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Guyhirn Chapel of Ease
A Puritan Presence in the Fens for over 300 years

Guyhirn Chapel of Ease

Guyhirn  Chapel of Ease is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust and looked after by the 
Friends of Guyhirn Chapel of Ease

Also known 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 consecrated.

Following the 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 visitors.

Persons wishing to be members of the Friends are invited to contact the:

Treasurer
Edward Otter
e.otter@talktalk.net

The Chapel is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust who welcome visitors to this fascinating building.