In March I finally got to visit Chowbent Unitarian Chapel. It is a remarkable building and full of history.
The reason for my visit was that I think that documents relating to Croft Unitarian Chapel may be there. Documents by John Bulmer written in the early 1970’s say that the documents and registers were there at that time.
The current building dates back 300 years and the congregation even longer. The original chapel used by the congregation was built in 1645 and the current one in 1721.
The present chapel retains the only known surviving artefacts from the 1645 building, namely the Communion table and two fine Commonwealth silver communion cups gifted by Robert Mort in 1654. The cups are kept securely in a local vault and are brought to chapel only for special occasions. A nail studded door that separates the chapel from the vestry is also thought to be from the original 1645 chapel.
More about the chapel and it's history can be read on the
Chowbent Unitarian Chapel website.
Before I even started looking through the many boxes of historic documents, I was shown a bunch of papers kept in the office of the chapel. These were all related directly to Croft Chapel.
The papers contain handwritten correspondence between Mr. Hatton, Mr. R Goddan, Mr. F Glover and Mr. G Craine regarding the installation of electricity at Croft Unitarian Chapel.
There are quotes for the supply, the installation, and the fittings. There is also a receipt for a cheque for £38 from Croft Chapel Trustees towards the supply fees.
Unfortunately, there was no proof that the installation went ahead, nor any other documents with those ones.
I managed to get through two of the boxes they had at Chowbent, all very interesting and unique items, but no more on Croft.
I didn’t have any more time available to continue searching, but hopefully I will be able to visit again soon and continue the search.
I am very grateful to David Shallcross at the Chapel for allowing me to visit and for showing me around.
Cheyvonne Bower is a local historian with a passion for the past.