of Ease is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust and
looked after by the
Friends of Guyhirn Chapel of Ease
as Guyhirn Old Church or Guyhirn Puritan Chapel, the Chapel of
Ease is a plain, finely proportioned, small rectangular building constructed
partly of brick (the North and West walls) and partly of Barnack stone
(South and East walls).
It has five
windows of clear leaded glass set in stone mullions. Both it's exterior
appearance and the austerity of it's internal arrangements, with
the original narrow wooden pews to prevent kneeling still in place,
proclaim the building's Puritan origin. It was in fact, designed at
the end of the Cromwellian Commonwealth, when the Puritan mode of worship
was the accepted one, but by the time construction was completed in
1660, the Restoration had come and Anglicanism had resumed it's place
as the official (and only legal) form of English religious observance.
Because of the circumstances of the time the Chapel was probably never
Restoration, the Chapel was adopted by the Church of England as a Chapel
of Ease in the charge of the Vicar of Wisbech St. Peter until 1854,
when Wisbech St. Mary was created a separate parish. The area around
the Chapel was consecrated as a burial ground by the Bishop of Ely in
1840. The Chapel moved into it's third parish in 1871 when the the parish
of Guyhirn with Rings End was created. It continued to be used for services
until the new church of St. Mary Magdelene was built in the village
in 1878. From that time the Chapel was rarely used and became in effect,
a mortuary chapel.
By 1960 the building had become derelict and unsafe. The last service
was held there on the 5th November 1960.
The rebirth of the Chapel began in 1971 due mainly to the initiative
of the Reverend Donald Dickinson, then Vicar of Guyhirn. The Redundant
Churches Fund was approached and on the 26th October 1973, the Chapel
was formally declared redundant as a place of worship. It's restoration
was then undertaken by the Fund, as a building "of such historic
and architectural interest it ought to be preserved in the interest
of the nation and the Church of England". Since no previous
efforts at restoration or "modernisation" had been made, it
was possible to restore the building to it's original form, both internally
and externally. At a Thanksgiving service in July 1975 the Bishop of
Ely, Dr. E K Roberts, re-dedicated the Chapel.
In 1973 the Friends of the Guyhirn Chapel of ease was formed under the
presidency of Sir John Betjeman, the Poet Laureate, who on his death
was succeeded by the well known author Edward Storey. Since it's formation
the Friends have regularly held two services each year in the Chapel;
the first near Epiphany, and the second in July. The village schoolchildren
hold some of their assemblies in the Chapel during the Summer Term.
The Friends responsibilities include the day-to-day care of the building
and providing information about the Chapel to an increasing number of
Persons wishing to be members of the Friends are
invited to contact the:
The Chapel is now in the care of the Churches Conservation
Trust who welcome visitors to this fascinating building.