This Quaker meeting house in Northumberland gives a hint of how exceptionally sympathetic the North East was towards the rise of Nonconformist religions in the 1600s and 1700s.
John Wesley, father of Methodism, found the miners of Northumberland and Durham especially enthusiastic audiences and there are two chapels in Weardale with claims to be the oldest Methodist Chapel still in regular use. The Baptists are represented by a delightful chapel at Hamsterley in County Durham. Further north, the Presbyterians were particularly active and while the Society of Friends had its origins in the North West, the movement took root in the North East well before the end of the 1600s.
There are fine Quaker meeting rooms in Darlington for example, but Coanwood is special because of its situation, nestled in a farmyard high on the Pennine moors and because of its simplicity and perfection. It was built in 1760 and hasn’t changed since – a plain little room with bare wooden benches set in a movingly simple little graveyard.