Village chapel to close after nearly two centuries

After serving the community for 189 years, the chapel in Upton Cheyney is to close its doors and a reunion and farewell event is being held.

With a declining congregation, Upton Cheyney United Reformed Church was scheduled for closure over a decade ago but was reprieved largely as a result of the efforts of elders Muriel Williams and Stuart Turner.

They both passed away last year and without more people willing to step forward as elders and maintain it, closure has become inevitable.

Next Tuesday (5th September) Bitton Parish History Group is hosting ‘A Night of Reflection and Celebration’ at the chapel ahead of the last service next weekend.

The event, to which everyone is welcome, will be a journey through the chapel’s rich history, its role in shaping the lives of local residents, and the numerous stories that have unfolded within its walls.

People will be encouraged to relate their memories and there will be a talk by local building historian Kay Ross. There will also be the historical account that was written up by Stuart Turner and Muriel Williams.

The chapel opened in 1834, having cost £360 to build. The group of trustees and funders included the Bristol tobacco importer Wills. A day school was added in 1849 which remained until a board school opened in the village in the 1890s.

Initially the building was known as the Independent Chapel before it joined the Congregational Church and then became the United Reformed Church.

Kay Ross said: “We invite all those who have been touched by the presence of the URC Chapel over the years to join us in this poignant reunion and farewell event. It’s a time to come together, share our stories, and honour the legacy of a place that has meant so much to us.”

Tuesday’s event is at 7pm for 7.30pm and will be secular. Refreshments will be available.

The final service on Sunday 10th September will be at 3pm.