Coxhoe`s Religious Heritage

“Religion in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a powerful force which cut across
barriers of social status and wealth. “Norman McCord ‘North East England 1760 – 1960”
In the early 1800s when Coxhoe was a small hamlet it had no building dedicated to religion.
The village was divided into two parishes –Bishop Middleham to the west side of the turnpike road
and Kelloe to the east.
The Primitive Methodists purchased two cottages at Foundry Row for worship and as a day
school, although they had existed before this date.
Coxhoe’s first Wesleyan Chapel, with day and Sunday School, was built at Wesley Place.
The Temperance Hall was built at the west end of Foundry Row.
“Coxhoe was constituted a separate parish… formed out of the two parishes of Kelloe and Bishop
Middleham”. F Whellan 1894.
Anglican “Services were held in a miner’s cottage then in the Temperance Hall”.
from A History of Coxhoe- by Robin Walton
A new Primitive Methodist Chapel was
opened, known as the Central Methodist
F. Whellans, 1894 describes it as “a plain
brick building with cemented front, built in
1865 at a cost of £355 and will seat 230.
Adjoining is a good Sunday School erected in
Coxhoe’s first Roman Catholic chapel, dedicated to Our Lady and St. Patrick, was founded in the
two dwelling houses in Foundry Row formerly used by the Primitive Methodists.
Roman Catholics had previously been served by the church at Sedgefield or the new church at
Trimdon from where Father WK Farmery ministered to the people of Coxhoe.
Foundry Row, no longer standing, was at the
heart of Coxhoe’s religious heritage. Anglicans,
Primitive Methodists, Roman Catholics,
Salvationists and Temperance Society all met in
that area at some time in their development.
St. Mary’s Anglican Church was opened.
“The church, which stands within a burial ground on the west side of the road is a stone building
in the Gothic style with ornamental east window ….. It was erected in 1868 at a cost of £2,500
and will seat 460. The living, a vicarage, is valued at £300, with house …. Vicar Rev. David
Fleming B.A.. The vicarage is a fine house of stone situated about half a mile from the church.” F
Whellan 1894
The exterior of St. Mary’s was built from
local stone (Cassop) and it has a
number of fine features - Mouseman’
Thompson’s woodcraft, the east
window is a memorial to those who
died in the Great War and there are
many memorials to churchgoers and
prominent villagers e.g. Clara Wood of
Coxhoe Hall.
Photograph courtesy of Frances Valks
A new Wesleyan Methodist building, named
St. John’s was erected in the village centre .
It was described by Whellan as “an imposing
brick building in Italian style, with massive
stone portico and ornamental front…. at a
cost of £800 and will seat nearly 400 people!”
A Sunday School was added in 1894.
The Central Methodist Chapel closed and St.
John’s was adapted to form St. Andrews
Church in 1964 when Coxhoe’s two Methodist
churches amalgamated. This was replaced
with a new building in 2008.
The early closure of the village’s coal mines had affected the village’s population. Grand plans to
build large churches were affected by this trend - St. Mary’s Church had a planned capacity
(pre1868) of 700. The actual capacity was 458, Primitive Methodist Chapel membership in 1873
was 126 - in 1879 it was 28.
An influx of people from Ireland increased the
Roman Catholic congregation. As a result
the Catholic Chapel at Foundry Row was
closed and a new church, St. Patrick, St.
Joseph and St. Cuthbert was consecrated at
West Cornforth to serve Roman Catholics of
West Cornforth, Coxhoe and Kelloe.
The West Cornforth building was demolished
due to mining subsidence and the Roman
Catholic Church of St. Joseph’s was built in Coxhoe
Photograph courtesy of Dennis Gavin
In the late 19th and early 20th Century the Salvation Army had much to do in Coxhoe. Formed
nationally in 1865 by William Booth it worked to
help the poor and preach the Gospel to them.
They first met in the Temperance Hall at Foundry
Row then moved their meetings to ‘The
Tabernacle’, a tent close by. Later they moved to
a NISSEN hut to the rear of Panico’s shop
opposite West Parade.
The photograph shows a soup kitchen adjacent to
their hall with West Parade in the background.
Photograph from John Chalk Collection
The Hall was closed in 1939 and Coxhoe’s
Salvationists now worship at the West Cornforth
“Two evangalists belonging to the Plymouth Brethren, Foggarty and Linton travelled round Durham
County” (from ‘A History of Coxhoe’ by Robin
Initially they ministered from a tent at Cornforth
Lane. This was replaced by an ex army hut in 1922
closed in 1964.
Photograph from Brian Hall Collection
The Industrial Revolution provided many challenges to society and churches but marked
the heyday of religious participation. The influence of our churches was profound and
enduring. Coxhoe’s rapid growth demanded a sense of community.
The churches responded.
Long before education was compulsory in 1870 local children accessed education in local
churches. Many children are recorded as scholars in the Census returns of 1841. At one time in
the 1870’s the Central Methodist Church Sunday school had 140 pupils and 18 teachers.
While mining communities could contain
‘ungodly folk’(McCord) the churches and
chapels provided community leaders in many
fields including politics. The members of our
churches and chapels were sincere and
devoted. The good example they set
influenced others.
Catholic Parish Trip photograph courtesy of Dennis Gavin
Men worked long hours, women often had large families and homes were often crowded with
basic living conditions. Life was uncertain at home and at work. In these times of adversity
Coxhoe’s churches offered purpose and consolation.
The churches provided sisterhood, women’s
missionary, Mother and Craft clubs, music,
sporting, drama, dancing, recitations,
entertainment, scouts, guides, boy’s brigade
and youth activities. Families went on church
excursions which were a real treat. Their
contribution to community cohesion was
'The Prims Tennis Party’
Reproduced by permission of Durham County Record
Office Ref: D/Cl 27/278/411
From The Northern Echo 29 Dec 1884 issue 4634
“An exhibition containing a large variety of works of art and numerous objects of interest, ancient
and modern, is now being held in the primitive Methodist Schoolroom, Coxhoe.”