Chapel of the Month – May 2015

The Dutch Church in the City of London

The site, in Austin Friars, is that of the church of the Pre-Reformation Augustinian Friars. Its nave was retained at the Reformation and in 1550 was given for worship to London’s large Dutch Protestant community. The congregation was allowed to use “their own rites and ceremonies” by the ardently protestant Edward VI. Dutch presence in the City was much welcomed. “I wish that we could collect together such valuable persons in this kingdom; it would be a means of securing its prosperity”, opined Hugh Latimer, Edward’s adviser.

Dutch Church  - ExteriorThe Dutch Church thence became the oldest Nonconformist church in England, even preceding the founding of Protestant churches in Holland. But this building was not to last, being badly damaged by fire in the 1860s and completely destroyed in 1940 during the Blitz. The present Dutch Church, designed by architect Arthur Bailey (1903-79) , was reopened in 1954 by the young Princess Irene of the Netherlands.

Externally it is clad in Portland stone, applied over a system of concrete boxframes that step up in a pattern of cubes, rectangles and geometric forms, all with restrained classicising detail. At the apex is a slim bellcote and weathervane with ball finials. Tall windows and doorways emphasise the verticals.

Dutch Church  - East EndInside, the east end – with its lofty light oak tester presiding over the minister’s bench – makes a unequivocal statement about the nature of Dutch Protestantism, emphasising the Supremacy of the Word, insisting on restrained adornment, unswervingly asserting distinct beliefs. The main body of the church is one large space ; no aisles; a shallowly coffered roof curving over.

The aqua colour of the coffering is reflected in the subtly painted banisters of the main staircase. Pilaster strips model the walls and reinforce allusions to the classical style.

Dutch Church 2Gentle humour is unexpectedly evidenced in the metal spiral stair against the north wall. This ascends to the organ where decorative stair risers and decorative gold balls (again!) playfully connect themes from musical notation and contemporary furniture.

Glance around and other themes emerge – notably those of Kin and Kingship, powerfully expressed in some of the City’s most ravishing C20 stained glass. On the main stair is Max Nauta’s (1896-1957) stained glass commemoration of the Glorious Revolution of 1689, when the Catholic James II of England was defeated and succeeded by his Protestant daughter, Mary II, and her Dutch husband and cousin, William III.

Dutch Church  - Glorious Revolution 2Both are depicted in sparkling stained glass that has a jewel-like, three dimensional quality, owing to Nauta’s use of small pieces of differently coloured glass as a substrate before painting. The huge west window is Nauta’s work also, with vivid royal portraiture, saints and heraldry.

There are handsome, traditional-style brass chandeliers and wall candelabra. On the south wall is a large tapestry depicting the ‘Tree of Life’ by Dutch artist Hans van Norden (b. 1915). It is a remarkable work, recombining traditional Biblical imagery with modernist/ classicising forms in pastel, not pale, colours.

Dutch Church  - Tree of LifeThe depiction of the stairway to heaven references the stair to the organ against the wall opposite.

The church houses an important library, paintings and historic documents of great interest. It has a lively programme of services, social events and activities and is clearly well integrated into London’s City life. The relationship with the House of Orange also remains a strong one. Former Queen, Princess Beatrix, made a visit on April 24th 2015.

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Online database of C20 churches and chapels

The C20 Society has published a new online database of C20th churches and chapels in the UK with the aid of a grant from Historic England. C20 places of worship are incredibly varied and interesting, ranging from the traditional Gothic to innovative designs with features like concrete hyperbolic paraboloid roofs. Many also have wonderful fittings, including stained glass, fonts, sculpture, murals, tilework, mosaics and tapestry in every C20 style. Yet these inspirational and significant buildings remain under-represented in Historic England’s designation list. It is therefore hoped that the new database will help draw attention to our incredibly rich heritage of C20 churches and chapels.

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World’s oldest Methodist chapel receives £2.5m grant

The New Room in Bristol, the oldest Methodist chapel in the world, has been awarded a grant of £2.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The historic 276 year-old Grade I listed building, known as the cradle of Methodism, was built on land bought by John Wesley himself in 1739. The grant from HLF, alongside a grant of £1.4 million from the Bristol Methodist District, will enable the existing facilities to be updated:

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News from Methodist Heritage

The Spring 2015 edition of Methodist Heritage News is now out and has articles on the new Bible Society heritage centre at St Beuno’s Church in Wales, researching historical records for the Osmotherley Methodist Chapel and updates on the Old Rectory, Epworth.

