Sunday School Stories Project

Sunday School Stories Project

13 October 2022

We are delighted to announce that Union Chapel has been awarded a grant of £1,054,500 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for our Sunday School Stories project.

Made possible by National Lottery players, this three-year project will deliver an engaging activity programme co-created with and for the community as well as essential repairs to the Grade II* listed Sunday School building. Alongside this, an archive of some of the greatest moments in Union Chapel’s history will be created - particularly poignant as this year we celebrate our 30th anniversary as one of the world’s best music venues.

The Sunday School building 

Union Chapel’s Sunday School sits alongside the well-known Grade I listed Gothic Revival chapel designed by Thomas Cubitt and is one of only a few remaining Akron plan halls.  Unfortunately, the Sunday School building has fallen into disrepair and without urgent intervention, it would face further dilapidation. Through this project, the unique architecture and heritage of the building will be preserved and brought back to life for the community to use.

Creating an archive of Union Chapel’s legacy

The Sunday School has a huge undocumented archive of records, books, artefacts and memorabilia from the last 200 years. The archive is an untapped treasure trove of stories. It tells the tales of nonconformists and their 100-year journey from persecuted minority to being part of the establishment and of Union Chapel’s unique history as one of the UK’s most respected music venues.

The project will transform the currently decaying, inaccessible collection into a restored and fully catalogued archive for the first time inviting the community to discover the everyday life at Union Chapel with insights into the lives of real local people and their ambitions for a better world. 

Community at the heart

The community will be able to get involved throughout this project, whether as a volunteer to help discover lost history or by taking part in a pre-gig heritage tour. The people of Islington have been integral to the history of Union Chapel and will continue to be so to bring the Sunday School back to life. Once the project is complete, it will be returned to the community as a space that everyone can enjoy.

Stuart McLeod, Director England - London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“We are delighted to support Union Chapel with their Sunday School Stories project. The restoration of the building for the community and creation of an amazing legacy through the archive is a fitting way to celebrate their 30th anniversary as a music venue. 
The National Lottery Heritage Fund is the UK’s largest investors in heritage. Now more than ever, investing in heritage is a top priority for us, particularly as a result of the pandemic. Thanks to National Lottery players, we can invest in projects such as this where it improves people’s lives and makes communities better places to live.”

Michael Chandler, Union Chapel Project CEO, said:

“We are very grateful to the Heritage Fund for this grant. The Sunday School Stories capital and activity programme is an incredibly exciting moment for us at Union Chapel. An opportunity for us to reflect on 30 years as a venue and a charity, and over 200 years of Nonconformist history through the Church, with an incredible role in social justice across the years. And an opportunity for us to look to the future, coming out of the last few incredibly difficult years and looking ahead at an ongoing challenging world with a revitalised commitment to culture, community, social justice and celebrating all of our rich important heritage. Creating this vital, unique space open to all - for supporting and empowering communities, for supporting upcoming talent and for creating a blueprint for genuine creative, community cocreation and change to address injustices – is vital now and for our future”



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Watch the ITV News piece of the announcement below for a sneak peek of what's to come

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