Chapel_Information

Chapel with a concert standard organ in a romantic upland setting.

The attached school has artists studio accommodation.

Revd John Fawcett the celebrated Baptist preacher, poet and theologian was minister here.

Wainsgate has its origins in the eighteenth-century Evangelical Revival. Its founding was heavily influenced by the preaching of the Reverend William Grimshaw, incumbent of Haworth Parish Church and a charismatic religious reformer. The first chapel was established about 1750. Dr John Fawcett, the revered Baptist preacher, came to Wainsgate in 1764 and is commemorated in the church. It is he who wrote the Baptist hymn, ‘The Tie That Binds’.

The present building of 1859–60, is of hammered stone with ashlar dressings in a robust classical manner.

The chapel interior was furnished in the 1860s and later enhanced in the 1890s. From the earlier period remain the curved gallery and pewing, and from the later a magnificent octagonal pulpit in coloured marbles and alabaster with low reliefs by Anthony Welsh. The communion table of 1896 has barley-twist legs. The stained glass is by Powell Brothers of Leeds.

The organ loft arch retains its original decoration. In the niche a fine concert-standard organ survives; though in need of restoration it is still played.

Attached to the church is the former school, started in 1834, of 1890 which was adapted from the former Pastor’s manse. The large burial ground rising up the hillside from the chapel contains Fawcett’s grave, marked by a listed monument of 1771 and several World War I graves. The burial ground is still open for burials.

A fully illustrated History and Guide to Wainsgate Chapel by Charles Thompson is available from the chapel or from HCT for £6 post free (cheques to ‘HCT’).

A first phase of urgent repairs was completed in 2011.  The works included  repairs to keep the building weather-tight.  Completion of a full restoration is being planned, subject to funding being found, so that the building will be able to host a variety of events.

Artists basic studio space is available in the school building adjacent on licence for reasonable rents.

GETTING THERE

By car, take the Keighley road out of Hebden Bridge. Drive up hill to Pecket Well (2 miles). On entering Pecket Well, take the sharp right signed to Old Town. On entering Old Town (½ mile) turn right at the signed cross road and park in Old Town Mill Lane. Walk back and across the crossroads, up the un-made track for approx 300 yards. Wainsgate Baptist Church stands alongside in a large burial ground.

The nearest rail station is Hebden Bridge, on the Leeds–Manchester Victoria line (via Halifax and Rochdale).

There are two bus services from Hebden Bridge Rail Station to Old Town that stop next to the cross roads, near the chapel.

Other HCT buildings in the area are Todmorden Unitarian Church and Farfield Quaker Meeting House.

Wainsgate Lane
Old Town
nr Hebden Bridge
HX7 8SU
United Kingdom

Events

To enquire about putting on an event at Wainsgate please contact us

Artists Studios

Artists studio spaces, with very basic facilities, occasionally become available on licence in the School rooms attached to the chapel. Contact us for availability.

Burials

Please contact Vivienne Cooling at the HCT for details of rights of burial.

Guidebook

A 32-page, well illustrated History and Guide to Wainsgate is available from HCT at, c/o CCT, 8 All Saints Street, London, N1 9RL, for £8.00 including post and packing. Please make cheques payable to “Historic Chapels Trust”.

Wainsgate Chapel Website

Wainsgate Chapel facebook page

Salem – short for ‘Jerusalem’ – Chapel in East Budleigh dates from 1719.

It is a square 18th-century roadside chapel just outside the village of East Budleigh, built for a Presbyterian congregation, later an Independent worshiping community. It is built of cob – that is rammed earth – and stone and is square in plan and has an attractive interior with a gallery and many old pews and fittings.

Salem  – short for ‘Jerusalem’ –  Chapel dates from 1719. It was originally a Presbyterian chapel but later housed an Independent congregational meeting for many generations. In the 1980s it was briefly owned by the Assembly of God.

The building is square with a four-hipped roof. The walls are largely of stone and cob, now rendered. There is a datestone “Salem chapel, built 1719” and a window cill inscribed “enlarged 1836” when the seating capacity was augmented.

