Plans drawn up to save Whitby's hidden chapel


The Friends of Flowergate Unitarian Chapel in Whitby are launching a mammoth fundraising campaign to restore the building and open it up to the community.   The chapel, which few residents have ever  seen, let alone visitors, is now in need of restoration throughout to preserve it for future generations.

Tucked away in the alley between the Sutcliffe Gallery and the Java Cafe, the Grade II listed building was built in 1812 on the site of a much earlier chapel completed in 1715.

The initial campaign, set up by former minister, the Reverend Margaret Kirk to raise £3,000 for urgent repairs has considerably exceeded its target, raising £3,815.

Rev. Kirk said: "We want to tell the story of the chapel's dissenting history - especially its most famous Minister, Francis Haydn Williams, who was a social justice activist in the town between 1888 - 1910.

"Haydn Williams went to prison on numerous occasions for upsetting the local gentry in order to reclaim common land and open footpaths. He was passionate in his defence of the rights of ordinary people.   We think his story needs to be better known and we want to set up a permanent exhibition to celebrate his activism. "

Whitby Civic Society is supporting the plans to preserve the Unitarian Chapel, chair Dr John Field said: "The Chapel is a distinctive part of our heritage, and the project will save a unique building for the future while marking the Unitarian contribution to Whitby's history.

"Francis Haydn Williams was a true hero to the townsfolk, and we are planning to recognise his role next year through a blue plaque on his former home."

(Courtesy: Scarborough News)