This commanding building with its castellated frontage was built in 1848 as a Presbyterian Church. Over the years it has had various owners and occupants including the Cooperative Society and a carpet warehouse company, and has been used for many events: tea dances, leek shows, weddings, the occasional funeral, Christmas parties; at one point soldiers were billeted here. Approximately forty years ago it was purchased by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and renamed The Kingdom Hall. [I would be delighted to receive any further information about the history of his building.]
For a decade after my husband, Ian Stephenson, died in 2000 I had been looking for a building to house some of the large canvases which were still in his studio. One was forty feet long . . . I had often gazed, from the Duddo bus as it crossed the New Bridge into Berwick, at the strange stone building with its turrets, wondering what it could be. By a happy coincidence I walked through Tweedmouth one day and there was a FOR SALE notice on the front. When I first went into the building I recognised its size and potential and immediately made an offer. It took over two years to finally own the building and to acquire planning permission. Those two years gave me time to reflect on the final use of the building. Although primarily an exhibition space for Ian’s paintings there was room to have art shows, recitals, music and even a small private recording studio.
This is my house and entrance is by invitation but I would like to provide an opportunity for all age groups to take part, thereby becoming much more creative themselves whilst finding their own levels of achievement. The Stephenson paintings hang like a massive frieze around the top of the gallery. Since last September there have been over twenty exhibitions of work by other artists. They take their place below the Stephensons with ease. All blend within the space.
I am living the dream.