How to find
Coanwood FMH (Ordnance Survey NY70995893) is about 2.5 miles along the road from Coanwood village to Whitfield. Leave the A69 at Haltwhistle to Coanwood. Turn left at Coanwood crossroads to Whitfield. Follow signs to Whitfield - watch for a sharp left turn to Whitfield at a T junction. You will pass Hargill House, then cross a small new bridge. Coanwood FMH is signed on your right at Burn House, a large farmstead. Enter over the burn bridge and park by the barn – please respect the farmstead and its livestock. The Meeting House is open – if not, then by telephoning 01434 320256.
A single storey stone rectangular building - 13.1 metres long by 6.2 metres wide - and the date 1760 is inscribed on the lintel above the door in the south side. The original 18th century roof was covered by heather-thatch. However, it was replaced early in the 19th century by one with a double course of flagstones above the eaves, Welsh slates, and a stone ridge. There are three original windows on the south side, all with 12 panes. Attached to the front of the east wall is an earth closet.
The interior has a stone flagged floor and is divided into two by a panelled wooden screen. The larger room to the west is the main meeting room with a central aisle dividing seven rows of open-backed wooden benches facing west. At the west end, two additional rows face the other seven and are raised – sometimes called Elders’ benches.
The smaller room to the east has a fireplace in the centre of the east wall. At one time, this room was used by the Coanwood Reading Society, and there was once a small library in the meeting house with loan records going back to 1824.
an historic Quaker
The Burial Ground
a sloping walled graveyard to the front of the building with headstones
dating from well back in the 19th century. Many gravestones
bear witness to the connection between Coanwood Friends Meeting House
and the Wigham family.
The Wigham Family and
Wighams are a well known family in this part of Northumberland.
Although their name is first mentioned in 1539, their early history
becomes clear only a century or so later.
In 1657, the manors of East and West Coanwood were conveyed to Thomas Wallace of Ashholme. One record then indicates that Cuthbert Wigham bought both manors for £300 in 1659. However, another record indicates that Mathew Wigham - son and heir of Cuthbert, who died in 1673 - was lord of only East Coanwood in 1676, West Coanwood still being owned by the Wallace family.
Mathew Wigham and his wife, Alice, had at least four sons and four daughters. Mathew left his property to his second son, William, when he died in 1702 as the oldest son, another Cuthbert Wigham, had already died. Little is known of this William Wigham except that he married Mabel Hutchinson, and died in 1715. Their first son and William’s heir was also called Cuthbert. There is a record that this Cuthbert, in his early years, “took pleasure in loose and unprofitable company, delighting in vain sports”.
But, in 1722, Cuthbert married
Elizabeth Dixon and, about 1734, joined the Society of Friends
(Quakers) which was already well established in Allendale. He then
founded a meeting of the Society of Friends in Coanwood and, in 1760,
the present Meeting House was built at a cost of £104 on a plot
of land given by Cuthbert. This Cuthbert Wigham died in 1780,
having sold the family’s manorial rights in 1758.
Quakers and Coanwood FMH
Each year in September, Hexham Quaker Meeting holds a Meeting for Worship and Family Picnic at Coanwood FMH. Friends from Northumbria Monthly Meeting and Carlisle Monthly Meeting join with Hexham to worhsip in the atmosphere of a plain and simple historic Quaker Meeting House.
The HCT was established in 1993 to take into ownership redundant chapels and other places of worship in England which are of outstanding architectural and historic interest. The object is to secure their preservation, repair and maintenance for public benefit, including contents, burial grounds and ancillary buildings. HCT's remit embraces Nonconformist chapels, Roman Catholic churches, synagogues and private Anglican chapels. HCT buildings are usually graded I or II* on the statutory lists. HCT is also helping to foster greater understanding of its buildings through research, the production of publications and publicity about its activities.
St George's German Lutheran Church