Wampool Lane, Silloth CA7
A simple mid-Victorian Gothic chapel, built for Congregational use, which is of local interest and makes a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the conservation area.
The building was originally a Congregational church, opened in December 1862. Local Catholics were established in a temporary building in 1932. On 5 June 1950 the parish priest Fr Ryan wrote to the bishop:
‘The Congregational chapel here is to be sold in the near future. It can accommodate 300 people and has a vestry…It would be fatal to any hope we may have of acquiring the place if I showed myself interested, or if any clerical collar was seen near the place…’
Despite such perceived hostilities, the chapel was acquired in 1953. Writing again to the bishop on 10 January 1953, Fr Ryan described it thus:
‘It is a very solid building with plenty of material for the necessary accommodation of the sanctuary. It is plentifully benched. Apparently this brand of our separated brethren did not kneel. There are no kneelers’.
The building is a single-storey rectangle faced in roughcast render under a slate roof. There are paired lancet windows in each of the four bays, separated by buttresses. The main entrance, facing approximately northeast, is through a pair of doors. This is flanked by two paired lancets and, above, a larger divided into seven lights. A belfry tops the gable over the south entrance. Above each window are plain hoodmoulds. It appears that the exterior was not originally rendered; Fr Ryan described the building as ‘brick faced in cement’. Otherwise, the exterior remains little altered since 1862.
The main entrance doors lead to an internal porch with access to the main body of the church in both its east and west sides. The interior is a single, rectangular volume with two aisles. The sanctuary, with a c1950s canopy, altarpiece, altar and platform, is at the southwest end. The painted and panelled ceilings of the interior slope up to a flat ceiling above the aisles. Other than the Stations of the Cross around its walls and a delicately-crafted statue of the Virgin Mary to the west of the altar, the decoration is limited. To the east of the altar is a door to the sacristy and presbytery. There is no stained glass. Apart from possibly the pews (referred to in Fr Ryan’s correspondence with the bishop), Congregational fittings, including the pulpit, have been removed.
According to Fr Irving, the presbytery (attached by a link to the southern end of the church) was built during the 1980s. It includes the sacristy, a meeting space, small kitchen and a two-bed flat which was originally for the resident priest. Now, it is used to accommodate visiting priests.
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1862
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed