The Friends of the Chantry Chapel



In 1990 a steering commitee was set up to devise a constitution for a "Friends", to look at the needs of the building and ways of raising finance to secure a future for the Chantry.

The Lady St. Oswald, of Nostel Priory, the Bishop of Wakefield, and the Right Honourable Walter Harrison (then MP for Wakefield) agreed to become Patrons for the group.

John Gilbey (1924-2001) was elected as the chairman of the Friends with Ray Perraudin (1911-1995) as the secretary. The Friends's aims were twofold : to raise funds for the repair and maintenance of the building and to make it more widely known. An appeal was launched for £100,000. By 1994 the Friends had effected major repairs to the roof of the chapel and in 1995 the building was fully re-wired and new light and heating systems were installed by electrical engineer David Littlewood. As part of major repairs to the stonework, undertaken in 1996, the south side of the Chantry was provided with new stone heads, sculptured by John Schofield and portraying the Bishop of Wakefield, the Right Reverend Nigel McCullough, Right Hon. Walter Harrison, the Lady St Oswald, Ray Perraudin, Canon Bryan Ellis and a nameless stonemason. This phase of work was carried out by William Anelay's of York.

Many individuals and local business, as well as grant-making trusts, have made generous donations to the appeal. To raise further funds the Friends have organized open days, principally at public holiday weekends, and have arranged talks, concerts and dramatic productions in the Chantry itself. There have been a series of garden parties where the gardens of the Bishop's Lodge and Mr & Mrs Harrison have been opened for a day.

The Friends have always aimed not simply to return the Chantry to a state of good repair, but to ensure that an endowment fund was created to provide for its future maintenance. It was excellent news when the St Andrews Parochial Church Council was advised in 1998 that under the will of Mrs Ruth Hepworth, a sum in the region of £44,000 had been left to "the Guardians or Trustees for the time being' of the Chantry in the hope that it would be utilised 'for the upkeep of the fabric'.

..................... has shown the Chantry to be both prized as a part of Wakefield's heritage and a perennial problem because of its decaying masonry and its continuing role as a place of worship with the need to provide services there but, usually, with only modest congregations. It is in part a story of frustration and friction but it is also a story of achievement and triumph. Ty the time Kate's book was ready for printing, the Friends' target of £100,000 had been almost reached but much of the money raised had been spent on repairs and renewal. To avoid the financial strains of the past, a futher very substantial sum will be needed to create a capital endowment sufficient to yield an income that will be adequate to meet the future costs of repair and maintenance. The proposed developments at Wakefield waterfront, designed to enhance the cultural attraction of the area, may quicken greater interest in the chapel and suggest a new role for the building.

extracted from Kate Taylor's book "This Pious Undertaking : the Chantry Chapel of St Mary the Virgin on Wakefield Bridge in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries"



Friends of the Chantry Chapel information










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