Inside, the gallery across the front end dates from 1719. Two others were added in 1836 and are supported on slender cast-iron columns with moulded caps. The roof structure is of special interest: the vaulted ceiling rises from a single central post – a structurally daring solution that means the square chapel is open and light-filled. Originally of timber, the central post was replaced in the nineteenth century by a cast iron one. This in turn has now given way to a stronger modern steel column as cast iron is fragile, especially in fire. When the cast-iron post was removed a purse containing coins and other items was found in its footings.

You can download a short guide to Salem Chapel here.

Historic Chapels Trust rescued Salem from almost-dereliction.

The chapel was in a state of imminent collapse and nearly lost forever due to rampant rot in the roof structure. Historic Chapels Trust raised £700,000 in grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England, foundations and other supporters. Major structural repairs and restoration was completed in 2006.

GETTING THERE

The nearest rail stations are Exmouth (5 miles) or Exeter (12 miles).

An hourly Stagecoach Devon bus service no. 157 from Exmouth bus station to Sidmouth stops by the chapel.

Two cars can park immediately by the chapel gate and there is a lay-by for 15 cars on the B3178 just east of the chapel but please be careful as you walk back and cross the road.

You can download a short guide to Salem Chapel here.

IN THE AREA

Sir Walter Raleigh was born in the parish of East Budleigh in 1552 and the village with its two pubs and handsome old All Saints Church is an attractive base from which to explore the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.  Bicton Park Botanic Gardens are just outside the village and A La Ronde, a remarkable 18th circular house owned by the National Trust is a short drive away, near Exmouth.

Vicarage Road (at the junction with B3178)
East Budleigh
nr Exmouth
EX9 7EF
United Kingdom

Visits by prior arrangement with our volunteer keyholders: (01395) 741 033 or (01395) 446 189.

The chapel is available for hire for blessings and events. It has a WC and small kitchen in the detached former schoolrooms where there is also a meeting room for up to 15 people.

Contact us for details and availability.

Salem Chapel’s Facebook page

The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes was built in thanksgiving to God for the light bombing of Blackpool and surrounding areas during the Second World War. 

The Shrine, designed by architect Francis Xavier Velarde, was built between 1955 and 1957 with funding from local parishes. It is one of very few post-war churches listed Grade II*.

The Shrine of our Lady of Lourdes was built as a war memorial thanksgiving chapel between 1955 and 1957.  It was designed by Francis Xavier Velarde (1897-1960) and its construction was funded by contributions from local parishes.  Velarde built more than a dozen churches and chapels, all but one of them for Roman Catholics. Velarde was interested in blending historic styles freely in a way that is nevertheless of its time. His designs were thought eccentric by many during his lifetime; today he is highly regarded for his originality and distinctive style.

The Listing description states that the Shrine has  “a perfect, diminutive jewel-like quality that transcends conventional church formulas.” 

The chapel is clad with Portland stone externally and has a copper roof, ornamented with four statues of saints, one at each corner. There is a large scale relief of the Trinity on the facade above the entrance by the sculptor David John. 

A first phase of repairs, costing £100,000, was completed in April 2008. This consisted of repairs to the leaking copper roof and re-designing a defective rainwater disposal system.

In 2015, thanks to funding from a number of trusts and foundations, we were able to replace the electrical system which had been disconnected as unsafe.

There is a great deal still to do to bring this wonderful building back to its former glory. We now need to raise approximately £400,000 to complete repairs and introduce new facilities, which will ensure the building can host a wider range of suitable community activities and occasional services of worship.

If you would like to help us to restore the Shrine, please do make a donation or even leave a legacy which will have a lasting and memorable benefit.

GETTING THERE

The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes stands on Whinney Heys Road, close to Stanley Park and Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

It is difficult to park very close to the chapel, due to double yellow line parking restrictions. There is a multi-storey car park further down Whinney Heys Road.

IN THE AREA

Stanley Park is a short walk from the Shrine, it has a visitor centre and an Art Deco cafe. The Friends of Stanley Park organise a range of events including heritage guided tours of the park.

You can download a short guide to The Shrine here.

Grid Reference: SD332368

Whinney Heys Road
Blackpool
FY3 8NP
United Kingdom

Visitors should ring our keyholder in advance to arrange to get access: 01253 865770.

The Shrine does not have fixed pews so can be used very flexibly; in recent years it has been used for exhibitions, fashion shows and a range of other events. 

If you would like to hire the Shrine for an event please contact Vivienne Cooling at the HCT.

A humble community church built immediately before Catholic worship was legalised in anticipation of a change in the law.

St. Benet’s Chapel was opened in 1793 and is a rare survival of a Catholic church built for a poor community. The chapel is small and of limited architectural ambition but is poignant evidence of the troubled history of Roman Catholicism in this part of England. Erected after the Catholic Relief Acts of 1778 and 1791 when Catholics were at last allowed to worship openly, a low profile was still considered appropriate.

The chapel is mostly hidden behind the attached presbytery. After ups and downs over 180 years it finally became redundant when the new and much larger St Benet’s church was built in the 1960s. Sold off, and put to a succession of uses, the building was a semi-derelict builder’s store when taken into the care of the Historic Chapels Trust. Some of the interior furnishings have been lost and others stored for restoration. Important survivals including the gallery, the early 19th-century altar and a “pilastered and pedimented altarpiece which has winged cherub heads, a gloria of rays and Adamesque urns and garlands of the type that many churches of the Establishment could boast before the zealous efforts of ‘ecclesiological’ restorers”.

HCT has raised grants and donations of over £250,000 so far to repair the structure of the chapel and the presbytery. A third phase of repair works to the exterior and parts of the interior was completed in Spring 2012.

LOCATION

The chapel stands diagonally opposite the new Roman Catholic Church in Netherton which is at the northern edge of the Liverpool conurbation, close to the A5207 near Sefton.

There are no toilet facilities on site. The Presbytery is now in private occupation and the residents do not hold keys.

St Benet’s Catholic Chapel
Chapel Lane
Netherton
L30 7PE
United Kingdom

The chapel is currently closed for self-guided visits. For group visits contact Vivienne Cooling at the HCT.

You can download a Quick Guide to the chapel here.

Unfortunately, St Benet’s is currently not available for hire.  HCT would like to recruit a local keyholder to facilitate visits. If you might be interested in serving as keyholder please contact us.

St George’s is the oldest surviving German Church in the British Isles, opened in 1762. 

German speakers – mostly religious refugees from the German speaking lands not yet united as modern Germany – ran most of the sugar refining industry in London and this was based in the area around Aldgate, where St George’s church is sited. 

Today only the church and its former school adjacent are left to remind us of this huge refugee population in an area once called ‘Little Germany’. The history of this part of London is one of successive waves of immigration: Huguenots, German speakers, Jews, Bangladeshis. Today the German episode in this story is far less known even though Aldgate and Whitechapel was home to the largest German speaking population outside the German lands for over a century.

Project; Survey of London – Whitechapel. Site; St George’s German Lutheran Church, Alie Street, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets, London. Exterior, view from south.

St George’s dates from 1762–3 and is now the oldest German church in Britain. It served as a religious centre for generations of German immigrants who worked in the East End sugar refineries and in the meat and baking trades right up until the First World War. The area around Aldgate was known as ‘Little Germany’ and for much of the 19th century was  the largest concentration of German-speaking people outside the German homelands.

Inside, the church retains remarkable furnishings, including a complete set of box pews and fine, central double-decker pulpit. At the ‘east end’ hangs the coat-of-arms of King George III (pre-1801) and two carved timber commandment boards in German. The Royal Arms, adopted by the congregation as a mark of loyalty, recall a connection with the Duchess of Kent, mother of Queen Victoria, who was patron of the adjacent German and English schools from 1819. There are 18th and l9th-century memorials, many in German, and a fine German Walcker organ.

