When Chapel House was built in the 1960's, J. T. Bell built for a 'Community'. The streets were arranged around a central amenities site including shops, doctors surgeries, a dentist, a clinic, a community association, a pub, schools and also a church. The real community – the people – came from all over Newcastle and beyond.
It was a time when home ownership became a possibility for many whose families had never experienced such opportunities in previous generations. Many young families took up residence. The schools were filled, there were long waiting lists for the scouting and guiding organisations and the church Sunday School had 200 children! A large number of those first residents still live here.
The estate was, for a while, the largest private housing estate in Europe. It was built on a hill beyond the western boundary of the city on the arable and pasture land of Chapel House Farm. It is believed that the farm was named because in the late 1770's it became a 'safe' house beyond the city where people could gather to hear John and Charles Wesley as they travelled the north and preached to the working people.
The Romans shaped the local landscape in the 2nd century when the Emporor Hadrian commissioned the Wall between Wallsend and Solway. Every mile of wall had a Milecastle, one of which was sited near the hilltop. Our local primary schools adopted the names Milecastle and Knop Law (which means 'attractive hilltop').
The image below is of Denton Hall Turret, facing West, courtesy of English Heritage.
The land which is now Chapel House and Chapel Park was originally in the Parish of Newburn. St Michael's and All Angels, the Parish Church of Newburn, is one of the oldest churches in the diocese and is our 'mother' church historically. Newburn Church was built in 1170 to replace the older Saxon church which burned down in 1070. (In March 2006 the church suffered another catastrophic fire and is currently being rebuilt. It is due to re-open in the spring of 2008.)
The growth of communities
In the nineteenth century, church 'planting' became essential with the growth of mining communities. Holy Saviour in Sugley, built in 1873, and St John's in Whorlton, built in 1899, were originally 'chapels of ease' for Newburn to serve the mine-workers' families in Sugley and Westerhope. When the new parish of St John's Whorlton was formed, Chapel House farm came into its care.
Local mining also left its mark in the form of the old waggonway (above left), the pit heaps, including the Barbondale open recreational space, and Blucher village (above right) with its well-loved Methodist Chapel.
When Chapel House Estate was built a new church was needed to serve the incoming families. At the same time Newbiggin Hall was expanding and a church was built to serve that community. Both communities were part of St John's parish so the Whorlton Team was formed comprising St John's, Holy Nativity and St Wilfrid's. In 1996 the team was disbanded and two new parishes established alongside St John's, Whorlton - St Wilfrid's, Newbiggin Hall and Holy Nativity, Chapel House.
The image below shows the current Holy Nativity parish. The church is marked with the red dot!
The first residents of Chapel House were keen to make their new community work. People worked tirelessly to establish and develop the Chapel House and District Community Association (CHADCA) and the Church of the Holy Nativity. Everyone contributed something. Some of the founders of these community resources are still active members.
Newer housing developments
Chapel Park, St John's, Abbey Grange, Abbey Farm, Milecastle Court, Dumpling Hall and Lemington Rise have grown up around Chapel House and residents use the facilities at the heart of Chapel House. These estates spread across 4 wards in the city of Newcastle – Denton, Newburn, Westerhope and Woolsington.
The image below shows Abbey Farm estate viewed from the Barbondale open recreational space.
Today, the heart of the community still beats. The shops, clinic, church hall, church and surgeries have suffered the effects of wear and tear, not least from the wild westerly winds which prevail across the hilltop. Community consultations since 2000 have led to a significant regeneration of the site. A long awaited new health centre will be built to house the medical and dental practices.
New church facilities have replaced the old hall with the help of BIG Lottery and grants from many other charitable trusts. Community Peace Gardens have been established around the church with the help of local schools, Newcastle Council of Faiths, Newcastle Council, SITA and Ballinger Charitable Trust.
We continually work together with community groups to help maintain a pleasant and safe environment for residents.
Holy Nativity is committed to working with the community and its representative groups to develop new services and community initiatives. Holy Nativity Community Advisory Group meets regularly to oversee and organise developments and community events. Denton and Westerhope Wards, the Community Patnerships and local schools are represented.
The Community Project is up and running thanks to the generous support of Big Lottery and many other trusts.
