brook street chapel
Welcome to Knutsford Unitarians
Knutsford Unitarians and our chapel are a cultural centre. We have hosted musical concerts as well as literary events and this is an important part of the chapel’s outreach. Furthermore, It is hoped to develop this aspect much further in future years.
Brook Street Chapel may also be described as a meeting place, where people of many different backgrounds, religions and nationalities may find a warm welcome. In particular, this is evident in rites of passage: Our minister conducts quite a number of such services, especially marriages where the couple come from different faiths.
Social events also play a large part in the life of Knutsford Unitarians, both for members and also for the wider community. This aspect of chapel life is particularly important for us. The chapel is a place that seeks to be a centre for justice and social equity, while being mindful of our heritage in that respect and looking to a larger future. Finally, we aim to help in our own particular sphere towards making a better world for everyone.
We proudly provide same-sex marriages!
We proudly provide same-sex marriages at Brook Street Chapel! Get in touch with us today for more information.
Rev Alex Bradley MA
Minister Jean formally retired at the end of March—although she is continuing to conduct services until September to keep the chair warm for our new minister—Alex Bradley. Some of you may remember Alex when he was the minister at our Chapel before Minister Jean was appointed. We look forward to welcoming him back and to the start of a new phase with the Knutsford Unitarians.
Unlike most other religious groups, our congregation is run by our members. As such, the thoughts and views of every person attending our services can influence the nature of our services and meetings. As a committee we are always looking for suggestions for the format and type of worship services as well as charitable activities. We are also open to suggestions on how to grow our membership, social events and additionally, fund raising events. Please do not hesitate to bring forward any ideas and suggestions to the committee before or after Alex returning to us in September.
Knutsford Unitarians services of worship can be seen as a celebration of our deepest values. For example, we see our beliefs as relevant to all aspects of life; this also includes the wider community. Of course, feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions.
January / February Newsletter
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Rev Alex Bradley MA
Rev Jean Bradley
Knutsford Unitarians History
During the Commonwealth, Cheshire was almost completely a Presbyterian and Parliamentary County.
In 1672 the first Toleration Act officially allowed private houses to be licensed and used for worship. Hugh Henshaw (ejected from Chelford) and Peter Leigh (ejected from Chester) hence came to Knutsford, had their homes licensed and became the first non-conformist ministers in the area.
Political events were unstable and the licences were withdrawn driving meetings once more underground and hence, more prosecutions followed.
William & Isaac
In 1687 James 11 passed The Declaration of Indulgence, thus making it legal for dissenters to appoint their own preachers. A young William Tong was hence appointed and several homes licensed as places to meet. Meanwhile, the numbers of dissenters grew and grew. With the protestant William and Mary on the throne came the 1689 Act of Toleration. Dissenters could now leave the Church of England (up until then people were made to attend services or risk prosecution) and lawfully hold their own services BUT they needed a building in which to worship.
A very generous gift of land was given by Isaac Antrobus ( a Knutsford tanner and life long dissenter )to build a chapel and a small burial ground while other members gave money for the building and fitments. William Tong helped Isaac Antrobus organise the building of the New Chapel which was built so that it was inconspicuous and resembled a private house or farm buildingbecause the dissenters had a very real fear that the right to public worship and freedom from prosecution could be withdrawn. (A clause was included in the settlement to cover this event). It is said that lookouts were posted by the outside steps to the galleries in case of attack.
William and Isaac will always be remembered with gratitude by members of this congregation for founding a Chapel in which members are free to worship God according to the dictates of conscience.