During the Nazi period in Germany, St George’s pastor, Julius Rieger,  worked strenuously to assist  Protestant Christians of Jewish descent (and therefore deemed to be Jewish and persecuted by the Nazi regime) to flee to England. Led by Julius Rieger, St George’s also provided a spiritual home and much needed ongoing practical support to Protestant refugees already in the country. Fortunately correspondence survives in several archives and the full extent of Pastor Rieger’s work is now being recorded by a London based Phd student. The leading theologian and anti-Nazi activist Dietrich Bonhoeffer was also associated with the work of St George’s when Bonhoeffer was pastor at the nearby St Paul’s church from 1933 to 1935. The former congregation marked the centenary of Bonhoeffer’s birth with a special service in 2006.

The Church is a Grade II* listed building and was acquired by HCT in 1999. 

HCT tackled its long-standing disrepair and serious structural problems discretely, so that most people are surprised that nearly £1m of restoration work was carried out. Works were generously funded by Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

You can download a short guide to St George’s here.

GETTING THERE

St George’s German Lutheran Church is 3 minutes from Aldgate East Underground and 5 minutes from Aldgate Underground.  Many bus routes pass nearby. Fenchurch Street and Liverpool Street rail stations are both a 10 minute walk.

There are two steps into the Church. A ramp is available for wheelchair access to ground floor. There is no lift to the gallery and organ on first floor. Parking in neighbouring streets is severely restricted, including Sundays, so public transport is recommended.

IN THE AREA

There are nearby places of worship connected with immigration to central and East London including Bevis Marks Synagogue the oldest surviving synagogue in the UK which is open for visits at certain times, Sandys Row Synagogue which can arrange guided tours for groups and which occupies a building formerly a Huguenot chapel. East London Mosque is a short walk away. So too is Christ Church Spitalfields an internationally celebrated building by Nicholas Hawksmoor, built for the Church of England, partly in reaction to the nonconformism and religious dissent of East London.

55 Alie Street
Aldgate
London
E1 8EB
United Kingdom

St George’s is open by arrangementfor group visits and with notice we try to provide a volunteer speaker to talk about the building.

Check the HCT Events page for upcoming activities, or visit the St. George’s website.

St George’s is registered for religious marriages in the German Lutheran tradition and the service can be conducted in German or English at the couple’s choice. To enquire about getting married at St Georges please contact us.

Family history records of the congregation have been deposited for conservation and safe-keeping at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

The church was designed by Edmund Ware and Edmund Rathbone and opened in 1899.

Behind its plain exterior is a remarkable interior, rich in English Arts and Crafts furnishings, which are very rare in a Nonconformist chapel.  There are fittings by many Art Nouveau craftsmen associated with the Bromsgrove Guild, including a fine reredos of Birkenhead ‘Della Robbia’ ware that was designed by Harold Rathbone.

The church today known as Wallasey Unitarian Church is more fully Liscard Memorial Unitarian Church, Wallasey.  It was designed by Edmund Ware and Edmund Rathbone and opened in 1899; it is Grade II* listed on account of its Free Style and Arts and Crafts fittings. The reredos, a triptych of Birkenhead ‘Della Robbia’ ware, was designed by Harold Rathbone. It is signed and dated 1899.  You can read more about the reredos in our Explore section.

The exterior architecture of the church and integral hall is deliberately secular and un-ecclesiastical and though handsome does not prepare one for the fittings inside.

Walter Gilbert, a founder of the Bromsgrove Guild, designed the decorative ironwork and the porch detailing was sculpted by Benjamin Creswick. The intention behind the decoration was to portray religious themes in a fresh artistic language.

HCT has completed a major repair of the church and hall and upgraded its facilities for modern usage. The hall is used by Wallasey Ballet School.

Repairs to the roof were completed in 2016, funded by a number of generous trusts and foundations.  We are now raising funds for essential repairs to the interior.

