Unity Church Crookesmoor Sheffield

The nearest church to my current house is the Unity Church, Crookesmoor, Sheffield.   

Unity Church Crookesmoor Sheffield - Photo taken November 2006

In October 2009 I came across a marvelous article in The Sheffield Daily Telegraph from the summer of 1915 which gave full details of the church and the opening proceedings. Under the title

CROOKES NEW CHURCH

UPPERTHORPE UNITARIANS' NEW HOME.

The congregation of the Unitarian Chapel Upperthorpe which has migrated from that district to Unity Church Crookesmoor Sheffield entered into possession of its new home yesterday.

A church in which both harmony of design and utility are represented has been provided at a cost, together with the land amounting to 8,150, towards which 6,200 has been raised. The church in style is an adaptation of late Gothic carried out in brick and stone and presents an imposing appearance.

The peculiarities of the site led to height being the main consideration in order to raise the chapel by the Crookesmoor Road front, and the hall and the class room have been placed underneath, The building is approached by a bridge and a flight of steps, while access to the Sunday School is given at the back on Harcourt Road. Here there is a fine balcony leading from the ladies parlour and commanding a picturesque view of Sheffield. The interior of the church is spacious, and the light and artistic effect of the green walls and oak panelling is enhanced by a series of elegant windows. Particularly handsome is the chancel window in which three figures symbolising justice, mercy and truth are embodied in richly tinted stained glass. The artist Mr. A. L. Ward of 117 Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, London has handled his theme most successfully. The feature is happy treatment of the blues. The pictorial window subjects from Upperthorpe Church have been introduced in the west and transept windows.

The opening proceedings began with the unveiling by Mr W. Guest (chairman of the trustees) of a bronze tablet at the entrance to the church setting forth the origin of the congregation. The event brought together a large and representative gathering of Unitarians.

Mr Guest performing the unveiling ceremony mentioned that the congregation started worshipping 60 years ago in Penistone Road, and later went to the Upperthorpe Chapel. He hoped that under better conditions and better equipment they would be able to prosecute their work there with an even greater measure of success.

Mr. Charles Hawkesley (Ex-President of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association) then opened the church doors witha gold key presented by the congregation and the assembly followed him and the church minister and the officials into the chapel, where the dedicatory service was held

Mrs. Kirke sister of the late Mr. J. B. Wostinholm in unveiling the chancel window said that she had the pleasure in presenting it on behalf of herself and Mr Wostinholm nieces, to the church and congregation. Her brother was one of the founders of the church, and took the greatest interest in it, and she was sure he would deire to wish them all prosperity

CHURCH WITH A HISTORY 

Mr H R Bramley in the absence of Mr E. Bramley made a statement concerning the window. He said that Mr Wostinholm was one of the earliest workers in connection with the founding of the Upperthorpe Chapel, and was a good friend to it throughout his life. In the name of the minister, the trustees and the congregation he wished to thank Mrs Kirke and Mr Wostinholm's nieces for their gift, which would be treasured as much as the memory of the man of whose life it is a reminder.

The dedicatory service was conducted by the Revs, A H Dolphin and Dr. Chas Hargrove. The hymns included "O' Lord of earth and heaven above" written by the late Mr Edward Bramley and sung at the opening of the Upperthorpe Chapel in 1861. Mr Andrew King sang with clearness and purity of tone the solo " I will sing of Thy great mercies"

Alderman A J Hobson presided over the public meeting in the Unity Hall in the evening and congratulated the congregation on possessing a building whose simplicity, stateliness, and ripeness of design would grow on them as they came into closer association with it. He wished their work their every success (Applause)

The Rev A H Dolphin in tracing the history of the congregation said its foundation in 1859 was due to the Upper Chapel and its then minister the Rev Brooke Hereford. That pastor and Mr Wollen whose work is commemorated by a window in the church at first chose a disused joiners shop in Penistone Road. Two years later they built the Upperthorpe Chapel. The congregation succeeded fairly well for some years but gradually the families supporting it moved away from the neighbourhood and eventually it was felt that the work could be better done, and with more hopeful prospects in another district. The present site recommended by the late Councillor Fox was bought 10 years ago. Several persons who were present at the opening of the Upperthorpe Chapel were still with them - Mrs Kirke, Mr and Mrs Alfred Beckett were among these, and others there who had not sent in their names. He wished to thank all who had taken part in bringing to an end the building of a house worthy of their cause.

Complimentary speeches were delivered by the Rev Dr Clemens, J F Mathews, Messrs. T Beaumont, J R Wigfull, C Hawksley, A F Smith and others. The officials present were Mr W R Stevenson, (treasurer) Mr Andrew King (secretary) and Mr W Guest (chairman of trustees)

A service followed in which the Revs A H Dolphin, C Peach, J Ellis, and C J Street took part. The rev. Dr Hargrove preached the sermon. The choir rendered the anthem " I have built thee a house"  

From the Telegraph and Independent dated 23rd October 1941

The church lasted to the late 1980's when it was no longer used and became redundant. The University of Sheffield bought the building and grounds at auction and converted the whole church into student flats. Since then, the University have either sold or have come to some arrangement with local property speculators that have resulted in some rather pedestrian flats and apartments being built in the grounds, and the church once again subject to the deprivations of the local planners and developers. It is a shame that a building which is quite unusual for Sheffield has been subject  to such a lack of thought and inspiration.

The following photos were taken in December 2009 - a marvelous building and grounds that have to my mind been ruined by a total lack of vision.

Sources

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph

Telegraph and Independent dated 23rd October 1941

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This page was last updated on 23/09/15 15:22