conduct a special service.




Deacon Sue Peat 01388 528245



See the Chapel  as part of your visit to the Museum


The chapel is not a Museum piece but the Church Council and Museum Trustees welcome people who wish to enjoy it's serene beauty or want to know more about the history and heritage of the Methodist movement.


During their regular opening hours,




Enjoy a talk about the Chapel, its history and Its connections with John Wesley as part of an organised group visit to the Museum.




David Heatherington

01388 517433

“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

The Wesley Thorn Tree is just 30 metres from the Chapel.

A Brief History

The Manse is now The Weardale Museum.

1771 A huge revival brought Wesley to investigate whether it was genuine or counterfeit.

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.

Superintendent Jacob Rowell wrote the membership in his notebook. New balcony, new pulpit and in 1884 a new organ Wesley visited 13 times.

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,

The leadmining industry collapsed in 1882 leading to a dramatic fall in population.


High House now has a small but faithful membership.


We tell the story of the Chapel, the society and John Wesley inside the Weardale Museum preserving the chapel as a place for worship and meditation.

1804 - A house for the preacher.

1872 - A bigger chapel.

Today - Still going after all these years.

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

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.

The oldest purpose built Methodist Chapel in continuous use ? Yes.


The New Room in Bristol (1738) is the oldest Methodist building but it was sold to the Calvinist Methodists in 1808 only to be returned in 1929.


Osmotherley Chapel (1754) was used as a school in the nineteenth century.


Keenley Chapel was two cottages before converting to a chapel in 1750.