If you would like to help us to restore and maintain this wonderful Grade II* building you could become a volunteer or make a donation.

Visiting

The building is used by Wallasey School of Ballet, so visits for groups are welcome by prior arrangement only. The exterior is visible from the street. To arrange a group visit please contact Vivienne Cooling at the HCT.

Disabled access is available by lift. WC.

You can download a Quick Guide to Wallasey Unitarian Church here.

Getting there

The nearest MerseyRail stations are Wallasey Village or Wallasey Grove Road, from where buses connect to Liscard town centre, 3 minutes walk to the church in Manor Road.  Car parking in adjacent streets.

Nearby

Explore Wallasey at the History of Wallasey website which will guide you to interesting buildings and history of the area.

Liverpool is just 30 minutes or so away by public transport (MerseyRail services Wallasey Village to Liverpool Lime Street).

Manor Road
Liscard Village
Wallasey
CH44 1DA
United Kingdom

Open for visits by prior arrangement.

The Church is registered for Unitarian Marriages. Contact us for details.

The church is available for for lectures, exhibitions, AGMs and meetings subject to Ballet School uses. To enquire about hiring the Church please contact Vivienne Cooling using the contact us page.

See inside Walpole in 360°

Look inside this incredible space created from two houses for secret Puritan worship.


Walpole Chapel was created from two domestic buildings in the late 17th century.  The galleried and box-pewed interior vividly conveys the setting of 17th and 18th century dissenting worship. Much of the interior is wood and there are not too many right angles in this much evolved building. The atmosphere is both peaceful and powerful.

Suffolk Puritans transformed this pair of timber framed 16th century farmhouses into a simple but dramatic religious building, radically different from the established churches from which they had broken away. It is an interior designed for nonconformist worship without ceremonial. All was straightforward and simple. They took out ceilings, widened the roof span and supported it with lofty wooden columns (one of them a re-purposed ships mast). From the discarded timbers they built pews and galleries for two hundred people, the sightlines converging on the central canopied pulpit.

Outside is a grassy burial ground, now closed for burials, with many low headstones and over 40 species of wild flower. The grass is left uncut in Spring and early summer to encourage them.

A quick guide to Walpole Chapel can be downloaded here.

The conversion of the two 16th century buildings into one space was achieved by removing walls, creating a wonderful space, but resulting in an inherently unstable structure.

HCT has undertaken a programme of discrete structural repairs at Walpole to enable the chapel’s use for concerts and other events during the year. The historic paint scheme has been restored but changes have been kept to a minimum.

The next project for the Friends group is to raise money to have the exterior of the chapel re-rendered. Due to past repairs that have included the use of concreted, the building is prone to the retention of moisture which is affecting the walls.Walpole Old Chapel website

Visiting

Grid Reference TM 373752

The Chapel is open from May to the end of September on Saturdays only between 2pm and 4.30 pm. If you would like to visit outside these hours, please contact our volunteer keyholder to arrange access for your visit.

Getting there

Halesworth railway station is about 5 miles away, from there a taxi is needed. 

If you are travelling by car: from Halesworth follow the B1117 signs towards  Stradbroke/Laxfield. As you enter the start of Walpole you will see the Chapel on the right hand side, approximately 20 yards after the red phone box.

There is limited car parking opposite, none on site.  There is a detached WC.
 

In the area

Halesworth is 5 miles from Walpole Old Chapel, a trail guides you round this historic town. The local countryside is perfect for walkers and cyclists and the Suffolk Heritage Coast is just 10 miles from Halesworth.

East Suffolk line walks – the stations along the line provide a perfect starting point for short or long walks in the beautiful Suffolk countryside; you can download a pdf guide to the walks hereWalpole Old Chapel website

Halesworth Road
Walpole
Nr Halesworth
IP19 9AZ
United Kingdom

The Chapel is open from May to the end of September on Saturdays between 2pm and 4.30 pm. For group visits at other times please contact our volunteer keyholder to arrange access

Walpole Old Chapel has seating for 200; it has toilets, including for the disabled.

