Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County Durham (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NY 90552 38033



1842/19/302 WESTGATE 05-JUN-87 Westgate Primitive Methodist Chapel

II* Primitive Methodist Chapel with attached school room constructed in 1871 by George Race Junior and Atkinson, incorporating parts of an earlier C19 chapel. Constructed of coursed and squared sandstone with ashlar plinth, quoins, dressings, and roofs of welsh slate with end chimneys.

PLAN: building is parallel to the main road through the village and of side entry plan; the chapel is principal entry plan with the pulpit to the west and main entrance to the south east, There is an attached school building to the east in the same materials.

EXTERIOR: FRONT (SOUTH) ELEVATION to main road. Main building has 5 bays and 2 storeys under a pitched roof of welsh slate; it has a chamfered plinth and cornices to the first floor and eaves. There are original paired doorways in the east end bay and a single one in the west end bay with keyed round arches on pilasters; all contain 5-panelled doors with fanlights. The ground floor windows are square-headed with raised plain surrounds and the first floor windows are round-headed in similar style to the doors. All windows have aprons. Above the lower windows, there are a series of eroded inscribed panels. The windows retain their original glazing with coloured margin lights. Adjoining the chapel to the east end, and set slightly back, is a contemporary school house of 3 bays and two storeys; the detail of the windows on the ground and first floor are similar to those of the chapel but without aprons and there is an identical round arched doorway in the easternmost bay. The rear elevation is plain with round arched windows above and square headed windows below. The rear of the schoolroom has evidence of blocked windows and a stone external stair.

INTERIOR: access to the body of the chapel is gained through a 4-panelled door leading from a full width, narrow entrance lobby at the east end of the chapel. Lobby also contains two stairs, with moulded newels and turned balusters, which rise to gallery level. The ground floor walls are painted plaster above a boarded dado. A double row of pitch pine pews run down the centre, with single rows on either side of an aisle; pews have shaped end panels with painted numbers. Slim, modified Corinthian cast iron columns support a full gallery on all sides, also retaining similar seating. The columns are decorated to give the appearance of marble, with some stencilling and gilded capitals. The columns are carried up through the gallery to form upper arcades at balcony level. The communion rails are carried on patterned cast-iron uprights, which enclose the centrally placed dais, which has a panelled front with patterned cast ironwork in a quatrefoil pattern with steps to one side. The organ, which is not original, is situated above the pulpit at gallery level in the area formerly occupied by the band. To either side are curving doors with brass handles giving access from the chapel to a pair of small vestries with a store in-between. The vestries are panelled to half height, with wooden benches; one has a fireplace and the other an external door. Access to the gallery is via panelled doors with twisted brass handles. The gallery has a cast iron projecting balustrade to match that of the dais front. At the western end of the gallery, the front row has a rail supported on short brass columns, probably indicating choir seating. The coved ceiling has large panels, which have stucco leaf decoration in the corners, cornicing and elaborate ceiling ventilator roundels. The attached schoolroom has matchboard panelling round the walls, with a line of coat hooks on the east wall. An original wooden stair rises in the south-west corner to the first floor schoolroom, now a private apartment. There is a small kitchen off the north west corner of the schoolroom.

MEMORIALS: south wall bears a tablet to George Race and Nathan Race. Memorial tablet fixed to cast iron gallery front commemorating those who fell in the Great War. Roll of honour on north wall of schoolroom.

HISTORY: Westgate has a long history of Primitive Methodist worship and was a principal centre for Primitive Methodism in Weardale. It was the site of an early camp meeting in 1823, the field in which this was held still bears the name 'Camp Meeting Allotment'. The first chapel was built at the west end of the village in 1824; the present chapel, known as West End Chapel, was built in 1871 to accommodate 500 people, and was designed by George Race Junior and Mr. Atkinson at a cost of £1300. The schoolroom attached to the east end of the chapel incorporates the rear and west walls of the earlier C19 chapel; the external stair against the rear wall suggests that this may have been a first floor chapel.

SOURCES: P. A. G. Clack and K. E. Pattinson: Weardale Chapels Durham (1978) 78; P. F. Ryder: Nonconformist Chapels and Meetinghouses in the Northumberland North Pennines AONB (1998); C. Stell: An Inventory of Nonconformist chapels and meeting-houses in the North of England, RCHMS (1994).

SUMMARY: This Primitive Methodist Chapel and attached schoolroom were designed by George Race Junior and Atkinson in 1871. The east end of the schoolroom incorporates part of the shell of the earlier C19 chapel. The chapel is of more than special interest for the fact that it retains its Victorian form in its entirety. It has a full compliment of pews in both the gallery and the ground floor, and original windows throughout. Its complete interior displays high quality artistic merit illustrated in the nature of its metal and plaster decorative detailing. It is exceptional in the intactness of both its exterior and interior, which have survived with very little alteration from the early nineteenth century. The attached day school is itself of special interest. These factors combine to produce a chapel of more than special interest in a national context.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Clack, , Pattinson, , Weardale Chapels, (1978), 78
Stell, C, An Inventory of Nonconformist chapels and meeting houses in the North of England, (1994)
Ryder, PF, Nonconformist Chapels and Meeting Houses in the Northumberland North Pennines AONB, (1998)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 26 Mar 2002
Reference: IOE01/04564/26
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Bob Cottrell. Source Historic England Archive
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