Sadly, Newbiggin Chapel – the oldest Methodist Chapel in continuous use in the world – is to close this summer. The Music at the Heart of Teesdale (M@HoT) project, with the help of funding from Teesdale Action Partnership, have organised a special concert on Saturday 18th March to mark its closure. Award-winning youth folk band Cream Tees will be performing some of their ‘Tunes from Teesdale’ which they have been working on this term with their tutors, Niamh Boadle and Anna Hughes, from Newcastle University’s Folk Degree course.
The tunes have been gathered together by researcher Mike Bettison as part of the M@HoT project over the past five years. They are all now freely accessible to view on the M@HoT website – see here. “One of the tunes Cream Tees will be performing is ‘Raven’s Feather’,” Mike said. “It has a beautiful melody and was collected by the famous English composer, Ralph Vaughan-Williams, in 1911 when he visited the workhouse in Barnard Castle. Niamh has done a great job to turn the piece of music that has amazingly survived in Vaughan-William’s own handwriting into a tune and arrangement for our all young musicians to play.”
Mike, together with Rosie Cross, will also be performing their unique and humorous ‘Notes from Teesdale’ at the concert which also draws on material from his Teesdale folk database. Along with a performance from Niamh and Anna, other special guests will include founder Cream Tees band members Rachel and Fiona Todd, a young folk duo who are starting to spreading their wings and are now rapidly gaining a name for themselves through their performances locally. It promises to be a wonderful afternoon’s entertainment on a very poignant occasion.
“The Newbiggin Chapel Council are delighted to host this second concert from Cream Tees – an association that was born in a Teesdale hay meadow!” said Alan Farrar, the Chapel Secretary. “We are only sorry we cannot repeat the occasion next year as the chapel is scheduled to cease worship on 24th May this year.”
“We are very grateful to the Chapel Ladies who will be serving proper cream teas at the interval,” added M@HoT project co-ordinator, Neil Diment. “We are especially grateful to June Luckhurst who has organised everybody!”
The concert starts at 2.30pm. Suggested donations of £5 – to support the work of M@HoT – are welcome on the door. Please note, if coming by car, there is NO parking at the chapel. It’s best to plan to arrive early and try to park by the village hall, 5mins walk away.