New Grant for Walpole Old Chapel Suffolk
Historic England has awarded a grant of £54,126 for urgent investigation into the condition of the Grade II* listed Walpole Old Chapel in Halesworth, Suffolk.
From the outside, Walpole Old Chapel has the appearance of a Suffolk farmhouse and may have originally been a domestic dwelling.
The building was first used as a congregational chapel in 1649. In 1689, a 99-year lease was obtained by the independent congregation and the building extended to the rear to provide a large space for worship.
Archaeological evidence uncovered during repair works in the late 20th century suggests that prior to the extension, the original building had already been changed and fitted out as a chapel with galleries upstairs. The interior fittings are largely from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The two-storey timber-framed building is a simple rectangular shape. Inside, the space is dominated by the pulpit, a reading desk and balconies. Two large windows either side of the pulpit illuminate the simple and sparsely decorated chapel.
The building is at risk due to large cracks in the external render, which is allowing rainwater into the timber frame and through to the inside of the chapel.
The urgent investigation work will provide detailed information about the cause of the problem as well as advice on the next steps needed to repair and restore the building.
At the heart of village life
The chapel has been part of Walpole village life for more than 400 years and continues to play an important role in the community life of the village.
The chapel was formally closed in the 1970s. It is now owned by the Historic Chapels Trust and is used for weddings, services, performances and as a heritage tourist attraction. The chapel is cared for by The Friends of Walpole Old Chapel, a dedicated group of volunteers.
The Friends of Walpole Old Chapel are looking for new volunteers to join the team – find out more at https://walpoleoldchapel.org/support-us/get-involved/
Walpole Old Chapel is a historic gem and a rare survival of a 17th century non-conformist chapel. This urgent investigation will help us to learn more about the structural issues that are endangering this special building and will hopefully be the first step in saving the chapel for the local community who enjoy and cherish it.