We visited the Baptist Chapel in Grittleton in September 2016 when we noticed it was opening for the Heritage Weekend event. It is always difficult to choose where to visit during this weekend because so many places are open which are normally kept locked and we want to visit them all! This particular year we chose Grittleton. We were not disappointed.
The building is now the responsibility of the Historic Chapels Trust, details can be seen at their website: Historic England. There are a few links to particular subjects of the Chapel and some downloadable documents including the very interesting Conversation Statement.
Probably the thing that we remember most about visiting this Chapel is the person responsible for opening it up that weekend - Sue. We're sure she would be thoroughly embarrassed by what we have to say about her, but it would be hard to exagerate what good she has done for this building. She visited it when she learned some of her relatives were buried in the graveyard adjoining it. What she found was the path from the road to the church was completely overgrown with brambles and weeds and so was the graveyard, and the building was in a sorry state or repair. She fought her way in and since then her life has been taken over by this Chapel. Not only did she clear the path and graveyard but she set about bringing the building back to life with a full maintenance and decoration programme, fundraising, open days, collecting history about the Chapel, and now there are numerous occasions when the Chapel is open. Her enthusiasm for this building is infectious - as proven by the number of volunteers she has found to help. She has learnt DIY skills as she battles damp and leaks, and has become good at finding 'donations', including an organ, which she was playing to welcome all when we arrived. Many events are 'dress as Victorians' - including good old fashioned harvest festival and Christmas services, when volunteers dress the Chapel in traditional Victorian decoration as well as themselves. The Chapel now has a Facebook page and speakers often have their events streamed to the public. Should you want to hire it to put on an event - the accoustics will enhance any musical performance - Sue is happy to prepare it and open it up for the event - anything to help the cause of this building. It is hard to image the time and effort this woman has given to this building, but bringing it back to life is what she has achieved. If you are able to help - either with your skills, time or even money - she will be able to put that help to good use because there is still plenty to do.
The building has responded well to all this attention. It is an honest, simple building - what you see is what you get: a place for people to worship God with no distractions. You can feel the history when you walk in and it is very comfortable to be in.
The graveyard to the north side of the Chapel and is now cleared of the brambles and weeds so is accessible to visitors; much of it is in the shadow of a canopy of trees from the adjoining estate . Unfortunately many of the inscriptions are not readable as they have eroded in our harsh British winters. Although we photographed them all, many of our photos were not usable due to the sun shining into the camera and causing flares.
The Chapel is a Grade II* listed building - more information about the listing can be found at the Historic England website.