Bowlees Primitive Methodist Chapel Teesdale Co Durham

Built in 1845 this chapel was last used for worship in 1968

Inside the current building there is a stone dating it to 1868. This would indicate that this was the second chapel to be built on this site. However on the front is the date 1904. Perhaps this indicates an alteration to the building as over the years it has undergone many changes particularly since 1968. It first became a visitor centre in 1975. It was used by the Durham Wildlife Trust at one time and closed again in 2011. Then in June 2013 was re-opened as a Visitor Centre and cafe by North Pennines AONB partnership.

Photos taken September 2013

OS Map Ref:92:NY907282

Editor’s note (CH 02/20)

The return to the Census of Places of Public Religious Worship shows a preceding chapel with substantial attendance on Census Sunday.

Comments about this page

  • The Primitive Methodist magazine for December 1868 pp.746-747 contains an account by Henry Yool of the opening of what he describes as the third Bowlees Primitive Methodist chapel. As before, the Duke of Cleveland and his agent Mr. W. T. Scarfe had shown great kindness. The foundation stone was laid in September 1867 by Miss Bainbridge of Middleton House.

    Capable of holding 500 people, the chapel was opened on 10th October 1868. A public tea was held, after which Rev. W. Antliffe delivered a lecture. The following day, he “preached two effective sermons to crowded audiences”. The following Saturday, 17th October, a second tea was provided, after which a public meeting was addressed by the Circuit ministers Rev. H. Yool and Rev. J.E. Carmichael and others.

    The premises were valued at £700, but £500 had already been raised by the efforts of the congregation, collections and donations. The hope was expressed that a series of revival meetings would to the conversion of many sinners.

    It would appear, then, that the cause at Bowlees erected their first chapel in 1846, extended it in 1852, rebuilt in 1868, and the building as we now see it was renovated in 1904.

    By Philip Thornborow (18/07/2020)
  • Bowlees might be the nearest chapel, although Forest (Ebenezer) could also be a contender. The page on this site about Forest in Teesdale provides information that looks more promising. The Statistical Returns for 1970 tell us that it seated 102 people, had a schoolroom, and opened in 1881. Comparing nineteenth century and modern OS maps, the old Baptist chapel appears to have been at NY875291, 700 yards from High Force. When the wind was in the right direction they could probably hear it!

    By Philip Thornborow (15/04/2020)
  • The 1881 Primitive Methodist magazine (page 381) contains a note of the opening of a new Primitive Methodist chapel in “the upper part of the beautiful and romantic valley of the River Tees” to replace the ivy covered Baptist chapel beside High Force they had previous used.
    The “active and energetic” society had “held a good position in the valley for nearly 60 years”
    What it doesn’t say is where that chapel was. Bowlees is the nearest to High Force, but the 1881 date does not fit other information on this page.
    What do you think?

    By Christopher Hill (15/04/2020)
  • The Primitive Methodist magazine for September 1852 pp.561-562 contains an account by George Crowther of the re-opening of an earlier Bowlees Primitive Methodist chapel.  This chapel was opened on 18th January 1846.  The society outgrew the premises and permission to extend was obtained from Mr. Scarth, land-agent of his grace the Duke of Cleveland. Work started in May 1852 and the chapel was made 12′ longer and could then accommodate 264 people.  The total cost was £35 and the overall debt no more than £40.

    The chapel was re-opened on July 18th 1852 with sermons by JP Tiplady and Mr R Shields the Superintendent.  ”The day being remarkably fine, the chapel was crowded with attentive hearers”

    By Christopher Hill (10/02/2017)

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