Thursday, 7 November 2013



Whilst most English churches are recognisable as such, some
non conformist churches are quite different.



Quaker church


A curious old thatched building in the tiny hamlet of Come to Good near Truro in Cornwall, is a Quaker Meeting House which dates from 1710.

Come to Good


Church Orne


A lovely Congregational church at Roxton in Bedfordshire was built in 1808
in the style of a thatched Gothic cottage orne




The oldest Methodist church




A unusual octagonal Methodist church is to be seen in the very interesting village of Heptonstall in West Yorkshire.   The foundation stone was laid in 1764 by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism and it is claimed to be the oldest such church which is still in regular use.

The Hanging Chapel


Langport is an ancient market town near Yeovil in Somerset.   To the east of the parish church an archway spans the road and it has a curious small chapel built into it.  The Hanging Chapel, as it is called, was built for a medieval craft guild, since which time it has had a variety of uses.




Chapel House


In 1787, John Sneyd of Belmont Hall at Ipstones in Staffordshire, began to build a church in the village.  He soon had a serious disgreement with the vicar as a result of which Sneyd abandoned the village project and built his own church at the gates to Belmont Hall, in 1794.   Their disagreement was subsequently resolved and Sneyd’s private church soon became a dwelling as it is to this day.

The Italian Chapel


This very fine ‘tin tabernacle’ is situated on the tiny island of Lamb Holm in Orkney.
During WW11 550 Italian prisoners of war, captured in North Africa, were housed on this previously uninhabited island between South Ronaldsway and The Mainland. They were to be involved in the construction of The Churchill Barriers.
Scapa Flow was a strategic Royal Naval base during both world wars and in 1939 a German submarine broke through the defences and torpedoed HMS Royal Oak which together with its 833 men sank into 90 feet of water where it still rests today.
Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, ordered four defensive concrete dykes to be constructed across the eastern approach to Scapa Flow and they became known as The Churchill Barriers. Today they carry a road linking the various islands, including Lamb Holm, to The Mainland.
The prisoners were housed at Camp 60 in 13 Nissen huts and they enhanced the camp themselves with the use of the readily available concrete and in 1943 the camp commandant authorised the use of two Nissen huts to provide a chapel for the prisoners. The huts were placed end to end and the interior was lined with plasterboard. The prisoners built a concrete façade complete with belfry to conceal the shape of the Nissen huts which they thickly coated in concrete.

The Italian  chapel

One of the prisoners, Domencio Chiocchetti, assisted by his fellow prisoners, painted the interior which resulted in a magnificent and spectacular work of art.

Chiocchetti also fashioned a statue of St George from barbed wire and concrete which still stands near to the church.

This tiny metal heart can be seen on the floor of the chapel close to the altar rail. The story goes that one of the Italian POW's fell in love with a local girl. He was a married man and when the war was over he was forced to return to his homeland. He left a note for his lover telling her that he had left his heart in the chapel.

In 1960 Chiocchetti returned to Lamb Holm to restore his paintwork. This category A masterpiece is now under the auspices of a preservation committee.
 Lantern Hill
The rocky crag upon which this tiny chapel stands, Lantern Hill,  at Ilfracombe in Devon,was probably so named before this chapel was built c1300-1325. St Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and the chapel is the ideal place for a lantern, said to be the oldest in the country, in its tower to guide ships into the harbour and also a place for those watching for  the return a vessel maybe caught in a storm This chapel would have originally served the mariners and their families in the little houses around the harbour but fell into disuse at the Dissolution. Between 1835 and 1871, a John Davey lived in the chapel with his wife and 14 children where he was the lighthouse keeper. Much neglected, the chapel was restored in 1962 and is now open to the public





Military Hospital

This fine chapel is virtually all that is left of the Royal Victoria Military Hospital at Netley in Hampshire which was built in the mid 19th century. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone and regularly visited the hospital. The main building was the longest building in the world when it was built but the hospital was somewhat criticised by Florence Nightingale on her return from The Crimea. The hospital alongside Southampton Water, which was virtually a village,was demolished in 1966, but the chapel was eventually saved as a lasting memorial to the hospital. The grounds are now the Royal Victoria Country Park and the chapel has been converted to a visitor centre.

This church at Saltaire, one of the nation’s most precious Victorian architectural gems, is now a Grade 1 listed building and the Italianate religious architecture is a sight to behold.

In 1853, on his 50th birthday, Sir Titus Salt opened his visionary textile mill and workers village on the bank of the River Aire near to Shipley in West Yorkshire. The mill had 4 beam engines supplied with steam by 14 boilers, which powered 1200 looms capable of producing 30,000 yards of cloth a day. The village, called Saltaire, comprising 22 streets, 850 houses and 42 alms houses, provided almost luxury accommodation for his workforce. There were no public houses, but a Club and Institute which cost £25,000 to build, catered for the moral and physical welfare of the community, together with reading rooms, a theatre, a library and several shops. A School of Arts also contained a gymnasium and a billiard room, whilst wash houses were complete with washing machines and drying facilities. There was of course a school for the worker’s children and the very fine Congregational Church which cost £16,000 to build. The village even had its own fire brigade, was serviced by gas, and had a canal and a railway station. Allotments were provided and the worker’s had full use of a dining room where they could bring their own food and have it cooked, or they could purchase food at very low cost. Curiosities within the village are the four stone lions to be seen on guard outside the Literary Institute and the schools. They had been commissioned for the embellishment of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square but in the event they were considered to be too insignificant for the purpose and were subsequently bought By Sir Titus Salt. Landseer’s lions were of course chosen for the London site. Although times have changed, the whole complex is now preserved and in 2001 became a World Heritage Site. It is still a living community, but the houses, the mill and other premises are privately occupied.


Saltaire Church

Our Lady of the Crag

In 1408 permission was granted by King Henry 1V for this interesting wayside shrine . It was excavated into the cliff at the side of the River Nidd at Knaresborough by John the Mason in thanks for his young son being miracously saved from a falling rock.
Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag

St Trillo's Chapel
St Trillo's Chapel, situated on the sea shore at Rhos on Sea, North Wales,  is reputedly the smallest church in the UK. This simple stone and mortar building stands over a natural spring and dates to the 6th century. It seats just six people and is used weekly.

St Trillo's Chapel

St Govan’s Chapel

A short distance from Bosherton on the Pembrokeshire coast of south Wales there is a small crevice in the cliffs wherein there is the tiny chapel of St Govan which can be reached down a steep flight of 52 steps. It is said that the steps never count the same going up as going down. According to legend,  in the 6th century hermit St Govan was being chased by pirates when the fissure miraculously opened up to hide him and closed over him until the pirates has gone. St Govan decided to build a cell at the spot and remained there for the rest of his life preaching and teaching Christianity to the local people. Outside the chapel is the Bell Rock and legend has it that a silver bell in the chapel bell tower was stolen by pirates and when St Govan prayed for its return, it was placed inside the rock by angels for safe keeping. St Govan used to tap the rock to produce a sound a thousand times stronger than the original bell.
There was also a well near the chapel said to be a healing well.
St Govan is said to have been buried under the chapel altar when he died in 586. 

St Govan's Chapel

 © Copyright Pete Wise and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
To whom I am grateful for the use of this photograph

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