Skip to main content

Listed Building record MDR5340 - Elder Yard Unitarian Chapel, Elder Way, Chesterfield

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Elder Yard Unitarian Chapel, Elder Way, Chesterfield, built 1694. Elder Yard Chapel was built in 1694. 'Cornelius Clarke purchased from John Smith, a hatter; on 26th of October 1692, a parcel of land in or near to a place called Eller Yard, being part of a croft there formerly belonging to Humphrey Petty, deceased, and in size 40 yards by 23 yards. This said parcel of land the same Cornelius Clarke did so purchase with intent to erect a new building thereupon to be a place of meeting for Dissenting Protestants for religious worship. Upon this land accordingly Cornelius Clarke caused Elder Yard Chapel to be built'. The total cost of the land and erection of the building was £229 1Os 6d. There is a burial ground attached. (1) 'Elder Yard Chapel, Unitarian, Elder Way, 1694, but altered. The front has quoins, plain horizontal string-courses, a central door, and two low mullioned windows.' (2) A stone building of rubble walling with dressed stone detail and facing. The 17 or 18th century detail is as described by Authy. 2. A notice board gives the name ELDER YARD CHAPEL. See GP : AO/60/33/8 - Chapel from the south. (3) Unitarian Chapel, Saltergate, of 1694 with roughcast render over coursed stone with stone dressings. Grade 2*. A burial ground is attached to the chapel, the southern part of which, according to the listed building record, was being cleared in 1975.(4) 'The original building, completed in 1694, was of a plain rectangular shape about 50 feet long and 25 feet wide, with walls some 2ft 6ins thick. It was duly certified as a Dissenting Place of Worship at Derby Quarter Sessions on 17th April in that year. The earliest congregation was a mixture of Congregationalists and Presbyterians and a Minister for each was employed at the Chapel until 1721 when the Congregationalist Minister left. The few Congregationalist members who remained finally withdrew in 1772 upon the appointment of Rev. Thomas Astley, whose theological imperatives were decidedly Arian. The first reference to the building as 'The Unitarian Chapel' comes from a tradesman's bill dated 1818. By 1985 the Chapel was on the verge of closure. The old graveyard lay rank and derelict, strewn with the accumulated debris of 25 years of town centre re-development, and the ageing congregation had dwindled to a handful of faithful members. But an 11th hour appeal went out from the Chapel Secretary, Alan Ravey, and a remarkable transformation began. Within two years the congregation had quadrupled in number and many new fund-raising initiatives began to bear fruit. Plans were made for a new Peace Garden; lorry-loads of rubbish were removed and the derelict old graveyard was slowly transformed; long forgotten buried pathways were uncovered and restored; ornamental trees and shrubs were planted and seats were added; the Chapel was redecorated, and the vestry re-roofed. Former Unitarian minister Douglas Robson's remains are buried at the foot of the tree in the centre of the rear courtyard.' (6) From the National Heritage List for England: 'SALTERGATE 1. 5169 (South Side) Unitarian Chapel SK 3871 SW 1/23 15.7.71. II* GV 2. 1694. Roughcast render over coursed stone which is exposed on north and east sides. Stone dressings. Main facade faces south and is divided by quoins, into 1-3-1-1 bays, the wide bay slightly advanced under stone coped pediment. Hipped stone slab roof. 1 storey. Windows each have stone mullion and transom, painted stone architrave and leaded lights. Pediment has round window, frieze and cornice. Central segmental pediment door with panel in frieze and another in rusticated surround above. Western end facade faces Elder Way. 2 storeys of 2 windows each with 2 lights (no transoms). Qualified for II* because of architectural interest and quality, early date and historical interest. Interior modernized save for gallery. Churchyard with headstones (the southern part of the churchyard was being cleared in 1975). The churchyard forms a walled enclosure linked with that of the entrance block to north(qv). Gates and piers on west side of this to Elder Way. Listing NGR: SK3832571245.' (7)

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Ford, T. 1839. The History of Chesterfield.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Pevsner, N. 1953. The Buildings of England: Derbyshire, 1st edition. 98.
  • <3> Personal Observation: F1 WW 20-APR-60.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: DOE (HHR) Borough of Chesterfield Derby Sept 1977 66.
  • <5> Index: NDAT. 0707. 0707.
  • <6> *Internet Web Site: Peak District Online > Snapshots in Time > The Old Meeting House. Website viewed 16/08/2006.
  • <7> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England.



Grid reference SK 38325 71245 (point) (Centre)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR1248

Please contact the HER for details.

External Links (0)

Record last edited

Jul 29 2021 10:57PM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.