Fulwood Old Chapel - a unitarian meeting place
8a Whiteley Lane, Fulwood, Sheffield S10 4GL www.fulwood-old-chapel.org.uk [email protected]
Carrying on clockwise round the chapel, on the north wall there is a small embroidered sampler dating back to 1843, and a banner lovingly appliquéd by the Women’s League and ladies of the congregation in the 1990’s for use at the denomination’s annual meetings. Next to this is a simple plaque made of Welsh slate, placed there to commemorate the 250th Anniversary celebrations.
Looking at the two northern windows, you will see that they are splayed unequally – an ingenious way to provide maximum lighting (candles and daylight being, of course, the only illumination in the 1700’s). Between these windows, the pulpit originally stood with a sounding board above and flanked by high backed box pews. Under the floor by the organ are still original steps leading from a back door (now bricked up) which would have been on the same level as the back of the Manse. Some believe that the preacher entered the building via these steps to reach the pulpit. In the centre of the floor would have been a large potbellied stove providing much needed heat. Looking up towards the ceiling you can still see the elaborate ventilation hole which, from the outside, resembles a small bell tower. Later the pulpit was moved to the east wall and at the end of the 19th century the platform was built.
In 1953, the oak communion table replaced the old altar – a simple wooden table along with a new organ screen, reading stand, pulpit, and communion rails. The two chairs at either side of the altar are later additions.
On the small table is a glass oil candle on an oak base. This represents the Unitarian Chalice – the symbol of our worldwide family and is often lit during the Sunday service
The electric organ is relatively new. The original was a wheezy old harmonium which was replaced in 1946 by an Aeolian Orchestrelle (an elaborate roll-playing reed organ) and again replaced in the 1970’s by a Copeman Hart electric organ and then by the modern one you can see today.
Originally, on either side of the altar, there were two windows to match those on the west wall which were blocked up when the manse was built. Their faint outline can just be seen in the plaster, the one to the right of the organ being the most defined.
In the right hand corner of the platform is a small oak cabinet (cunningly disguising the controls for the central heating). Its handle is a beautifully carved mouse (but was done by a local carpenter, John Simpson and not Mouseman Thompson).
Stepping down from the altar platform you will see a small door in the south wall, now hidden by a curtain. It is thought that the congregation was originally segregated with the men coming through what is now the main door and the women and children through this one. Because of the raising of the floor, this door can now only be opened by lifting what looks like a trap door. Under this are 2 large stone slabs some 6“ lower than the existing floor and probably part of the original flooring.
Between the two windows is the Gilbody Challenge shield which was, in the past, presented each year to the winning chapel of the district Sunday School competition. Above is a wooden chalice.
Going back outside, you will see at each corner of the chapel windows the remains of the original shutter hinges. To one side, at the bottom of each of the two doors, is the remains of what may have been boot scrapers.
The lovely southerly facing garden once housed the burial ground but this was removed and the garden reduced in 1929 to accommodate the widening of the lane. In one corner are the Ancient Village Stocks given to the Chapel for safe keeping during this transition and where they still remain to this day! – a favourite with both children and adults alike
Fulwood Old Chapel - a unitarian meeting place
Whiteley Lane, Fulwood, Sheffield S10 4GL www.fulwood-old-chapel.org.uk
Entering through the main door with its original stone mullion you enter the oak porch, a comparatively new addition having been built in 1959. Entering the Chapel itself you step up onto a wooden floor. The original floor, which would have been on the same level as the outer entrance, was of stone and the slabs may well still be there.
To your left, on the west wall, hang two oak panels on either side of the entrance to the old schoolroom. These were donated in 1959 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Chapel’s re-opening in 1934 and hide the remnants of 2 windows, (just seen if you peer round the sides of the panels). Their recesses are now used as cupboards in the adjoining room which originally was the Old Schoolroom but is now used for social functions. Junior Chapel now has its quarters in the newly refurbished stable at the back of the Chapel. The clock hanging above the oak door opening onto the Old Schoolroom is in memory of Alfred Osbourne (1894-1970), a former chapel secretary.