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‘Ambitious’ plans to raise £200k for historic chapel revamp

PUBLISHED: 07:30 14 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:05 14 October 2020

Simon Weeks, minister Bill Mahood and Anne Thomas are aiming to raise funds to repair Walpole Old Chapel  Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Simon Weeks, minister Bill Mahood and Anne Thomas are aiming to raise funds to repair Walpole Old Chapel Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

Campaigners are aiming to raise around £200,000 to fund vital repair works at a 17th century chapel at the ‘heart of the community’.

The chapel has been used for more than 400 years Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDThe chapel has been used for more than 400 years Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The Friends of Walpole Old Chapel are pressing ahead with plans to raise money to repair the external render of the building that is now severely damaged.

Committee members fear the historic chapel may not be able to generate an income from events if it falls into a state of disrepair.

Walpole Old Chapel, in Halesworth Road, dates back to the 17th century and was originally a farmhouse before being converted into a non-conformist meeting house in 1649.

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An estimated £200,000 is needed to fund vital repair works Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDAn estimated £200,000 is needed to fund vital repair works Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Despite suffering religious repression in its early years until the Act of Toleration in 1689, the chapel became a space used by nearby residents for private worship.

The building has been part of Walpole for more than 400 years and has been a place of continuous worship for nearly 300 years.

The chapel formally closed in 1970 before becoming under the ownership of the Historic Chapels Trust in 1995.

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It is currently managed on a day-to-day basis by the Friends of Walpole Old Chapel and regularly hosts a range of ceremonies, including marriages, baptisms and funerals.

But Simon Weeks, secretary of the committee of the Friends of Walpole Old Chapel, said the exterior damage is hampering the group’s ability to rent out the building due to its appearance.

Mr Weeks also said visible deterioration is “getting worse and worse”, with the committee aiming to begin work on repairing the chapel in 2022.

The revamp was due to begin next year - but the coronavirus pandemic coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has resulted in the postponement of any fundraising events.

The Friends of Walpole Old Chapel are planning to raise cash for the project - estimated to cost as much as £200,000 - with more events over the next year, but believe the bulk of the funds will need to come from national heritage grants.

Mr Weeks said: “This is an ambitious project, but we are sure that there are significant benefits to be realised for the local community and further afield.

“This is all in keeping with the historical roots of the chapel that has always been at the heart of this community.

“This is just the start of the project and we are encouraging as many people as possible to get involved.”

MORE: Former village chapel to be converted into a home


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