Keld URC Chapel

The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof

Our Church

Keld Church Information.

Keld Chapel is small but beautiful as can be said of the population it serves.

Visitors are always welcome to come into the chapel to pray, meditate or simply to rest weary feet in a sheltered and peaceful atmosphere after a hike across the fells. Christian literature is available to read. Many come through its door as evidenced by the numerous and appreciative comments written in the visitors’ book. The design and furnishings are typical of Nonconformist chapels of the area. Singing is accompanied by an American Parlour Harmonium built in the early 20th century.
Integral with the chapel is what used to be the manse which is now a holiday let and also used by Ministers in Residence.

On the 6th of June 1561 Ralph Alderson left in his will twelve pence for the priest at Keld to pray for his soul. The Reformation was in full swing, Mary Queen of Scots was denied entry to England and the first Calvinists sought refuge in this country. Before that we do not know how long there had been a church building or priest at Keld. “Keld Chap” features in a map of Yorkshire by Christopher Saxton in 1577 and again in map drawn by John Speede in 1610. A map of 1646 show “Keld Chu” and “Birkdale Chap” further up the dale. In 1696 there is an invoice for 5 shillings and ten pence for walling up the chapel door. By 1722 “Keld Chapelle” had no roof and slate and timber had been stolen.

There is an account that at some unknown date a riot within the chapel raged with such severity that the chapel was ruined. The story goes that during a service a stranger came in and shouted out loud that he would give anyone tuppence to help him buy a calf. He could not be persuaded to keep quiet and a fight broke out. Others from outside came and joined in and the stranger took the opportunity to slip away unnoticed and was never seen again.

What has no whiff of legend about it is that in 1789 a Mr Edward Stillman, an itinerant preacher, visited Muker and Keld. He stood in the centre of the ruined chapel that was overrun with weeds, planted his stick in the ground and declared ‘Here will I have my Chapel and here will I preach the Gospel.’ He built a modest chapel with two adjoining rooms, one was a school where his wife was the teacher and the other his home. In 1818 he rebuilt the chapel and manse and purchased adjoining land for a burial ground. He soldiered on with failing health after the death of his wife in 1830 and he died on 22nd of March 1837, 48 years after vowing to build a chapel and preach the Gospel in Keld.

Since the time of Edward Stillman the chapel has been in constant use as a place of Christian worship

Our minister, Revd Julie Martin retired at Easter 2013. We are very grateful to her for her faithful ministry at Barnard Castle, Low Row and Keld. We wish her and her husband Peter a long and happy retirement.

We have been very fortunate in the newly formed Tees/Swale Pastorate to welcome as our new pastors for the five churches of the pastorate Revd Hilary Collinson and her husband Revd Stephen Collinson who take up their duties at the beginning of August 2013. 

Keld Chapel Roll of Ministers


1789 – 1837    Edward Stillman

1837 – 1838    William Sedgwick

1838 – 1866    James Wilkinson

1866 – 1867    George Waddington

1867 – 1871    Joseph Woollard

1871 – 1874    Thomas Slevan

1875 – 1879    William Woodburn

1879 – 1884    Jonathan Balme

1884 – 1887    William Henry Wilcock

1887 – 1899    William Crombie

1899 – 1903    Henry Vasey

1904 – 1905    Thomas Baron

1906 – 1908    Thomas N Oliphant

1908 – 1911    William Prothero

1912 – 1915    Joseph Atkinson

1916 – 1917    Arthur L Critchard

1917 – 1926    Henry Vasey  (second term)

1926 – 1927    J W Roberts

1927 – 1931    George MacDonald

1931 – 1933    Walter Gunton

1935 – 1942    Arnold Francis Mee

1943 – 1946    Fred Whitlock

1947 – 1951    Norman K Soar

1951 – 1957    C Sinclair

1957 – 1959    John T Lyman

1960 – 1965    John D Legg

1967 – 1981    Kenneth W Wadsworth

1981 – 1986    Stanley Wilton

1986 – 1995    Peter I Poulter

1996 – 2004    Gillian M Bobbett

2005 – 2013    Julie S Martin

2013 –            Stephen and Hilary Collinson

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Serving the communities in Tees and Swale.