If you stand by the stocks on Rivington Village Green with your back to the road, you will see this view of the Unitarian Chapel. On its notice board is
the quotation 'Here let no man a stranger be'. This promises the welcome that the dedicated congregation offers to all who enter this ancient building
of simple beauty in order to worship in the spirit of freedom, reason and tolerance which characterises the Unitarian Tradition. We do not necessarily all have
the same beliefs; nor do we claim to have the monopoly of Divine Truth. We are here to answer the individual's spiritual needs, to make spiritual journeys
and to better enjoy life.
Though the historic congregation dates from its separation in 1667 from the Parish church, the chapel was built of local stone in 1703 and has a small bell-cote. Its historical importance is recognised by English Heritage who played an important part in 1990 in the restoration of its interior which contains the original box pews, oak beams and a stone memorial to Lord Willoughby one of its founders (who saw action in the Civil War). The descendants of George Brownlow, another founder, held a service in 17th century costume recently, The chapel hosts visits from historical societies as it has several local historians amongst its members. A plaque by the yew tree indicates a link with poet Walt Whitman.
Worship here has many traditional Christian aspects but also draws on material from a variety of world religions and literatures. The chapel's picturesque setting makes it an attractive place for Rites of Passage especially for weddings of which there have been over 100 in the last nine years sometimes involving different nationalities. Behind the chapel is its walled Garden of Rest with a special Physic Garden growing the kinds of medicinal herbs used in the 17th century. It is popular not only with photographers but also with walkers or cyclists who stay for a moment's meditation.
The Chapel has a special place in the wider movement for we host the Triennial Pilgrimage which attracts Unitarians country-wide to a lunch at Rivington Barn to celebrate 'Civil Liberty and Religious Freedom the World Over'. This is followed by a service in the Chapel with a distinguished preacher.
Despite its historical appeal, the chapel is very much part of the modern world. The congregation has a wide age-range and is active in support of local charities and of those promoted by the Manchester District Association of which it is a member. We have links with schools for assemblies and curricular studies and with musical groups. Amongst our social activities we have entertainments and walking parties to the Dales. Our school room is leased out to an independent caterer as tea-room.
Chairman: Vince McCully Tel: 01257 483733 e-mail: Vince McCully
Secretary and Contact Regarding Weddings, Baptisms and Funerals: Joan Thursby Tel: 01204 520264
Treasurer and Chapel Keeper: Frank Ascroft Tel: 01257 483635
Publicity Officer: Dennis Crompton Tel: 01204 841685 e-mail: Dennis Crompton