Historic chapel renews fundraising appeal

December 05 2016

A FURTHER fundraising drive has been launched to secure the future of an architectural gem in the heart of Frenchay.

A FURTHER fundraising drive has been launched to secure the future of an architectural gem in the heart of Frenchay.

The Frenchay Unitarian Chapel is a Grade 2* Listed Building and a rare example of a 17th century non-conformist building.

It is still in regular use for worship today and its supporters need help to make sure it can be preserved for future generations.

Since 2012, they have raised £29,000, which has paid for the front two windows to be replaced and the four others to be repaired, but the congregation has been told that two of the side windows will need to be replaced soon. Ongoing repairs and maintenance also have to be funded.

Many people have already backed the chapel’s Sponsor a Pane appeal but more are being urged to support the fundraising.

Fundraising secretary Pauline Furnivall said the chapel, behind a stone wall and a yew tree, was steeped in history. It dates back to 1691 and boasts a crinoline door, which allowed ladies with crinoline skirts ease of passage into worship.  

The weathervane over the chapel tower is said to commemorate  the  spectacular visit of Halley’s Comet in 1759 and there are many interesting memorials in the graveyard, as well as a large unmarked stone known as the Body Snatcher’s Stone. This was placed over newly made graves to prevent the practice of stealing bodies for the purpose of dissection. 

The repair of the front two windows was carried out by specialists from Bath.

“All the historic window panes, which we are advised could well be original, were carefully removed without breakages from the existing windows and reinstalled into the new ones,” said Pauline.

Dedication services were held to celebrate the completion of the work on the restoration and repairs of the windows. Candles were lit for everyone who had sponsored a pane, and plaques with the names of sponsors were unveiled.

“We feel that it is imperative that our heritage is preserved.  We have been entrusted with the task of handing this precious ‘jewel’ on to future generations to admire, enjoy and appreciate,” she said.

Sponsors who pay £100 - perhaps to honour a loved one , celebrate a special event or simply make a contribution to the chapel and wider commuity - can have their name on one of the plaques.

The Minister, the Rev Lindy Latham, added: “Increasingly in this world of rapid change, the timeless beauty and simplicity of Frenchay chapel has been a source of comfort, challenge, inspiration and peace to those who visit.  

"We are fortunate to have a congregation committed to the care of the chapel, wanting to pass it on as a legacy  – but we cannot do this alone.”

To help, contact fundraising secretary Pauline Furnivall by emailing frenchayfund@gmail.com