Please see our 'Outside In' section for progress details.
Holy Nativity Community Peace Gardens are now open - a place to sit and relax, to find a peaceful moment, to enjoy special memories, to enjoy the plants and appreciate the garden features designed by our local children.
It is official! The impossible is possible. Anne Marr, aged 61 and first time ever runner for anything, successfully completed the 13.1 miles in 2 hours 45 minutes. Encouraged by Carolyn Lawson, chief cheer-leader, Anne ran to raise awareness, hopes and funds for the 'Outside In' Community Project. Over £10,000 was raised.
Read more about this in our Great North Run pages.
The mat was made from strips of old clothes in a way which was common for the mining and working class families of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Visitors to the Westerhope Heritage Festival in August 2008 contributed to the making of the mat, which is now hung in the Westerhope Community Association building (the former Westerhope Miners Institute).
Read more about the Westerhope Heritage Festival (Adobe PDF required).
Holy Nativity Parish belongs to three wards: Denton, Newburn and Westerhope. Details about each of the wards and the councillors can be obtained from the Newcastle City Council website, or click one of the three wards on the map above.
Community Partnerships exist within each ward to represent local community groups. They are not affiliated to any political group and are organised by the representatives of the community groups involved.
Any group can send representatives. They meet several times a year and are able to address local issues and facilitate action through their Councillors and/or the Ward Committees.
Councillors are invited to Community Partnerships but cannot vote. Holy Nativity is represented on Westerhope Community Partnership.
Holy Nativity enjoys good relationships with the local schools. Recent community newsletters and open meetings have been generously supported by Knop Law and Milecastle Primary Schools.
At the church's birthday 'Open Day', both schools contributed eye-catching and informative displays about Fair Trade made by the pupils. The schools visit the church for special services and also as part of the national curriculum teaching programme.
Knop Law Primary School
Headteacher: Mrs Pauline Dutton
Milecastle Primary School
Headteacher: Mrs Lynn Rae
This is a long established comprehensive school which serves the west Newcastle area, taking students from 11 to 18 years of age and also running evening classes for the community.
All Saints College
This school for 11 to 18 year olds has a strong reputation for encouraging responsibility and community values. It has a unique governing structure involving three equal partners: Newcastle Local Authority, Newcastle University and Newcastle Diocese. The local churches have worked with All Saints College on occasions such as the 'Make Poverty History' campaign. Rev'd Andy Bowden (St John's Parish) serves as the school chaplain.
Westerhope and District Churches Together
Worship and special gatherings are organised for Christian Unity Week (January), One World Week (October) and other events.
All Faith Communities Meetings
Members of different faith communities meet occasionally to share thoughts and concerns on local, national and international issues, and to offer prayers from our different traditions. Faith groups represented are Baha'i, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh.
Newcastle Council of Faiths, chaired by the Bishop of Newcastle, seeks to support and develop mutual understanding in the city, which has always maintained good inter-faith and inter-cultural relationships.
You will find a warm welcome to the fellowship which meets every first and third Wednesday of the month in church.
Contact: Margaret Cathey via church.
Chapel House and District Community Association (CHADCA)
CHADCA Ladies Club meets in CHADCA every second Tuesday of the month at 2:00pm. You are welcome to join them to hear invited speakers, share social time and participate in events and outings.
Contact: Mrs Gladys Brown via CHADCA.
Westerhope Local History Society
The Westerhope Local History Society meets at Westerhope Methodist Church on the third Monday of each month from September to May at 7:00pm. Talks of local interest are generally illustrated and visitors are welcome to attend. Details of the meetings are available at local libraries and several local shops. Over 2006-2007 membership has numbered between 85-100.
Contact: Tom Peacock.
MAGS (Mature Action Groups, Denton, Westerhope)
Contact: Ward Co-ordinator
Contact: Peter Short
Contact: Anne Marr
Newcastle Carers Centre
Contact: Newcastle Carers Centre
Contact: Newcastle Branch
Clinic Health Group
This is a small group which meets weekly in the clinic – details from the clinic office.
If you are a involved with a group which contributes to the welfare of the local community and you wish to be represented on this website, please contact us.
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