Search

Feature: Hidden gem’s an important part of our heritage

18:00 02 March 2013

Upminster Old Chapel at Sacred heart of Mary Girls' School is being being restored after being closed for twenty years. The Chapel itself is 200 years old.   Gemma Smith,  heritage officer at the Upminster Old Chapel shows me around the site.

Upminster Old Chapel at Sacred heart of Mary Girls' School is being being restored after being closed for twenty years. The Chapel itself is 200 years old. Gemma Smith, heritage officer at the Upminster Old Chapel shows me around the site.

Archant

You might have walked past it every day without knowing the important role that it played in the history of Upminster.

You might have walked past it every day without knowing the important role that it played in the history of Upminster.

But this is all set to change when the Old Chapel in St Mary’s Lane opens to the public for the first time in 20 years.

Heritage officer Gemma Smith said: “People don’t actually realise how important it was. It has played a big part in the community of Upminster and it has been a place of worship for a lot of the different Christian groups and it tells you a lot about acceptance and tolerance.”

Work on restoring the 200-year-old chapel started two years ago in time for its opening later this month.

The project was given a massive boost thanks to a £840,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Veolia Havering Riverside Trust.

But this time around the chapel is set to have a very different role.

It will be used by Sacred Heart of Mary Girls’ School for assemblies, liturgies, prayer and as part of the curriculum, but Gemma is also keen for it to be used by the wider community.

Most of the chapel’s original features have been restored including the facade, the pulpit and gallery.

It has also been given a face lift with new easier access, new toilets and a meeting space.

The chapel will be open on set weekends in line with Upminster Windmill and the Tithe Barn in St Mary’s Lane, Upminster.

But the project has not all been plain sailing.

In March, workmen discovered 22 unexploded Second World War shells near the chapel and then three weeks later another three were found on the site.

The chapel was built in 1800 as a place of worship for a church of Protestant Dissenters, formed by a group of parishioners who were in dispute with the rector John Rose Holden Junior over taxes.

The group took it in turns to worship in their homes, until they raised £486 11s 9d – about £30,000 today – to build the chapel.

The congregation used the chapel until 1910, when they relocated to the new church in Station Road. When they left, another Christian group called the Brethren worshipped there until 1989.

Gemma said: “The history of the chapel shows the level of acceptance of different types of worship and it tells you a lot about non-conformists.”

Things took a turn for the worst in 1989, when the chapel became too expensive to run.

Despite attempts by various church groups, including the Havering Christian Fellowship Centre to restore the chapel, it was too big of a challenge.

When Sacred Heart of Mary Girls’ School purchased the building in 2005, they saw the potential.

Gemma said: “There is a chance that if we didn’t do it then, it would have just been left to just get worse.

“I have been really fascinated with speaking to the people that went to the church and they told me about all the memories.

“It’s been really interesting and it has helped me to understand the role that it played in the community.”

0 comments

Latest Romford News Stories

Yesterday, 15:00
Swords of Essex (Paul Robinson, left, and Scotty Essex) in the ring.

More than 180 people watched the next generation of wrestling stars battle each other in the ring on Sunday, last week.

Yesterday, 11:53
yoga picture for RHP

Reducing stress and anxiety can feel impossible at times, but a yoga teacher in Upminster says she can help residents find inner peace.

Yesterday, 10:00
The launch of Here to help!, a new service opening in Havering, which will help any Havering residents over 16

Those in need across the borough can hope for a little more support with the launch of a new care programme.

Saturday, September 24, 2016
St Mary's Catholic School refurb.

Pupils at one of the borough’s largest faith schools will have been rubbing their eyes in disbelief when they returned to class this month.

Saturday, September 24, 2016
Adrian Baker is still touring today.

After a successful career spanning more than four decades, a chart-topping guitarist has recalled how it feels to perform in front of audiences around the world.

Saturday, September 24, 2016
Councillors and winners celebrate a successful London in Bloom competition.

Havering is this year’s biggest winners at the London in Bloom competition after it toppled last year’s previous record.

Friday, September 23, 2016
Parking tickets on a car in a railway station.

Parking fines handed out to drivers in the borough have more than doubled in the space of five years.

Friday, September 23, 2016
Ricky Hayden was killed earlier this month (Picture: Kosho Bar)

A teenager appeared in court for the first time today, charged with murdering Ricky Hayden and attempting to murder his father.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

Kit yourself out and go Apple mad!

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

VW Golf Estate

As we grow older it becomes more and more important to have means to travel about safely and quickly. Our friendship groups and families grow and the need to have a car that is not only safe but also fast and big enough for all our needs is ever more important. There are many cars on the market for such needs but none deals with them as efficiently or as neatly as a VW Golf Estate. These cars are build strong, long lasting and spacious for a reason. They cater to the needs of many and are some of the most popular cars currently on the market.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now