Building record MDR9773 - Lea Chapel, Lea Main Road, Lea

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Lea Chapel was built c. 1690 as a Protestant Dissenter chapel and maintained later by the Nightingales of Lea Hall (1732). The internal fittings are old and well-preserved. It was enlarged and modernised at the porch entrance in 1958. It is possibly one of the five oldest chapels in England. (1) Lea Chapel is a Grade II early 19th century Non-Conformist Chapel. It is single storey, of three bays with a gallery to the west end, constructed from coursed squared gritstone on a shallow plinth, with quoins, plain gables, a slated roof and crested clay ridge tiles. An entrance porch was added to the west end in 1956. The interior retains the gallery and 19th century pews. (2) A Presbyterian congregation was meeting at 'Dethick-chappel' in the early 18th century and a meeting-house certificate issued July 1719 for the house of Thomas Nightingale at Lea may relate to the same society. The early history of Lea Chapel is obscure but it appears to have originated with Presbyterians, although now occupied by an Independent church. The chapel is a long narrow building of sandstone with a slate roof. Three four-centred arched windows in the north wall with intersecting tracery indicate a major reconstruction of the early 19th century but masonry at the east end of this wall may be the remains of an early 18th century building. A late 19th century schoolroom covers part of the south side. (3) The earliest indication of the date of erection of the chapel is a date-stone of 1671 on what is now the chapel-keeper's cottage. Below it is the rebuilding date of 1897 around which time the Sunday School room was added to the present chapel. The building was erected as a Protestant meeting house and was maintained by the Nightingale family as their 'private' chapel as they practised the Unitarian creed. In 1735 the chapel was bequeathed to a body of local trustees by the will of Thomas Nightingale. In 1845 it became part of the Matlock United Methodist Free Church circuit. However, in 1920 it was withdrawn from the Methodist movement and became an Evangelical independent chapel. In 1958 a covered entrance was built to replace the 'open yard' and the original outside steps to the Chapel gallery were replaced with an inside stairway. (4)

Sources/Archives (4)

  • <1> Unpublished document: County Treasure Recording Form. 10(b).2, with photo.
  • <2> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England. List entry number 1335321.
  • <3> 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 47.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Leafe, C J. 2003. 'The Protestant Dissenting Chapel at Lea', in Lea Free Chapel by George Wigglesworth. 3-4.



Grid reference Centred SK 3300 5753 (18m by 15m)

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Record last edited

Dec 21 2018 9:27AM

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