New Lendal Congregational Church York

Pritchett's designs for the chapel must have been a direct influence of his religion and reflected his own position as the superintendent of the Congregationalist denomination in York. Lendal Chapel was completed in 1816 but it was not until 1826 when an extension was added to the rear elevation, incorporating an apse extending from the basement level all the way to the second floor*.

*Dr Duncan Marks, York (2015)

 

 

The following was written by Dr Philippa Hoskin, 2000

In 1816, the Independent congregation which had met at Jubbergate, York, moved to a new chapel, designed for them by James Pritchett, on Lendal, built at a cost of over £3000. The chapel was founded with high hopes: the new members declared their intention to 'join ourselves together as a Christian Church of the Independent Calvinistic denomination, for the purpose of enjoyning the ordinances of the Gospel .. promising to each other mutual assistance in the way to heaven,' but the congregation, formed as 'Independent Calvinists' (a title they were still using in 1835) during the evangelical movement of the eighteenth-century, had fallen on hard times: they had been forced to sell their Jubbergate building and from 1814 to 1822, without a minister, sought financial help from the West Riding Itinerant Society.

In 1822 their fortunes were to change with the arrival of James Parsons as their pastor. Parsons was a young man, aged twenty-three, and had only recently left college. He was, however, a gifted and charismatic speaker who quickly attracted new members to the chapel. During 1821 he had been a frequent visitor to the chapel and in November of that year 384 members of the church and others who attended the chapel signed a letter calling him to York. The vote for him was not unanimous, one member refused to vote, but the confidence of the majority was fully justified.

By 1838 the chapel was packed to bursting with over eleven hundred people attending in the evening alone, a Sunday School of more than 400 and a membership of 447. The need to create more room was clear, and in 1839 Parsons and the majority of the members - 368 of them - left Lendal to form a new congregation at St Saviourgate, in the newly built Salem Chapel. The remaining 79 members of Salem were left without a minister, although with the leadership of the indefatigable Pritchett, one of the two deacons who remained at Lendal.

From this point Lendal's history was one of a struggle to survive. A number of ministers came and went, worn out by 'ill-health' or more probably by constant quarrelling with the deacons, particularly with Pritchett. By 1852 membership had only risen to 89 and by 1869 it had dropped to 71. As the number of members, and therefore the church's income, dropped, money became a particular problem. Small stipends did little to attract ministers and repairs to the chapel were necessary: renovations were completed in 1879, and in 1891 fund-raising for building work began again. This work came to an end in 1902, but not before the deacons had quarrelled bitterly once more with the Pritchett family.

In 1929, financial problems led to the sale of the Lendal Chapel and the purchase of cheap land to build a new, smaller chapel. Whilst this was built the Lendal members, those who did not apply to become members of Salem, shared Salem Chapel as a separate congregation. Attempts were made to form a united church, both at the time of Lendal's sale and after the opening of the new church, but these failed.

In 1934 the New Lendal Congregational Church, on Burton Stone Lane, opened. The congregation demonstrated its belief in the importance of fellowship and of evangelism in practical ways: through its Youth Work, in Sunday Schools and other Christian Youth organisations, and through its missions and its involvement with the London Mission Society, raising money for and awareness of mission work in the United Kingdom, and up to the early 1960s through the Community House, at first intended for the use of Church members but soon playing a role within the wider community.

In October 1972 New Lendal joined other Congregational and Presbyterian churches in becoming part of the United Reform Church.

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