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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Warwickshire

by Peter Kessler, 28 February 2010

 

 

West Warwickshire Part 6: Churches of Royal Leamington Spa & Whitnash

Tower Street Chapel

Tower Street Chapel used to stand on the street of that name, at the back of Clemens Street. Initially it appears to have been have been a 'proprietary' chapel, owned by an individual to offer worship in a newly urbanised area. Weslyans and Catholics used it at a time which suggests it was build about 1820. Both of these established their own chapels, and Tower Street was eventually turned into four cottages, and more recently demolished for new housing.

Church of St Margaret

The Church of St Margaret is in Whitnash, now a southern suburb of Leamington Spa, but originally a small village which was centred around its parish church. The church lies between Church Lane and Church Close, not far from the Warwick & Napton canal. It was first given, between 1121 and 1129, by Lesceline widow of Humfrey the Domesday tenant of Whitnash, to Nostell Priory in Yorkshire. The original church possessed an aisleless nave and chancel.

Church of St Margaret

The church's two-stage tower with embattled parapet was added in the latter part of the fifteenth century, although it is unclear if this replaced an earlier tower. Two bells by Mathew Bagley were installed in 1680 and a south porch was added in the eighteenth century. Much of the church was rebuilt at various times, the chancel in 1855, the aisle in 1867, and the nave in 1880. Four more bells were added to the tower by J Taylor, three in 1892 and one in 1896.

Union Chapel

Union Chapel was midway down the western side of Clemens Street, back in the lower centre of Leamington Spa and close to Tower Chapel. It opened in 1816, the first of the many Dissenting chapels in town. Also known as Congregational Chapel, it was the first home to several new groups that eventually set up their own chapels. The first to leave went to Mill Street Chapel, and the Baptists left for their own chapel. The Congregationalists alone remained on Clemens Street.

Union Chapel

In 1836 the Congregationalists also moved, to a new bigger chapel in Spencer Street. The old chapel was sold in 1844 and became a short-lived theatre in 1848. In 1866 the building was re-opened as the Congregational Free Chapel, under the care of Reverend Sibree. This lasted until 1902 when the chapel again closed, to re-open as a corn store, and later part of the Lockheed Company until 1973. It was then divided in two and this is how it survives to this day.

Two photos on this page contributed by Aidan McRae Thomson, three kindly released for republication by Bath Place.

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