Chapel of the Month – November 2017

Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Ellerton, East Riding of Yorkshire

Ellerton Chapel

Ellerton Chapel

This month we feature a Chapel at Risk that was brought to our attention by local campaigner Chris Cobley:

This delightful rural Georgian chapel with a remarkably intact original interior has an uncertain future. The chapel in the small village of Ellerton near the River Derwent was closed for worship in May 2017 and the Methodist Church has put the building up for sale.  There is no land associated with the chapel, other than the grass verge to the front, and it is difficult to see what the building could be used for.

Almost any new use would require gutting the interior and the removal of the box pews and pulpit, features that make this small chapel of particular significance.

Ellerton Chapel interior (C Cobley)

Ellerton Chapel interior (C Cobley)

Such reminders of the way that Methodism contributed so much to the cultural heritage of the rural East Riding of Yorkshire are fast disappearing.The East Riding was one of the most Methodist areas in Britain; out of the 600 nonconformist chapels built in the former administrative county before 1914, some 530 were Methodist – Wesleyan or Primitive. Of these only some 50 pre-1914 chapels remain in use of which only a handful retain their original interior, none as early as that at Ellerton.

Built in 1811 of cream brick the single storey building with hipped slate roof has a central projecting porch. The overlight to the entrance door and the two large windows to the left and right of the porch have Gothick glazing set in a pointed arch with red brick voussoirs.

Ellerton Chapel interior (C Cobley)

Ellerton Chapel interior (C Cobley)

The chapel was given a small red-brick extension at the west end, probably in the mid-19th century. There is a small circular window on the west side, and rectangular windows with later glazing in the south front.

Inside six rows of white-painted panelled box pews are tiered, rising from east to west, with the rows divided down the centre.  Steps at either end of the rows lead up to panelled doors that open into the top row. A brown painted panelled pulpit centrally placed against the east wall of the chapel is flanked by panelled pews and seating.

When the chapel was built the leading trustee was Barnard Clarkson, who would have met John Wesley when he visited the Clarkson family farm at nearby Foggathorpe in July 1776.

Chris Cobley of the Bubwith Village Trust, with the support of the Georgian Society for East Yorkshire and others, is campaigning to make sure that this splendid small village chapel and its increasingly rare original interior is preserved intact. An application has been made to Historic England seeking the upgrading of the chapel from grade II to II* thereby giving confirmation of the great historical and architectural significance of this chapel and ensuring that due regard of the importance of the building is taken by  local and national government  and other bodies in deciding its future and provision of financial support.

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