Wesley’s congregation in the North Pennines were attracted by the offer of ‘salvation for all’ and they dedicated their lives to God and His church. Members of the society have included women like Jane Salkeld “a great instrument of work among the children”; Anthony Race, a travelling preacher who walked barefoot 15 miles over the mountains to preach in Alston, and Joseph Race who gave his life as the first medical missionary to China in 1880. There have also been generations of men and women who have served as Trustees, Class Leaders, Sunday School Teachers, Lay Preachers, Exhorters, and Property Stewards.
In 1884 the Trustees at High House Chapel bought a beautiful organ. Ask about the tragic circumstances which brought this about.
Sit in this beautifully serene, light and airy chapel, look out of the plain clear windows onto sheep grazing the mountain pastures and imagine how, 250 years ago, this was a place of extraordinary Methodist activity and zeal.
To learn more about the fascinating story of Wesley, his evangelist preachers and the lead mining members of the early society you need to visit.
Wesley organised Methodism into rounds (circuits) with a senior travelling preacher in charge. In 1772 Jacob Rowell superintended the Dales Circuit which stretched across the whole of the North Pennines. Rowell’s notebook records 27 societies and 1003 members in the circuit with a staggering 266 members belonging to High House.
He became fond of his “loving Society in Weardale” visiting 13 times altogether, usually on horseback, and making his final visit in June 1790 just eight months before he died.
“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. Much pains are dedicated to the singing and music, and the appointed minister on this occasion delivers his crack sermon.”
Jacob Ralph Featherstone
Weardale Men and Manners, 1840