Press Release 17-2-15

Tolpuddle’s Historic Former Methodist Chapel Acquired

A Grade II* listed former Methodist Chapel built in 1818 in Tolpuddle, Dorset has been purchased by a newly formed Building Preservation Trust helped by funds and expert advice from English Heritage.

Emergency repairs to stabilise the cob walls and to make the building wind and water tight started today (Tuesday 17th February 2015), funded by a £9500 grant from English Heritage and managed by the Tolpuddle Old Chapel Trust (TOCT). It is hoped that the major conservation works will be completed by 2018 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the opening of the building.

Andrew McCarthy, Chairman of The Tolpuddle Old Chapel Trust (TOCT), said: “We are committed to sympathetically restoring this historically important former chapel which was once used for worship by at least four of the six Tolpuddle Martyrs and three of them may well have preached from its pulpit”

Andrew continued: “We are grateful to English Heritage and other partners who are helping to save this unique building for future generations to visit and enjoy. We look forward to consulting local people about possible future uses for the building once renovation work is complete. ”

Sarah Ball, Heritage at Risk Architect for English Heritage in the South West said: “We are very pleased that the Tolpuddle Old Chapel Trust has now secured ownership of this fascinating former chapel. The building is of real and very great historical interest. Our grant will enable much needed emergency work to be carried out to ensure its structural stability. We are looking forward to working with the Trust as they explore sympathetic and sustainable new uses and the repair of the building.”

Gavin Richards of AHF said “The Architectural Heritage Fund exists to support the re-use of redundant historic buildings around the UK. We are delighted to support a new local Trust in its efforts to bring this modest yet internationally important building back into sustainable use and, ultimately, see it removed from the Heritage at Risk Register.”

The development of the former Chapel will also help to enhance the visitor and tourist experience as part of the ‘rural life’ heritage corridor linking Dorchester with Hardy’s Birthplace, Athelhampton House and Tolpuddle. The former Chapel is featured on the new Audiovisual Trail being developed by the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum. ( http://www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk)

The continued existence of this chapel can be confirmed through to 1843, and it may well have remained in use until a new village Methodist chapel was built in 1862-63. For the next 150 years it has been used for agricultural purposes.

Further press information available from Andrew McCarthy email:
tolpuddleoctrust@btinternet.com

Debbie Hickman, Communications, English Heritage on 020 7973 3855 on
Debbie.hickman@english-heritage.org.uk

Gavin Richards, Development Manager The Architectural Heritage Fund
gavin.richards@ahfund.org.uk
www.ahfund.org.uk

Bridport and Dorchester Methodist Circuit
Superintendent Minister Revd Stephanie Jenner stephanie.jenner@methodist.org.uk
www.bridportanddorchester.org.uk

Steele Raymond LLP Solicitor SueAdams@steeleraymond.co.uk
www.steeleraymond.co.uk

Notes to editors:

TOLPUDDLE OLD CHAPEL TRUST
Tolpuddle Old Chapel Trust is a Registered Charity, Number 1159578 and a Registered Company, Number 8908950
The Trustees are:
Andrew McCarthy, Chairman,

Robert Brunt, Secretary
Revd Stephanie Jenner
Adrian Whittlesea
The objects of the Tolpuddle Old Chapel Trust are:
‘The preservation, maintenance and renovation of the grade II* listed former Methodist Chapel and its site in Tolpuddle, Dorset and its historical, architectural and constructional heritage, for the benefit of the people of Tolpuddle and of the Nation.’

SUPPORT
The Trust has also received financial support from:
The Architectural Heritage Fund awarded a grant for a Project Viability Report
Dorset County Council awarded a grant to support project development
Bridport and Dorchester Methodist Circuit have kindly provided a loan and assigned the time of their Superintendent Minister to be a Trustee.
Steele Raymond LLP, Solicitors kindly provided legal support and advice in relation to the acquisition.

THE BUILDING
The building is mainly built of cob on brick and stone/flint bases.
The roof has double roman clay tiles.
The original door leading from the road is blocked with an infill window with a boarded hatch above it.
There is a beautiful original central pointed arched window opening on the rear wall which is blocked with brickwork.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FORMER CHAPEL
The chapel was used for worship by at least four of the six Tolpuddle Martyrs, and three of them may well have preached from its pulpit. The continued existence of this chapel can be confirmed through to 1843, and it may well have remained in use until a new village Methodist chapel was built in 1862-63. For the next 150 years it has been used for agricultural use.
The 1999 English Heritage report on the building by David Robinson states:
“Apart from the historical significance of the site, the simple and austere architecture of the chapel should not be underestimated. It is an example of a small rural Methodist building.

Gallery

External Views before Emergency Repairs

Views after Emergency Repairs

More Photos