The former Tattenhall Independent Congregational Chapel is located on the High Street and is now converted into modern apartments. The memorial foundation stone of this Non-Conformist Church was laid by Sir James Watts, High Sheriff of Lancashire, on 19 April 1871. The last service held in the building was in April 1962.
The history of the Congregational Chapel pre-dates this particular building. In the late 1700s, services were held in a thatched cottage ‘fitted up for the purpose and duly registered’. At that time, the Reverends Wilson and Silvester led the worship. As a relatively small ‘church’, it made perfect sense to join the ‘Congregational Union’ (established in 1806), the latter undertaking some of the administrative responsibilities.
The first substantial ‘Place of Worship’ which was ‘fit for purpose’ was opened on 18 August 1808. It was built on land provided by the Orton family who were local landowners. This ‘church building’ was located at the end of Chapel Lane (now known as Rosemary Row) and a house (known as the ‘Manse’) was also purchased for the Minister and his wife. The ‘church building’ survived until the late 20th century before being demolished and rebuilt as a house. The ‘Manse’ still stands as a converted private dwelling, located at the end of Rosemary Row.
With evidence of a Sunday School and a ‘good and increasing attendance’, the Congregational Church declared itself ‘independent’ of the Congregational Union and became known as the ‘Tattenhall Independent Chapel’. With this changed status, it also took on responsibility for its own affairs.
The list of incumbent Reverends during this time comprised: Rev Thomas Hitchin (1810-1818); Rev John Morris (1819-1862); Rev William Currie (1862-1863); and Rev Andrew C Todd (1865-1890), the salary of whom was not less that £100.
As the century progressed and with an increasing village population, the original Church was inappropriate in size but plans to move ‘to a more eligible spot’ were delayed because of Cattle Plague which swept the locality. However, when the British School was established and which then occupied the Church premises, there was an urgent need to find an alternative location. The ‘High Street’ was the obvious choice. Financial support was obtained from the Lancashire and Cheshire Chapel Building Society (£700), active fund raising totalled £600 and a direct appeal to the local community was launched. The success of these combined efforts resulted in the memorial foundation stone being laid on 19 April 1871 (see below). The hey-day of this new building was shortlived. A number of families moved out of the locality during the severe agricultural depression in the late 1880s. Furthermore, the Congregational Union had to intervene and provide financial support in the sum of £25 as the Church debts were paid off.
Whilst researching the Congregational Chapel, a remarkable photograph came to light (see below). The image is of the Congregational Church Boys’ Brigade. Not only is the image dated (1905) but the name of each individual is recorded on the reverse of the Postcard.
Back Row (left to right) Bert Langford, Frank Newport, Reverend Rogers, Joe Roscoe, Ernest Davenport, David Angus, Percy Breen.
Front Row (left to right) George Dodd, Fred Hodkinson, Willie Barnes, Alec Cooke, Reg Blything, Jack Hodkinson, Reg Adams
A number of Reverends were appointed up to an including 1960 during which time the ‘Manse’ was demolished and during which there was a Triple Jubilee Anniversary celebration held in May 1946, commemorating the beginnings of the Church in 1796. With falling congregational numbers, increasing upkeep, repair work and with the ongoing overheads, discussions took place regarding the closure of the Church. A resolution recommending the closure of the Church was submitted to the Tattenhall Church Committee on 15 February 1962.
The building was subsequently purchased by a commercial company, ‘Scientific Services’, during which time the Chapel was used as working space, whilst the area of the old Manse was used as a goods yard. The Chapel was then converted into a residential dwelling and two houses were also built on the site of the old Manse.
The New Congregational Chapel receives significant mention in the ‘Educational Provision’ section of the Website. Just click on ‘Educational Provision in Tattenhall’ to be directed to this section of the Website.