The Chapel is available for baptisms, weddings, blessings.  It can also be hired for events such as poetry readings, exhibitions, meetings and location filming. You can find more information on the chapel’s website.

Volunteers to assist with the day to day organisation and guiding at the Chapel are always most welcome.  If you would be interested in becoming a volunteer please do contact us.

In the 18th and 19th centuries Westgate was the main centre of Primitive Methodist activity in Weardale; the original chapel was built in 1824, the year after an open air ‘camp meeting’, which was held in a local field and attracted 200 people.  The chapel was rebuilt in 1871 to accommodate 500 people, and the original building was converted into a schoolroom.  It is outstanding because it retains its complete Victorian layout, including a full set of pews and original windows.

The current Westgate Methodist Chapel dates from 1871, George Race and a Mr Atkinson being the architects. The present chapel adjoins part of an early nineteenth-century chapel, which became a schoolroom. 

The Chapel’s simple exterior belies its rich interior, As the listing description states, it “displays high quality artistic merit in the nature of its metal and plaster decorative detailing’  This Grade II* chapel is of more than special interest in a national context”.  

The gallery is supported on slim, modified Corinthian cast-iron columns. These are decorated to look like marble and with stencilling and gilded capitals and are carried up to form upper arcades at gallery level. The communion rails have patterned cast-iron uprights enclosing a dais. The dais has a panelled front with decorative cast-iron work.

The organ, built by local firm Nelson & Co., is Listed and is described by a specialist as ‘a treasure of an instrument’. 

By the time HCT acquired the Chapel in 2009 the roof had been leaking for years. HCT completed a major programme of work, including making the building watertight. The internal fabric has dried out well but, ironically, this drying process is causing the plaster ceiling to crack and areas of ceiling are currently in danger of collapse at any time.

These problems were compounded by the damage sustained to the roof during the severe storms of Boxing Day 2015 and in January 2016, as a result of which the chapel roof needed completely re-slating. 

Thanks to a generous grant from Historic England, grants from several trusts and foundations and donations from nearly 30 individuals, we raised sufficient funds for the re-roofing of a major section of the roof in Spring 2017.  This is a huge step forward and we are enormously grateful to all of our generous donors.

Our next priority is to raise funds for the ceiling to be repaired – this is vital if the organ is not to be damaged. If you would like to help us to save this wonderful building and its important organ you can find out how to make a donation.

GETTING THERE

Grid reference: NY 905 380

Westgate Methodist Chapel is located on the north side of the A689 travelling west at the Alston (west) end of Westgate.

The chapel can only be viewed from the outside at present, due to the dangerous state of the ceiling. This page will be updated as soon as it is once more  accessible to the public.

You can find out more about Westgate Chapel by downloading a free 2-page guide here.

IN THE AREA

Westgate Chapel is on the Wesley Trail.

The award-winning Weardale Museum and the adjacent High House Chapel at Irishhopeburn give fascinating insights into local history.

Westgate
Nr Bishop Auckland
DL13 1LQ
United Kingdom

The chapel can only be viewed from the outside at present, due to the dangerous state of the ceiling. This page will be updated as soon as it is once more  accessible to the public.

Unfortunately, Westgate Chapel is not accessible to the public at present due to the dangerous condition of the ceiling.  If you would like to help us complete the urgent repairs that are needed please do contact us or consider making a donation.

Wesgate Chapel Facebook page

A wealthy industrialist’s estate chapel with an unusual twist. It was built by George Frederick Muntz following his purchase of Umberslade Park. Muntz was a Baptist convert and placed the church between his house and the village to attract further converts to the Baptist cause.

Umberslade Church on Facebook

Umberslade Baptist Church (originally called Christ Church Umbersalde) dates from 1877. It is now the sole survivor among several chapels associated with the rise of Birmingham Nonconformity. Umberslade was founded and paid for by George Frederick Muntz, a successful industrialist of German origin, and a zealous Baptist convert. Having become owner of Umberslade Hall, the church was an estate church. Sadly, today the M40 motorway separates the Hall from the chapel. The nearby tall obelisk was also conceived as a park monument.

