John Wesley preaching at his father's funeral

Beginnings at Blanchland

It may give the impression that little has changed in centuries and life goes on much the same as it always has - but the Blanchland we see today is actually the result of an 18th Century residential development that grew out of the ruined abbey buildings.

When John Wesley preached in Blanchland on Tuesday April 24 1747, this is what he found:

I rode to Blanchland, about 20 miles from Newcastle. The rough mountains round about were still white with snow. In the midst of them is a small winding valley, through which the Derwent runs. On the edge of this the little town stands, which is little more than a heap of ruins. There seems to have been a large cathedral church by the vast walls which still remain. I stood in the churchyard, under one side of the building, upon a large tombstone round which, while I was at prayers, all the congregation kneeled down on the grass. They were all gathered out of the leadmines from all parts; many from Allendale, six miles off. A row of little children sat under the opposite wall, all quiet and still. The whole congregation drank in every word with such earnestness in their looks, I would not but hope that God will make this wilderness sing for joy.

More than 250 years ago, John Wesley was looking at the foundation stones of today's Blanchland; the abbey's layout would be preserved, but the stones themselves would be used to build homes for the families that came to hear him preach...