Abandoned or Converted Churches and Chapels
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
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
- Visit Beautiful & Historic Churches
The Churches Conservation Trust is the leading body conserving England's most beautiful and historic churches which are no longer needed for regular worship. It promotes public enjoyment of these churches, and encourages their use as an educational a
- Find A Church of England Church Near You
A Church Near You lists every church in the Church of England with accurate maps, contact information, service times.
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 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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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