Umberslade Baptist Church is the last surviving major chapel of the Birmingham architect, George Ingall (1868–1910). Ingall deployed the Decorated Gothic style, enriching the church with pinnacles, finials, buttresses, and a slender tower and spire, in winter visible from the motorway. The church is constructed in a grey freestone. Inside, the timber furnishings are largely intact and include a large Gothic central pulpit. In front of it is an open baptistry for total immersion baptisms, finished in marble.

Many of the benches retain their gas lamps. The stained glass is geometric and the memorial to the founder inside the church is is cast in ‘Muntz metal’, an alloy G. F. Muntz patented to great commercial success as it repelled barnacles and weed and was used to clad the wooden hulls of tea clippers and merchant ships. When restored in recent years the hull of the most famous tea clipper of them all, the Cutty Sark, was again covered in Muntz metal as it was in the vessel’s heyday.  G F Muntz’s grave is in the burial ground.

Nearby is the wooden building used as the temporary church while the stone one was being built and later as a school room until well into the twentieth century. This too is now listed as is the war memorial in the burial ground.

When elderly and bed-ridden G F Muntz had a landline installed so that he could listen to services in the church by loudspeaker in his bedroom at the Hall.

Historic Chapels Trust acquired the building after a long period of neglect once the Baptists had left. The first phase of restoration was achieved with generous support of Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

This secured the most crumbled stonework and saw the leaking roof completely re-slated. There is much yet to do, however. The schoolroom in the detached wooden building and vestry and committee rooms at the end of the church need extensive repair.

An active band of volunteers, the Friends of Umberslade Baptist Church, maintain the large burial ground and open the church to the public regularly. For details of their working parties and for more on the history of this site visit their facebook page.

Visits

There is parking at the foot of the access track from Spring Lane to the chapel. There is a large sign to show the entrance. Unless prior arrangements have been made please park by the locked gate and walk to the chapel. Three public footpaths pass through the burial ground and by the church. The nearest bus services are in Hockley Heath (half a mile) and the nearest train station is Dorridge.

You can download a short guide to Umberslade Church here.

Nearby

Packwood House is an Elizabethan Mansion with extensive gardens and famous topiary, just 2 mils from the Church.

The Millennium Way Long Distance Path passes within one mile of the church and footpaths allow a diversion via the church and its burial ground – and a tall obelisk, part of the park landscaping.

Umberslade Church on Facebook

Spring Lane
Hockley Heath
Nr. Solihull
B94 6QY
United Kingdom

The chapel is normally locked. For Open Days or to arrange a group visit please go to the Umberslade facebook page.

The chapel does not yet have facilities so is not available for hire. We have plans to convert the wooden building and vestry block into offices for lease to help defray the costs of the site. We are seeking potential commercial partners to help us realise this vision.

Burial plots are available at Umberslade, you can find more details here.

The chantry chapel was commissioned by the 12th Baron Petre in Gothic Revival style for the burial of his close family members. The Petres have been a celebrated Roman Catholic family of Essex since medieval times.

In 2016 detailed surveys of the roof revealed that it was in worse condition that we had feared.  Plans had to be revisited and costs rose significantly. Thanks to very generous support from Historic England, the Country Houses Foundation and more than 20 generous individuals work started on site in early October 2017.

Many roof timbers were found to have been hollowed out by wood weevil. About one quarter of the roof tiles were re-cycled and put back on the repaired roof and bat roosts have been accommodated under the tiles.

The Petre family

The chapel was built as the mortuary chapel of the Petre family (Petre is pronounced ‘Peter’). The Petres have been a leading family of Essex from medieval times and refused to convert at the Reformation, remaining Roman Catholic recusants. Their former family seat was Thorndon Hall, rebuilt in the eighteenth century as one of the grandest mansions in Essex, designed by James Paine.

