Stainton Institute

The History of Stainton Institute

A Grade II Listed Former Chapel

Early History of Stainton Chapel: From 1697 to Present

Two licences were issued in 1672 for Presbyterian meetings in the Parish of Heversham, one from John Hindes’ house, likely the same John Hinde of Stainton whose house was registered on 13th January 1698/99 under the Tolerance Act. An earlier certificate dated 8th October 1596 was granted for a house built by Miles Addyson. Although possibly of Presbyterian origin, the church (now URC) had an independent minister by the early 18th century.

The chapel was built circa 1697/8. It features rendered rubble walls, a slated roof, four regularly spaced windows in the east wall, and two original windows flanking the pulpit at the north end. Three larger windows are located on the west side. At the south end is a two-storey addition with a stable below and a vestry or schoolroom above. The interior, measuring 18.5 feet by 37.75 feet, was refitted around 1870. Nightingale notes, “the earthen floor was replaced by a boarded one, and the pulpit moved from the east side facing the road to its present position.” The roof is supported by three roughly shaped oak trusses of late 17th-century character.

Inside the chapel is a Communion table with turned legs and guilloche carved ornament around the upper rail and a later renewed oak top, otherwise dated c.1698. The door to the undercroft/stable has wrought iron hinges from the early 18th century. Internally, on the west wall, there is a marble tableau relating to Thomas Greenhow of High House Stainton, dated 1838. There is also a portion of a pew door fixed to the front of the pulpit with a carved rail and date, “IDED 1698”.

Information taken from Non-Conformist Chapels and Meeting Houses in the North of England; Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (1994).

The Five-Mile Chapel

According to records from Sizergh dated 9th October 1697, a request by Myles Addison of Stainton to set aside his house for religious worship for Protestants ‘defecting from the Church of England’ was granted, provided it was used according to the law. Ministers ejected from their churches for refusing to conform to the Book of Common Prayer in the 1660s were not allowed to preach within 5 miles of their former churches. This chapel is roughly 5 miles from Kendal.

Mormon Church Connection

John Taylor, a resident of Stainton during the early 19th century, emigrated to the United States and later became the third World President of the Mormon Church in 1880, the only English person to hold this position. He lived in the Parish of Stainton in his youth and is believed to have been baptised and worshipped in the chapel before emigrating to America.

Later History (19th Century)

Stainton Institute in Stainton, Kendal, is a former church chapel converted for use as a community building between 2013 and 2021. It was built in 1697 as a Presbyterian church chapel. The chapel was first used following the Tolerance Act and by ministers ejected from their churches for refusing to conform to the Book of Common Prayer. As a result, they were not allowed to preach or worship within 5 miles of their main church.

The chapel was refurbished and extended in the 19th century and later became a United Reformed Church chapel. The URC was formed in 1972 by a union of the Presbyterian Church of England and the majority of churches in the Congregational Church of England and Wales. However, early in the 21st century, congregations declined significantly, leading to Stainton Chapel and many similar chapels closing their doors for worship, becoming redundant, and being sold for other uses.

Recent History

The need for a community building was identified by residents of the Parish of Stainton in the formation of the Parish Plan in 2003. A further survey in 2005 reaffirmed the potential for renovating the former chapel as a community meeting place. Public consultations demonstrated local needs and support for converting the former chapel into a village hall. The formation of Friends of Stainton Village Hall comprised local residents determined to deliver this much-needed facility.

In 2004/5, a committee of local volunteers was formed with the intention of converting and restoring the damp and dilapidated former chapel building for use as a community village hall for Stainton Parish residents. The committee obtained charity status in August 2008. Legal ownership of the former church chapel building was obtained from the URC in late 2012, allowing the first stage of the renovation project to commence. Building renovation began after obtaining listed building consent and planning permission from SLDC. Successful grant funding applications and local fundraising events secured ongoing renovation progress, culminating in project completion in 2021.

About Us

Stainton Institute Village Hall is a registered charity (No. 1125601). It is managed on a day-to-day basis by a committee of dedicated unpaid local volunteers appointed annually in accordance with the Stainton Institute’s Constitution and the Charity Commission’s legal requirements.