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Abandoned or Converted Churches and Chapels

Updated on October 2, 2015

Former Churches and Chapels retain their Dignity and Elegance

The religious revival in the 19th century in the United Kingdom was accompanied by the splintering of the established Church into many Christian denominations which caused the building of many more church buildings. Many were quite small, many for sects that have since merged or disappeared or were built for too small a community, many were built in town centers where the populations have since moved away so these have have been sold or abandoned, see more reasons why churches close down below. At the same time new churches with modern facilities and parking have been built to replace them.

This lens is a photo record of these former churches which retain their elegance and dignity, it also includes churches which are still consecrated but have only occasional services.

Many people search for deconsecrated churches for sale learn more click here

St James Church Bix Bottom Abandoned in 1875

James Church Bix Bottom Abandoned in 1875
James Church Bix Bottom Abandoned in 1875

These ruins now stand isolated from any community. The church was abandoned in 1875 when it was rebuilt closer to the current village of Bix adjacent to the Henley to Nettlebed road. The road through Bix Bottom had been in earlier times on a through route. The Church ruins have been used for a Hammer Horror Film

Former Primitive Methodist Chapel at Brize Norton

This has been converted into a modern home. The Primitive Methodists eventually reintegrated into the mainstream Methodist Church

Former Primitive Church at Standlake Oxfordshire

This chapel is closed with old curtains dangling from the windows but it's still an elegant building situated on a small green in Standlake which true to its name is surrounded by water.

Abandoned Chapel at Standlake Green now being Converted

The back of the chapel has been converted into two floors for kitchen, bathroom, bedroom etc. The front living area has retained the full height of the chapel. A father and son are converting it they are in the conversion trade (Whites Property Services) so they know what needs doing. The chapel closed about 10 years ago and has since served as a temporary village and provided shelter during the last floods.

Church Preservation Societies - Find Your local Church or Chapel

These links are both for those interested in Church architecture and preservation, tourism or history plus those interested in finding a local church of their denomination

Abandoned Chapel at Lew in Oxfordshire - Denomination Unknown

Lew is a hamlet with a population of just 62! A prefect example of a church built for too small a locality

Isolated Church near Old Shifford - Still has irregular services

This Church of England is situated in a beautiful but isolated location. It has roughly fortnightly services. It was a mystery to me as to why it was built here so far from any population but see below. The River Thames is just down the hill but the river prevents anyone from approaching from the south.

SHIFFORD, a chapelry, in the parish and hundred of Bampton, union of Witney, county of Oxford, 6 miles (S. E.) from Witney; containing 52 inhabitants. It appears from a Saxon MS. in the Cottonian library, that Alfred the Great held one of his first councils here, probably on a piece of ground near the chapel, called Court Close. The chapel is an ancient structure.

It is said that there were once seven churches and many inns here, there was also a Holy Well, which has since disappeared. The road across the fields from Standlake to Old Shifford is called Hlaew-Paeth meaning Burial Road.

Marvellous Abandoned Chapel at Cote Oxfordshire

This chapel is maintained by the Historic Chapel Association. The chapel may be hired for receptions and meetings

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Deconsecrating a Church or Chapel

How to Deconsecrate a Church

Deconsecration is the act of removing a religious blessing from something that had been previously consecrated by a minister or priest of that religion. In fact surprisingly the building itself appears to have little significance the most import is the remove the religious paraphernalia.

If a sacred place is to be given over permanently for profane uses, the competent ordinary should first issue a decree in writing, directed to the person responsible for the sacred place, stating that the place in question is no longer a sacred place and has by the decree lost its dedication or blessing. The issuance of the decree is subject ot the rules for individual administrative acts and individual decrees (cc. 35-47, 48-58), and recourse may be taken against it if a person, physical or juridic, is aggrieved by it. Although a sacred place also loses its dedication or blessing when in fact it has been permanently given over for secular purposes, this is not a legal option for omitting a decree but simply a provision of law in case a decree is not issued. A decree should be issued because it recognizes the authority of the ordinary who had the competence to establish the sacred place, it leaves no uncertainty about the status of the place, and it allows the possibility of recourse

St Oswald at Widford which has lost its village - Still consecrated but very few services

Widford was a substantial village in the Middle Ages but today only the 16th century Manor house and a few other houses remain. St. Oswald's stands in a field whose cropmarks show the outlines of former buildings. Very small but marvelous church with wall paintings, strange cell-like boxes for privileged families, just 3 services a year. What's more this was once an isolated part of Gloucestershire, that means it was surrounded by Oxfordshire. A must visit. The little church overlooks the Windrush River. Part of the flooring is from a Roman Villa. The visit can be included in a variety of local walks.