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Chapel of the Month – April 2015

Lugwawrdine Chapel

Lugwardine Chapel

Sometimes a fairly plain exterior can hide something remarkable inside. The Chapel in Lugwardine in Herefordshire certainly fits into this category. Within the modest simple Gothic structure with its pretty round window the curious visitor will find a spectacular Victorian encaustic tiled floor.

The Evangelical Protestant Mission was established at Lugwardine in 1820 and the present chapel in Lumber Lane was built in the last quarter of the nineteenth century by William Godwin, owner of the Lugwardine Tile Works.

Lugwardine Chapel tiles

Lugwardine Chapel tiles

The brighly coloured floor is part of Godwin’s legacy and comprises around 5,000 Godwin tiles in a huge variety of different designs.

Today the chapel is a Partnership and Ichthus Link Church and its brand of Christian Fellowship thrives through a number of weekly activities, which range from serious Bible study and prayer to a lively Youth Club.

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Chapel of the Month – March 2015

This month we haven chosen something a little different as our Chapel of the Month.

Chapel of St Albert the Great

Chapel of St Albert the Great

The Chapels Society generally concentrates its attention on historic chapels but we are also interested in the continuing evolution of chapel architecture and so it seems appropriate to share an example of a newly finished building – the Roman Catholic Chapel of St Albert the Great built for St Albert’s Catholic Chaplaincy, which exists to serve Catholic students and staff at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University and Queen Margaret University.

This elegant new building situated close to George Square was designed by Simpson and Brown Architects and has been the recipient of a number of architeural awards.

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Chapel of the Month – February 2015

Yelverton BC Chapel 1908Roger Thorne, past Council Member and leader of well received visits in the south west, responded to our appeal for candidates for ‘Chapel of the Month’ with this suggestion – the Bible Christian Chapel in Yelverton.

Roger writes: “This year is the Bicentenary of the Bible Christians whose heart land was always the South West.  I am compiling a CD of pictures of their chapels in Devon.

Their very last BC chapel was opened on 7th August 1907 at Yelverton, in the parish of Buckland Monachorum, on the edge of Dartmoor, north of Plymouth.

Yelverton BC Chapel (1885)Yelverton was served by the railway from Plymouth and a number of business men from Plymouth built villas there.

So the last Bible Christian chapel was most untypical in that it was expensive and elaborate and designed by a known architect, W Beddoe Rees.

Today it is without its tower but I can’t remember if the tower was taken down because of the war-time aerodrome nearby or later structural problems.”

We hope that you enjoy these evocative images – including the post card shown above.

Yelverton BC ChapelYelverton BC Chapel

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Chapel of the Month – January 2015

For the first Chapel of the Month feature in 2015 we thought we might offer readers a mystery to solve…

Hope Baptist Chapel - location unknown

Hope Baptist Chapel – location unknown

Yvonne Emerton sent us this photograph of ‘Hope Baptist Chapel’. Although the photogaph has been in Yvonne’s family for many years they do not know the location of the chapel and would like to identify it if possible. It looks somewhat similar to the Hope Chapel at Horsham, which is also set on a corner, but Yvonne doesn’t think that it is the same building.

Yvonne’s great great grandfather, William Bray, was an itinerant Baptist preacher. On the 1871 census of Hitchin, Hertfordshire he is recorded as a Baptist minister in various places though his home was in Hitchin. On the 1891 census he is recorded as a Baptist minister and is a visitor at a home in Croydon, Surrey.

The Strict Baptist Historical Society have a listing for a W. Bray as minister at Haynes, Bedford from 1863- c.1870.  At that time my William Bray would have been living at Walkern, Hertfordshire.  His son later became a cycle shop owner in Haynes.

These are the only clues as to the possible location of the chapel so any thoughts from readers would be most welcome!

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Mission-shaped Heritage

Conference ~ 16-18 July 2015 at Cliff College, Derbyshire

Methodist Heritage is committed to enabling Methodism to use its heritage for mission.

With keynote speakers and academic papers, site visits and workshop/seminar streams, the Methodist Heritage Conference 2015 will reflect on themes relating to heritage and mission, and consider innovative ways of being missional in the context of historic religious buildings, museums and archive collections. This promises to be an engaging and packed programme for anyone interested in the theory and practice of preserving and extending the use of Methodist Church heritage.

To be added to the mailing list for a draft programme and booking details contact Diane Foster, Heritage Administrator, on 020 7467 5117 or email fosterd@methodistcheuch.org.uk

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HCT Launches Photographic Competition

The Historic Chapels Trust (HCT) are on the look out for high quality photos of their churches, chapels and meeting houses to use in publicity, fundraising and on the website.  If you are a keen photographer you could win £250 of equipment of your choice in our competition.

Closing date: 31 March 2015

For entry details email lorraine@hct.org.uk

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