There was a Unitarian Chapel on this site in Belper since 1689. The present chapel is a Grade II* building erected in 1788 by Jedediah Strutt with his own private entrance and approach road. It is of two storeys constructed from ashlar with a hipped slate roof. The façade to Field Row has a round arched entrance with a keystone and an external cantilevered stone staircase leads to the first floor. The façade to Short Row has a two storey gabled porch. The interior retains the original tiered boxed in pews beneath which is an arched catacomb. Jedediah Strutt is thought to be buried here. Chapel Cottage lies partly beneath the choir seating. (1)
The manufacturer Jedediah Strutt erected the Unitarian chapel in 1788. The building, of squared stone with hipped slate roofs, was originally rectangular with the entrance at the south end; this has a round-arched opening with triple keystone and above it, approached by an external cantilevered stone staircase, is a gallery doorway dated 1788, between two upper windows. Two round-arched windows in the north wall flank the former site of the pulpit, beyond which is a low vestry. East and west wings were added to the chapel, probably by 1800 and in a similar style. The interior has a south gallery. Box-pews rise steeply in the east and west wings and below the latter is a burial vault with 32 compartments, mostly empty. (2)
The Unitarian Chapel on Field Row was built by Jedediah Strutt and, apart from the mills, is believed to have been one of the first buildings which he constructed in Belper. Sometime after his arrival in Belper Jedediah adopted the Unitarian faith. The building is a striking example of austere nonconformist architecture built in ashlar with a hipped slate roof. The Chapel was extended on each side early in the 19th century so that in its present form it is three times its original size. The façade to Field Row has a round-arched entrance with a keystone. An external cantilevered stone staircase gives access at first floor level to the gallery. A marble plaque commemorates the life of Jedediah Strutt. The catacomb below the chapel contains the remains of a number of members of the Strutt family including, it is thought, Jedediah himself. The Chapel cottage which adjoins is thought to have been built soon after the Chapel itself, though the kitchen extension, which is housed in a vaulted space beneath the Chapel, cannot have been constructed until the Chapel was extended early in the 19th century. (3)
Jedediah Strutt was buried here, as were members of the two succeeding generations. (4)
Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England. List entry number 1348701.
Bibliographic reference: RCHME (Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England). 1986. An Inventory of Nonconformist Chapels and Meeting-houses in Central England - Derbyshire extract. p. 33-34.
Unpublished document: Derwent Valley Mills (DVM) Nomination Steering Panel. 2000. Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage List Nomination Document. p 66, illust..
Bibliographic reference: Belper Historical Society. 1966-1970. Belper a study of its history based on visual evidence.. p. 19.
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