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Stanton Lees Chapel – Church History

Stanton Lees Chapel – A Brief History

Stanton Lees Chapel - A view from aboveMany people passing through the small village of Stanton Lees have paused and read the dates carved in the stones on the front of the chapel building …

Built in1863
Rebuilt in 1898
Became Independent in 1971

We ask, why three definite dates for this Christian Church at Stanton Lees?

Built in 1863

As far as can be ascertained, preaching services were first conducted in a cottage occupied by a Mr. Samuel Howsley (where the  farmhouse now stands). In course of time, somewhere in the 1840’s, the meetings were removed to Mrs. William Stevenson’s cottage, opposite the chapel (middle cottage on the left). There are in existence Wesleyan Circuit Plans on which appear the name of Stanton Lees. One of the services was held at 10.30am, and the preachers, either walking, or riding on horseback, came from as far away as Wirksworth and Brassington etc. These preachers would move on to their other appointments for afternoon and evening services. In 1849 the assembly of the Lord’s people at Stanton Lees seceded from the Wesleyan Methodist body, and became affiliated with the Bakewell Wesleyan Reform Circuit in 1863. They then sent planned preachers to conduct worship in the cottage where approximately some 15 to 20 people met together. These dear believers formed the church at Stanton Lees during the 1840’s, 1850’s and the early 1860’s. Their spiritual leader was a Godly man named Mr. Edward Siddal, of Pilhough, and the mid-week prayer meetings were led by Brother Jacob Yates of Birchover. The work under the ministry of the Word of God grew, and they eventually moved to the village wash-house, known then as ‘The Long Room’.

During this time in the Long Room God distinctly blessed the work. It is reported that a revival took place during which God’s people were blessed, and many from the surrounding district were truly saved. One such was John Stevenson of Bee Hill, aged 66. He was a cripple through having rheumatism, and walked with the aid of two sticks. So great however was his new-found joy in the Lord that he forgot his lameness and returned home without his sticks! His first desire was to have a House of God in which to worship, so the owner of the village land was approached in order to acquire a site for the chapel. The site selected and given was the present one. In due course the building was complete and the small chapel was opened in 1863. Sermons were preached by J. W. Toft of Alport. On Monday about 140 people sat down to tea (presumably outside). The meeting was addressed by four preachers who in turn brought the Word of the Lord to the people. In 1875 there was a revival under the preaching of a Mr. John Brewell of Wirksworth, and again people were converted to Jesus Christ.

Rebuilt in 1898.

In 1897 the members felt the need for a larger chapel and again the squire of the village, Mr. Samuel Holmes (then of Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester), gave enough land for the new building. Not only was the land given, but also the stone by a local quarry owner. Answered prayer! In the early part of 1898 the members of the church began to cut and dress the stone at the quarry in their own time without payment. At the end of March a hay loft at the farm was fitted out with a pulpit, seats and oil lamps were provided, and it was here that the services were held while the old chapel was being pulled down.

Before the foundations of the new building could be laid, excavations had to be made into the hillside and over three hundred carthorse loads of earth were carried away and put at the bottom of the croft opposite the farmhouse. Approximately fourteen Christian men, all belonging to the chapel, were responsible for this arduous task. The foundation stone-laying ceremony was on Saturday, June 18th, and was a day long to be remembered in the history of the chapel. One of the four preachers at the ceremony referred to the time when … “The services were held in a cottage which he could see, but through the instrumentality of a good man who became connected with the cause of God at an advanced stage of life, a little chapel was built which had been a blessing to them, but the chapel becoming too small the present scheme was undertaken…”A public tea was provided at the farm, when about 200 people sat down. After tea, good and stirring speeches were made. The collection amounted to £26.6s.2½d!

The total cost of the new building was approximately £250, i.e. builders £18.15s.0d, joiners £118.8s.6d, plumbing £6.10s.0d, painting £12.10s.0d, heating apparatus £25.0s.0d. The opening ceremony took place at 10.30am on Sunday, October 23rd 1898 “TO GOD BE THE GLORY”. Water was led to the premises in 1908 when the Duke of Rutland sold the spring water on the moor to the South Darley Water Board. Electric light was first switched on in August 1932.

Became Independent in 1971.

A faithful witness was maintained for many years, but gradually there was a decline in the denomination and Stanton Lees Chapel. After much prayer the church seceded from the denomination in January 1971. Since that time God has been pleased to favour us with undeserved blessing.

“In the great decisive day

When God the nations shall survey

May it to all the world appear

That crowds were born for glory here!”


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