Several members of the Petre family are buried in the crypt of the chapel that was built by the family for this purpose. After a major fire the family left Thorndon Hall and the burnt shell was later converted to private apartments. The Petre family seat today is Ingatestone Hall.

The Architect

Dedicated in 1857, the Petre chapel is the work of architect William Wardell (1823-1899).  Wardell was a Catholic convert and after a precociously early success as an architect of the Gothic Revival he emigrated to Australia for health reasons. Both St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne and St. Mary’s Sydney are his work. His client at Thornton was the 12th Baron Petre.

Architecture

The Petre Chapel is a small but lively composition in ragstone with soft freestone dressings in ‘decorated’ gothic – the style of the mid 14th century.  There is an octagonal bellcote rising above the sacristy. Two encircling bands of prayers and leaf decoration in soft limestone run round the building. Sadly this soft stone has not weathered well but on the North side it reads ‘Ego Sum Resurrectio et Vita Qui Credit in me Etiam si Mortuus Fuerit Vivet’ (Translation: I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live’).

Inside, the roof is gloriously decorated with gilded angels on the hammer-beams and richly painted. Stations of the Cross are set in the walls.

The Chapel is one of Essex’s miniature treasures and the present Lord Petre gifted the chapel to HCT in 2010 since when we have raised funds for restoration. Initial repairs and the first stages of restoration are now complete and have secured the structure so it is safe for supervised visits – but there is much to do.

Third Earl of Derwentwater

As well as several Lords Petre and their close family, the crypt holds the remains of the third Earl of Derwentwater who in 1716 was executed in the Tower of London for Treason, for his role in the Jacobite uprising. The Earl’s body was recovered from the executioner by well-connected Catholic supporters and in the 19th century Lord Petre allowed re-interment of the Earl’s remains at his family chantry chapel at Thorndon Park. This ensured the remains were in ground consecrated by a Catholic bishop; and it associated the Petre family with a man widely regarded as a Catholic martyr.

Repair and Regeneration

The Chapel is one of Essex’s miniature treasures but has been a source of concern for many years owing to poor condition and vandalism.  Lord Petre gifted the chapel to HCT in 2010 since when pro-active management by HCT and co-operation with the Country Park team mean this is a thing of the past. HCT has undertaken the first two stages of restoration – but there is much yet to do.

HCT secured generous grants from Historic England and the Country Houses Foundation for initial urgent repairs to belfry, spire and stonework, competed in 2015.

Help put back the windows

The stained glass in the chapel was designed and made by the Birmingham firm Hardman & Co. It was reputedly a fine set of glass but was lost to vandalism. When Historic Chapels Trust took on the chapel the windows were all blocked up. A search for suitable replacement glazing is now in hand. 

Can you help us with finding glass for the windows? We hope to give a home here to stained glass which is homeless or at risk when its host building is demolished or altered. If you know of such glass please let us know.

Visits

Cars cannot drive up to the chapel, so you should park in Thorndon Country Park ‘second car park’ and walk to the chapel (150 yards). Use the Country Park entrance off ‘The Avenue’.

HCT does not own the access way to the chapel and there is pedestrian access only. Please use the car park and do not drive on the track as this blocks access, damages tree roots – and you are likely to get stuck in soft ground!

You can download a Quick Guide to Petre Chapel here.

Nearby

Thorndon Country Park is open throughout the year and has a visitor centre with cafe. The Country Park is very popular in summer, especially at weekends.

Thorndon Park
off Hartswood Road
Brentwood
CM13 3SA
United Kingdom

We welcome group visits, and visitors on Open Days and the burial ground is available for Roman Catholic woodland burials.

The chapel is available for pre-arranged group visits but cannot be hired for events.

Roman Catholic woodland burials

By agreement of the Bishop of Brentwood the chapel burial ground, which remains consecrated, is now open again for Roman Catholic burials of the ‘woodland’ sort – that is without memorials of any kind, to preserve the beautiful woodland setting of the chantry chapel in a heavily wooded glade: a beautiful final resting place. Please see details here.