Union Chapel was established in 1799 and since that date has been amassing books and papers. There are now around 1000 books in the Library and an array of Church records, minute books and posters memorabilia associated with gigs in the archive – all of which is under the care of Friends of Union Chapel.
This fascinating collection has been rather neglected over the years so there is a lot of cataloguing and shelving to be done!
We hold regular Thursday evening archive evenings that all are welcome to join
View the calendar for upcoming Archive Evening
This wealth of material is housed in The Sunday School Hall – the site of the library since it was built in 1877. Conditions are far from ideal and we are looking into options for finding a more sustainable future for the important re-source.
What’s in the Library & Archive
Union Chapel has had a library for much of history – in 1837 it was recorded that “A Reading Society is kept up among the members of the congregation and supplied with the most interesting and profitable publications of the day: a Circulating Library is also provided in the vestry for the use of the poor”.
In 1875 when the Chapel was being rebuilt it was decided to give this library a permennt home in the gallery of the Sunday School Hall, where it remains to this day. Many books survive from the 1870s and over the years Ministers and Church members have left their books to the collection.
One of the most precious volumes is Union Chapel, the Story of a Hundred Years, a history published in 1899 to mark the centenary of the congregation’s foundation.
We also have a volume of the sermons preached at the dedication of the present building in December 1877.
Union Chapel’s archives are rich and varied. There are all sorts of treasures.
The records relating to the congregation include minute books dating back to 1835 and baptismal records going back even further to 1805. These are an invaluable resource for people researching their family tree and also the history of non-conformist Churches.
We also have detailed records to do with the building of the present Chapel in the 1870s. This includes the minutes of the building works sub-committee, copies of letters to the architect and contractors, bills of quantities and press cuttings.
Much of the material gives an insight into Victorian life at Union Chapel. Programmes for Evenings for the People dating to 1895 show that the Chapel has long been a place of entertainment they detail evenings of songs, humorous sketches and parlour games.
This archive is ever growing. Gig posters and memorabilia are now adding to the collection which reflects the day to day workings of Union Chapel and will provide a window on our work for future generations.
Download a list of the material in the library & archive