Telephone: 01422 349422
Contact: David McQuillan
Email: [email protected]
In 1988 six local art lovers bought a run down Square Chapel for just £25. Their vision was to turn it into a vibrant Centre for the Arts for professional artists and the community.
Built in 1772, Square Chapel is a beautiful red brick Georgian Chapel and one of only a handful of square churches ever built.
Years of neglect had taken its toll on the Grade II* listed building, which had fell into a state of dangerous disrepair and remained seriously threatened with demolition until it was bought by the Square Chapel Trust. It was structurally unsound with no windows, half a roof and a wall on the verge of collapse.
As the building work got underway and eventually the structure was deemed safe, there was no reason why concerts could not begin straight away. Staff had to work with what they had as funds were still being raised, so the earliest concerts took place in the dark, undecorated auditorium. The audience and performers wore hard hats because of potential plaster falling from above and they were given blankets to stop them getting cold as the building had no glass windows or heating.
[concert_hardhats__200x200] Three years later, windows and doors were finally installed as well as fully functioning toilets. Then in 1993 an office area and a dressing room was added but the Centre also needed a bar. Struggling with money, the Trust did not have any spare funds to build one so they enlisted the help of volunteers who used donated materials. Old bricks from the building were used and the bar itself was made out of old kitchen units. The ceiling was covered with material to hide the exposed lighting and roof, a simple trick that is still in use today.
Fast forward to the present day and Square Chapel attracts almost 40,000 people per year to events and activities and has gone from being run by volunteers back in 1995 to employing 20 full and part time staff.
Square Chapel has presented shows such as Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers; comedians Phil Jupitus, Rhod Gilbert and Jerry Sadowitz; folk musicians Ralph McTell, Maddy Prior and Waterson:Carthy; supports rising stars, new theatre companies and young talented musicians; provides the community with workshops, lectures and a versatile space, and is home to the Orchestra of Square Chapel.
Thousands of pounds have been raised and countless hours of time and energy have been freely given to ensure Square Chapel survives. It is an amazing story of hard work and determination, which still continues. There have been many achievements, lots of happy memories, and much laughter. It is a great triumph to reach this point, and as Square Chapel continues to grow, the future looks brighter and bigger than ever!