Bedford House School, Walton Street,Jericho,Oxford

This was actually a school: Bedford House School at 122 Walton Street* . I had this wrongly marked as a chapel ,. The school closed in 1930, and was used as a Somerville College lecture room until the mid-1950s. Between 1973 and 1976 it is listed in Kelly’s Directory as St Paul’s Sunday School. There is a web page that you can find using Google. (Thanks for Correction to Barney)

Converted Chapel Standlake, Oxfordshire

This is a large chapel turned into a large dwelling

Converted Methodist Chapel at Longworth Oxfordshire

Buy,Lease,Finance or Sell your Church or Chapel
Buy,Lease,Finance or Sell your Church or Chapel

Buy a former church or Chapel

Church Real Estate Realtors

In the USA there are Realtors dedicated to buying and selling Churches and Chapels they are expecting to sell a church for reuse as religious building but not necessarily the same denomination of course. You can buy Churches and Chapels or Lease them or Finance them.

Another Converted Chapel at Longworth Oxfordshire - Former Denomination Unknown

Primitive Methodist Chapel Converted into a Dwelling at Minster Lovell

Converted St Peters Church Crawley, The Cotswolds

This unusually is a closed Church of England church normally it is the non-conformist chapels which close. It is of unusual design more like a chapel than a church. The also closed adjacent school has also been incorporated into the the private home.

This church is at the end of a quiet lane in a small village overlooking the Windrush Valley and looking down on Crawley Carpet Mill also closed.

Reasons Why Churches and Chapels Close

  1. Breakaway Denomination

    During religious revivals passionate believers tend to create breakaway denominations, after many decades these tend to become as staid and settled as the church they originally broke away from, not being mainstream they struggle to get new younger members. They either reintegrate or close down.

  2. Population has moved away

    Many closed down chapels can be seen in run down or industrialized areas of town. The population has moved to the suburbs.

  3. Too Small, No Facilities,No Parking

    Churches have now become family-orientated, activity based, modern churches need kitchens, childcare facilities, meeting rooms, technical facilities for lectures, music, films etc. Large modern Churches provide all these things

  4. Catchment Area just too Small

    Many closed chapels are found in tiny villages. The population of these villages has changed from being mainly agricultural to well-off commuters who are often absent

Where to buy a closed church

Church numbers are declining but it is not the same for all faiths. Baptists and Roman Catholics have broadly held steady. The CoE in gentle decline while the Methodists have fallen dramatically.

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hello! I just wonder if anyone can help our church group to find an old/ abandoned church building for sale around Oxfordshire area, we are desperate to purchase one for us to use to conduct our worship services. Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: What were some of the unique idea with the converted one I recently purchased a small one in my community and would love to do something with it. I would like to restore the interior as much as possible but without the all the benches which I don't believe are no longer in it. My husband grew up in this town but I purchased not seeing the insed as of yet the deal is to close at the end of the month,

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Returning for the joy of getting to sprinkle angel dust over these beautiful old abandoned or converted churches and chapels....

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Methodist chapels have such a unique style don't they. The Cornish ones look very similar, no other sect has places of worship that look similar. Another great lens on aspects of living in Great Britain, blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Absolutely delightfully done. I've always thought it would be nice to be able to convert an old church into a home. I notice many have been converted to business use as well and they do make a lovely display for the arts community. I didn't know about the need for deconsecration and found that interesting. One of the facilities missing is many old churches is the bathroom, a modern convenience that we just are not willing to go without and then there's the plumbing need and possible well to dig in remote areas,

    • rhonney profile image

      rhonney 6 years ago

      nice one..!

    • thesuccess2 profile image

      thesuccess2 7 years ago

      @LouisaDembul: Gosh, a swimming pool must have been a big church, here in Oxford we've got a former chapel that is now a bar which seems a bit profane. Thanks for the first ever comment on this lens.

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 7 years ago

      Where I lived as a child, there was a church which had been converted into a public swimmingpool! It is always sad with abandoned buildings, so I guess it is better to put them to use. don't think I could live in a former chapel, though!