Building Name

Mill Hill Unitarian Chapel Park Row/City Square Leeds.

1846 - 1848
Park Row
Yorkshire, England
New build
Grade II*

The present building was designed by Bowman and Crowther, an elegant gothic building that replaced the original 17th century chapel.  More typically nonconformist but with a large chancel. The foundation stone was laid 26th April 1847 by Alderman Hamer Stansfield. The Chapel was built from stone quarried from Meanwood and Potternewton and built at a cost of £7,300. Opened 27th December 1848. During the course of building, services were held at Call Lane Chapel. Graveyard was removed due to building of adjacent shopping centre, although some headstones were re-laid (incorporated into paving) in 1978.

TO BUILDERS – Persons desirous of contracting for the whole or several works required in the erection of a NEW CHAPEL upon and near the site of the old one, called the Mill Hill Chapel, situated in Park Row Leeds, may see the drawings and specification at the School Room in Basinghall Street, adjoining the Chapel Yard on or after the 16th day of February instant and until Saturday the 27th day of the same month, between the hours of ten and five. Messrs Bowman and Crowther, the architects, witll be present on Tuesday the 16th and following day to afford all requisite information. Sealed tenders are to be sent to Hamer Stansfield Esq on or before Wednesday 3rd March at 12 o’clock at noon. [Leeds Intelligencer 20 February 1847 page 1]

THE NEW UNITARIAN CHAPEL, MILL HILL - The ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the new Unitarian Chapel, at Mill Hill, took place on Monday last in the presence of a large number of persons, including many of the most respectable residents of Leeds. The chapel is to be built in the Gothic style of the thirteenth century and will consist of a nave with centre and side aisles, a chancel and a transept projecting from the centre of the nave It will be about 125 feet in length and 55 feet in breadth and the extreme height, of the transept front will be 60 feet. The body of the chapel will accommodate about 800 persons, and there will be a gallery in the south-east end for the benefit of the choir, and Sunday school children. The site of the new edifice is the same as the old Mill Hill Chapel and the principal frontage will be towards Park Row. A parchment roll bearing the annexed inscription:—"The corner-stone of this chapel, erected as a public place of religious worship by Protestant Dissenters from the Church of England, was laid on the 26th day of April, in the year of our Lord 1847; being the 10th year of the reign of Queen Victoria, by Hamer Stansfeld, Esq., chairman of the Building Committee, on the site of the old Mill Hill Chapel, which was erected from the indulgence of King Charles the Second, in the year of our Lord 1673." [Leeds Times 1 May 1847 page 3]

NEW UNITARIAN: CHAPEL, AT LEEDS. On Wednesday last was opened one of the handsomest chapels in the county of York. The erection stands nearly upon the site of the old Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds, and has a westerly front to Park-row; but can no longer, with propriety, be called Mill Hill Chapel, as it is now quite isolated from the part of the town called Mill Hill. The ancient chapel had a southerly aspect, and, probably, when built, in 1672, immediately after the Act of Indulgence, had an uninterrupted frontage to Mill Hill and the river, from which it is now separated by immense piles of buildings, intersected by a part of Boar-lane and Wellington-street., The English Presbyterians built the first chapel; but, towards the middle of the last century, its congregation had become Unitarian, and afterwards numbered amongst its pastors the celebrated Dr. Priestly. The chapel is of an oblong form, a hundred and ten feet in length (inside the walls) from north to south, and forty four feet in width from east to west, except where, the transept adds to the width, The nature of the ground and the position of graves have restricted the architects in the width of the building and other respects, in consequence of which the adoption of some features and measurements in the present plan has been a matter of necessity. The chapel is divided into centre and side aisles by two rows of pillars and arches, and has eight bays or compartments marked by the pillars: the bays on the east side being equal and similar, but the two central bays on the west side being united into one, and the space thus included being occupied by a single arch of larger and loftier dimensions than the rest. To the west of this arch the transept projects. The most northerly bay is separated from the rest by three lofty arches extending across the full width of the chapel, the space so cut off from the centre aisle forming the chancel (in which is placed the communion table), and on either side of the chancel a small vestry; these two latter places are shut out from the body of the chapel by carved wood screens, both towards the aisles and towards the chancel, the space above the screens being open to the chapel and forming small galleries. Externally, the building presents an appearance corresponding to its appellation of a chapel, no attempt having been made to impart to it in any degree the character of a church, as it has neither spire nor tower. The style of architecture adopted in the building is the Late Pointed, or ecclesiastical style in its later development, as it prevailed in this country during the fifteenth century, and frequently called the Perpendicular. The interior of the chapel corresponds with what the passer-by might expect from its outward appearance. Tile pillars are clustered, and are, with the, moulded arches, all of solid stone, of light and elegant proportions; and it may be generally remarked, that both materials and workmanship are in all respects genuine and substantial, and of the best description. The only gallery, besides the two smaller ones before mentioned, is one extending across the full width at the south end; this is confined within the first pillars, and does not, therefore, appear obtrusive. This gallery is intended for the organ, choir, and the boys of the Sunday school. The roofs both of centre and side aisles are open to the interior. There are no tie beams, but the roofs are strengthened by carved braces of timber, which meet in the centre and form pointed arches supported on carved stone corbels. The seats are low, all arranged to face the north or chancel end, having standards terminated with what are technically called "poppy heads,” of different designs. The pulpit is placed on the east side of the chancel and close to the pillar. It is octagonal in form, decorated with shafts and arches, and is of stone. The north window, surmounting the communion table, and forming the centre of the view when standing at the south end and looking north is filled with very beautiful stained glass, designed and executed by Warrington of London, who occupies a very eminent position in this department of art. The central figure is that of our Lord, with, St Matthew and St  Mark on one side, and St John and St Luke on the other. Below the transom are, St. Peter in the centre, and on either side St. Paul, Thomas, Andrew, and James the Less; each figure holding, his peculiar emblem of mission or martyrdom. Besides this, there is a smaller painted window, by the same artist. The building- is heated by a carefully arranged hot-water apparatus, and is to be lighted by three chandeliers, suspended from the roof in the nave, and by side-lights in the aisles. The architects are Messrs. Bowman and Crowther, of Manchester, the former of whom is joint editor of a work "On the Ecclesiastical Architecture of Great Britain." The principal artificers engaged in the work are Messrs Wilson, Hillas, Mawr, Bates and Adams, Brunton, Robinson and Preston. Some things are still wanting to complete the decoration and convenience of the interior, and to finish the building and outer wall. The total cost of the chapel in its present state, is upwards of £7,000, which has been defrayed by the congregation, so that it will be opened without debt.  [Preston Chronicle 30 December 1848 page 3]

Reference    Leeds Intelligencer 20 February 1847 page 1 - contracts
Reference    Leeds Times 1 May 1847 page 3 – foundation stone
Reference    Leeds intelligencer 1 May 1847 Page 5 –foundation stone
Reference    Preston Chronicle 30 December 1848 page 3 - opening
Reference    Leeds Times 23 December 1848 page 5
Reference    Leeds Intelligencer 23 December 1848 page 5
Reference    Morning Post  25 December 1848 page 3

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