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Construction work reveals hidden 19th century Norwich chapel

PUBLISHED: 11:00 18 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:00 18 June 2020

The old chapel uncovered during construction work at St Peter's Methodist Church in Park Lane. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The old chapel uncovered during construction work at St Peter's Methodist Church in Park Lane. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

You could be forgiven for thinking it was an unassuming 1960s building, not worth a second glance.

St Peter's Methodist church, Park Lane, Norwich .
Photo: Simon Finlay
Copy: 2009
(01603) 772434St Peter's Methodist church, Park Lane, Norwich . Photo: Simon Finlay Copy: 2009 (01603) 772434

But now building work has chipped away at the brickwork shell and revealed a 19th century chapel hidden from view for more than 50 years.

The old-but-new sight on Park Lane in Norwich’s Golden Triangle is the latest twist in a recent tale of controversy around St Peter’s Methodist Church, which started when residents mounted a campaign to stop redevelopment of the site.

The battle between the community and developers rumbled on for more than three years until September 2019 when the council gave permission for St Peter’s to be converted into flats.

Work got under way on the site earlier this year and one of the first things builders have done is remove the yellow brick encasing the church hall, revealing the original Park Lane Wesleyan Methodist Church.

The old chapel uncovered during construction work at St Peter's Methodist Church in Park Lane. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe old chapel uncovered during construction work at St Peter's Methodist Church in Park Lane. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The chapel was built in 1894 and was designed by Norwich architect E Boardman and Sons.

Over the years it has been subjected to a number of renovations, which have removed its grand entrance and filled in its large window, with the most impactful of these coming in the 1960s when the whole building was covered in brick.

Now this has been removed, Boardman’s building, and traces of its former grandeur, can be seen once more, including an imposing window, which although now bricked in, once looked out over Park Lane.

The outline of the grand porch and turrets which welcomed worshippers can also be seen as faint shadows on the brickwork.

St Peter's Methodist church, Park Lane, Norwich. Copies of old staff photo.
Photo: Simon Finlay
Copy: 
For:EN News
EDP pics © 2009
(01603) 772434St Peter's Methodist church, Park Lane, Norwich. Copies of old staff photo. Photo: Simon Finlay Copy: For:EN News EDP pics © 2009 (01603) 772434

Constructed in the late 19th century, the chapel was an expansion of the Lady Lane Wesleyan chapel in St Peter Mancroft parish.

In its heyday the chapel, which became known as the Park Lane Church, had a seating capacity of 364, 100 of which were in the gallery. The building also included a school room, four vestries and a kitchen.

In the 1930s, the site was expanded and a new larger imposing building designed by the Norwich architect Cecil Yelf was built on land next to the original chapel, which became the new church hall.

The old chapel, right, uncovered during construction work, standing next to St Peter's Methodist Church in Park Lane. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe old chapel, right, uncovered during construction work, standing next to St Peter's Methodist Church in Park Lane. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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St Peter's methodist church and church halls on Park Lane in Norwich before construction work started on the site. Photo: Bill SmithSt Peter's methodist church and church halls on Park Lane in Norwich before construction work started on the site. Photo: Bill Smith


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