Vote for us as the Best Loved building at SPAB Heritage Awards 2022

Vote for us as the Best Loved building at SPAB Heritage Awards 2022

21 September 2022

We're thrilled to announce that we've been shortlisted for Best Loved public building in the SPAB Heritage Awards 2022. Learn more about the awards and vote for your favourite here by 31st October

The SPAB’s (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) expert judges have shortlisted a range of wonderful buildings cherished by their communities and owners. The Best Loved Award is for the buildings that have been kept in good repair, that are well-maintained and loved by the community and/or their owner, and is voted for by the public. 

Smiling construction workers on scaffolding next to a Gothic Victorian chapel


Union Chapel's nonconformist Christian beginnings in 1799 saw the current Chapel completed in 1877 by leading Victorian architect James Cubitt who delivered a space with first class acoustic quality, uninterrupted view of the pulpit from all seats, and a Sunday School for 900 students a week - often compared to a small cathedral. The complex comprises the Grade I Listed Chapel and its Grade II* ancillary buildings - the Sunday School, Lecture Halls, Committee Room, Vestry and the Caretaker House - and is home to an award-winning venue, a radical church, a unique and historic organ, and The Margins Project that offers support to those in crisis in our commuinity.

Flower shaped church window fading from broken glass into restored stained glass

During WWII, Union Chapel suffered bomb damage, and over time its congregation steadily declined. Years of neglect caused major decay and by the early 1980s the building was under threat of demolition. The local community made a major effort to save the building, birthing the Friends of Union Chapel, and concerts were held in the building to finance urgent repairs and maintenance works. In 1991 the Church founded Union Chapel Project (UCP); our charity organisation in charge of the maintenance and repairs of the building. Since then, great work has been done to repair the building, reduce the reactive maintenance, increase planned maintenance, preserve and make the building safe. In the last 30 years, UCP has been able to repair most of the building using traditional materials and techniques, plus ensure crucial regular maintenence. 

Watch videos of our building conservation work in our playlist below

The current building and future plans are the product of collaboration from all those who have been involved with the chapel since it was first built including:

•    The church that embraced and tested innovative ways to provide income for the preservation of the building 
•    The Victorian client, designer and builders 
•    The caretakers 
•    The community who came together to save the building 
•    The many volunteers, including the Board members, Friends and skilled and knowledgeable professionals and craftsmen involved in the maintenance and repair of this gem.
•    Union Chapel staff
•    Funders who believe in Union Chapel
•    Our audience that by buying tickets contributes to the maintenance of the building

All the careful work, understanding of the original materials used, passion and support that those involved to preserve this building and helping to maintain its non-conformist heritage for all community. 

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