Tolpuddle – the original martyr’s Chapel saved
I remember from my schooldays in the 1960’s learning about the Tolpuddle martyrs. Little did I realise at the time their significance, both to the Church and to the Trade Unions. In recent years I have become more involved in the Tolpuddle festival and other things around the story, and have learnt that the current Methodist Chapel in the Village is not the one that was used by the martyrs, but that this original building was owned by a local farmer, had been used as a store and was falling in to disrepair.
This was a building significant architecturally, a particularly fine example of an early 19th century Methodist village Chapel, let alone its enormous historical significance as the spiritual home of those six men, who were motivated in their quest for justice by their faith. I received the news a few days ago that a Trust specially formed for the task has been successful in purchasing the building, and that work has already started through English Heritage to secure the building and bring the deterioration to a halt.
Herewith the text of the Press Release:
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. 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.
Contact David Wrighton, Team Leader, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org