Press Release - 4 November 2012 (at the time of the appointment of the Consultants)
After many years, there is a glimmer of hope for a Tameside Grade II* Listed Building, over 400 years old and in a dangerous condition. Dukinfield Old Hall Chapel, near Globe Square and the Peak Forest Canal, is a small Tudor chapel, now with only 3 walls and no roof. It is close to the site of Dukinfield Old Hall, the home of the Duckenfield family, Lords of the Manor. The Hall was demolished in 1950. Its place in history springs from the Civil War period of the 1640s and 1650s. Probably it was the first religious building to house a congregation of Independents, or ‘Congregationalists’ who rejected the authority of the Church of England. George Fox, who later founded the Quaker movement, spoke there, possibly for the first time. Then the congregation split over the question of the Trinity, leading to the first group of Unitarian worshippers outside London.‘ ‘It’s one of the 100 most important buildings in the history of Christianity in England’ is the bold claim of Roy Parkes of the Friends of Dukinfield Old Hall Chapel. ‘Unfortunately we don’t think it can ever be restored, it’s too far gone, but it could be stabilised to stop it deteriorating further and collapsing completely’.
Darren Ratcliffe RIBA (Historic Areas Adviser and Buildings Inspector at English Heritage) said ‘The building is at risk. English Heritage are working closely with Tameside Council, the Friends of Dukinfield Old Hall Chapel, Heritage Trust for the North West, the Greater Manchester Archaeology Advisory Service, and the current owners, to assess the Chapel’s present condition, the cost of stabilisation and options to enable the public to have limited access and to learn its history. If funds are secured for the repairs, the Greater Manchester Building Preservation Trust will take over care of the building from the present owners.’
Update 8th September 2013
At an Open Meeting held on 8 April 2013, the Consultants gave a presentation about their archaeological and architectural studies of the building, and the emergency stabilisation works already undertaken. Subsequently, a written report was received in DVD form, which is being studied in detail by English Heritage, who will be main funders of any further works. THE EXCITING NEWS IS THAT THE ARCHAEOLOGISTS FOUND SOME 'POST-HOLES' IN THE NAVE OF THE CHAPEL, WHICH COULD BE EVIDENCE OF AN EARLER BUILDING THAN THE TUDOR RUIN WE SEE TODAY. AND.....THE DISTURBED GROUND CREATED BY THE POST HOLES MAY CONTAIN CLUES AS TO EVEN EARLIER HUMAN ACTIVITY. Further archaeological work is needed but the Friends have an opportunity to tell you what we already know, or suspect, on site, at the annual Heritage Open Days event on Sunday 15 September 2013. Remember, the building is normally inaccessible to the public so this is one of the very few opportunities to see it close to. Because the building is now safer than it was last year we are hoping we will be able to enter it (the areas dug by the archaeologists have been back-filled).
The PLANNING PERMISSION was granted for 3 years and expired on 8 December 2011. Nothing was done in the interim to implement it, understandable in view of the economic and commercial circumstances facing the owners at the time. The owners' estimate of the costs (August 2011) was £150,000. At that time (December 2011) the Friends were of the opinion that there would be no great difficulty or expense involved in submitting a new planning application based on the information in the 2008 one. However, English Heritage and Tameside MBC decided that, because there was a possibility that further deterioration in the fabric had taken place, another study was needed.
Consultants were appointed and reported in April 2013 (see their report below). The Friends are of the opinion that, in the absence of any alternative proposals, preparing and submitting a new planning application is an essential next step. Essential but not sufficient: the key question is how to raise finance to implement any planning permission and the Friends see it as their role to bring together any parties who can assist. The main key partner identified so far is Heritage Trust for the North West who will purchase the present Chapel from the present owners and process the planning and grant applications.
UPDATE 23 JUNE 2016
UPDATE 10 JULY 2016
Meeting between Friends, Heritage Trust North West and Tameside Council. (link to follow)
E-mail sent to Tameside Council 10 July 2016 by the Friends setting out a LONG-TERM CRITICAL PATH and POSSIBLE SHORT-TERM INITIATIVES, to be activated once the Chapel has been bought by Heritage North West from its current owners, the Bardsley family.
The Friends have not received a reply to these proposals, despite three years of making enquiries and representations on many occasions and through many channels (comment added 20 June 2019).
(link to follow)