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The Friends of Rotherham Chapel on the Bridge was formed in October 2014 with the aim of promoting the chapel by sharing its history with visitors, making it more accessible to the wider public and fundraising to preserve the building.
We open monthly from 10.30am – 2pm and details can also be found on our Facebook page.
We love to share the history of the chapel and explain the historical stained- glass window. Visitors who are able can access the undercroft and see the original cell doors. Refreshments are also available.
Each year we organise a special event, so watch this space and facebook for details.
The Chapel on the Bridge team also give talks about the chapel for interested groups either on site or at your own venue. This provides much needed revenue for our fundraising. We have produced a book about the history of the Chapel and this is on sale at our open days as well as gift items.
We look forward to seeing you!
To date we have welcomed approximately 5,000 visitors.
The Chapel on the Bridge has been called ‘a gem in the midst of Rotherham’. Dating back to 1483 it is thought that Thomas Rotherham gave most of the money towards building the chapel.
The chapel survived for 64 years until The Act of Dissolution in 1547 came into being and closed it down. The Feoffees of the Common Lands of Rotherham took over care of the building and converted it into an Almshouse around 1569.
In 1779 the Almshouse was converted into a dwelling for the Deputy Constable and a jail.
The next chapter in its life was that of a tobacconist shop which lasted until 1913.
The building was returned to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England in 1916 and the chapel was re-consecrated in 1924.
More restoration followed in the 1970’s and 1980’s including the addition of a stained- glass window.
The chapel is open weekly on a Tuesday morning at 11am for Holy Communion.
“What a procession Time had led across that Bridge! Flash of purple and gold as Thomas Rotherham rides by on his richly caparisoned mule: more sombre hues as another Archbishop of York, Cardinal Wolsey, rides sadly by, a fallen and broken man in 1529; the jingle of arms as the escort surrounding Mary Queen of Scots passes by; and the stern tramp of Ironsides, as Cromwell’s men conduct her grandson, King Charles, to Rotherham on his journey to Whitehall and death.”
“Later softer things claim our attention, and a poetic figure leans upon the parapet as Ebenezer Elliott, The Corn Law Rhymer, watches the dappled trout and flash of birds in flight, and his contemporary Ebenezer Rhodes, pauses on the bridge to watch the rays of the setting sun gild the great church, rising above the huddled roofs of houses and the stately elms which stand on the river’s trembling edge.”
From “Rotherham” by Freda Crowder & Dorothy Green.
Volunteers at the Chapel on the Bridge open day were delighted when a visitor, Joyce Jackson, explained that her Great-Grandfather, George Thorpe who was a tobacconist lived there in the chapel with his wife Jane Thorpe (nee Newell). Also living there at the time were his son Thomas and wife Polly (nee Greaves) Their 1st three children were born there, William 1876, Alfred 1878, and Thomas 1880. (uncles)
In due course she let the Friends group have photos and copies of the children’s birth certificates. This formed a welcome addition to the contemporary history of the chapel as their stay was in between census records 1871 -1881 and could not have been picked up that way.
However, the story does not end there, having checked out the maternal side of the family they then decided to follow up the paternal side and an interesting and poignant story it is.