From An Inventory of Non-Conformist Chapels and Meeting Houses in the North of England By Christopher Stell
Risley Presbyterian Chapel in Colour
The Presbyterian society which first met here was formed by Thomas Risley, a Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, who resigned his Fellowship on the passing of the 1662 Act of Uniformity. Although shortly after this event he accepted episcopal ordination, he was unwilling to proceed further and returned to his estate at Culcheth where he practised medicine and engaged in private preaching. In 1689 a barn at Culcheth was registered as a meeting-house and in 1706-7 the chapel was erected 'upon a piece of land called Fifty Croft in Cross Lane, in Culchett, near the dwelling-house of the said Thomas Risley'.
Risley died in 1716 and was succeeded in the ministry by his son John. Under subsequent ministers the society came to accept heterodox doctrines until, in 1838, following a successful petition for the removal of the then Unitarian minister and trustees, the building passed into the care of what became the Presbyterian Church of England.
Interior of Risley Presbyterian Chapel in Colour
The chapel has walls of brickwork, and the roof is covered with stone slates. It comprises a nave (38.5 ft by 20ft) and chancel (13.75 ft by 15ft) in orthodox E-W alignment. The principal alterations have been the replacement of the N and S windows of the nave, probably after 1892 and perhaps as late as 1914, and the rebuilding of the chancel arch and insertion of a W doorway in 1953.
The chancel has an original E window with segmental-arched head and wooden frame of three lights; a similar window in the N wall has been blocked. Throughout the 19th century and later the chancel appears to have been divided from the nave by a partition of vertical boarding on the E side of the chancel arch and to have served as a vestry. Photographs of the arch before its rebuilding show a wide depressed arch with central keystone of early 18th century character clearly intended to be open.
The nave is of three bays and has externally to N and S a brick platband of two courses which formerly continued above segmental-arched windows. The roof structure, partly concealed until 1953 by an inserted plaster ceiling, comprises two king-post trusses and curved wind-braces above and below each purlin. The carpenters' assembly marks are in Arabic numerals. On the W gable is a square wooden bell-cote.
Bell: one, in bell-cote, with date 1718, initials R. A. below and name 'Wiggan' opposite, for Ralph Ashton of Wigan.
Collecting Shovel: one, with ogee-shaped opening to square box, short handle, 19th-century.
Monuments: in burial ground S of chapel (1) Rev. Thomas Risley M.A ., 1716, table-tomb with late 19th-century inscription; (2) Rev. John Risley A.M ., 1743, Hannah his wife, 1730, and Hannah their daughter,1723, raised slab.
Pulpit: octagonal, with two tiers of fielded panels, early 18th-century.
Seating: box-pews with knob finials to ends next to centre aisle, partly remade but incorporating fielded-panelled doors carved with initials and dates I. W. 1706, R.L. 1706, 1759, P.D. 1706. I.P ., [ ]06, C.H. I.C. [ ]706.
(Chapel closed September 1971 and immediately demolished; burial-ground remains)