How to find

Coanwood FMH

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.

The Exterior

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

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.






Meeting House


an historic Quaker Meeting House
built in 1760

The Quaker Meeting House at Coanwood stands in a remote upland valley, to the south of Hadrian’s Wall. There are many walkers’ paths nearby. Coanwood is one of the oldest of only a few Meeting Houses left in Northumberland. It is historically important as it has not been modified since it was built in 1760. There is an older Meeting House at Allendale, for example, but it has been modified. Coanwood FMH is Listed Grade II* and is now owned and cared for by the Historic Chapels Trust.

The Burial Ground

There is 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 Coanwood FMH

The 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.

Hexham 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.


Historic Chapels Trust (HCT)

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
55 Alie Street,
London E1 8EB
Tel: 020 7481 0533



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