The Chapel of Our Lady on the Bridge

Historic Site/Structure

Description

The chapel was built in 1483, part of a new bridge across the River Don. We can date it from the will of a local teacher called John Bokying. In 1483 he left "3s.4d. to the fabric of the chapel to be built on Rotherham Bridge." It is possible that Thomas Rotherham, Archbishop of York, donated most of the money needed for building. The chapel was richly decorated and contained a statue of the Virgin and Child "of gold, welwrought". In November 1485 Arnold Reresby of Thrybergh left "6s.8d. to the glassing of a window".

The chapel was used by travellers, who used it to pray for a safe journey, or to give thanks for a safe arrival in Rotherham. The Act for the Dissolution of Colleges and Chantries in 1547 closed the Chapel. It was given to the Feoffees of the Common Lands of Rotherham, Rotherham's first town council. By 1595 the Chapel had been converted into an almshouse, and as such was a constant charge on the Feoffees. It only survived because it was an integral part of the bridge - without the chapel, the bridge would fall down!

By the 1680's the Chapel was almost a ruin. Some repairs in 1681 were made but very little more is known about the chapel or bridge until the bridge was enlarged in 1768 when the river channel was widened. In 1778 work began on converting the almshouse to a prison. The work cost £136, and was completed by 1779. Deputy Constable John Watson lived upstairs, whilst the crypt became the jail. When a new courthouse and jail opened in 1826 the chapel was rented as dwelling house.

In 1888 the Chapel opened as a tobacconist and newsagents. The business continued undisturbed until 1901, when a petition signed by almost 1000 Rotherham residents was presented to the Feoffees, urging them to restore the Chapel. The tobacconist's was bought in 1913 by Sir Charles Stoddart, and closed down. He died before the restoration could be completed. The vicar and churchwardens of All Saints undertook to finish the repairs and restoration. The chapel was finally completed in 1924. Further work was carried out in 1975, when the fine new east window was added.

The Chapel is used for worship every Tuesday morning at 11.00 am when a service of Holy Communion is held.


Opening Hours

Sun CLOSED
Mon CLOSED
Tue 10:45 11:45
Wed CLOSED
Thu CLOSED
Fri CLOSED
Sat CLOSED

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