Renshaw Street Unitarian Chapel

Renshaw Street Unitarian Chapel was a Unitarian place of worship in Mount Pleasant, Liverpool, England. It operated from 1811 until the 1890s and was particularly well frequented by ship-owning and mercantile families, who formed a close network of familial and business alliances.

Pulpit at Renshaw Street Unitarian Chapel, Liverpool, constructed in 1811.

OriginsEdit

Renshaw Street Unitarian Chapel had its origins in a Presbyterian community at Toxteth Park that was at one time ministered by Richard Mather.[1] That began around 1687 at Castle Hey and moved to Benn's Gardens in 1727.[2] The Benn's Gardens premises became a place of worship for Welsh Wesleyan Methodists[3] when the new Unitarian chapel was built at Renshaw Street in 1811.

ArchitectureEdit

One of its later ministers wrote, many decades after the congregation had left the building:

Architecturally the Chapel may be described as Puritanism turned into stone, a fortress built foursquare against the assaults of Satan, an Ironside amongst chapels, with no beauty that men should desire it, save that of fitness for its purpose. This was defined by the Open Trust Deed as the worship of God, whose Divine Nature, as indicated by the architecture, was clearly that of Ein feste burg[a mighty fortress].[4]

The German words are a reference to the Bach cantata of that name, and "Ironside" is a nickname for an armoured car in use at the time of writing.

CongregationEdit

The new chapel had a congregation that included numerous significant local business families, such as the Booths, Brunners, Gairs, Gaskells, Hollands, Jevons, Jones, Holts,[5] Lamports, Mellys, Rathbones, Tates and Thornelys.[6][7] It has been described as "the meeting house for a tightly-knit network of Unitarian ship owners and merchants who frequently formed alliances by marriage, met socially, invested in one another's ventures, shared or exchanged practical skills, embarked on philanthropic (especially educational) schemes, and engaged fully in the politics of reform".[8]

The incumbent Reverend John H. Thom was married to a Rathbone. Thom described Emma Holt from another wealthy Liverpool family as an "almoner" to old people requiring assistance, in the year that he died.[5]

Historian Susan Pedersen notes that "politically as progressive as such families might be, they were intensely socially exclusive".

The move to Ullet StreetEdit

Land for a new chapel was purchased in 1895[2] and congregation moved to the new Ullet Road Unitarian Church, near Sefton Park, in 1899,[9] mirroring a general move of the mercantile classes away from the city centre and towards its more salubrious peripheries. Many members built houses in the area.[10]

The Renshaw Street site is now occupied by Grand Central Hall. The chapel graveyard remains as a garden and a monument commemorates the previous use.[11][12] The cemetery had been closed to new burials under the provisions of sanitary regulations but Thomas Thornely, who died in 1862, was successful in his appeal to the prime minister, Lord Palmerston, to permit, under strict conditions, the burial of people closely related to those already interred. Palmerston himself had been potentially excluded from interment in a family vault elsewhere under the same regulations.[13]

Notable ministersEdit

Notable congregantsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Chapple, John (1997). Elizabeth Gaskell: The Early Years. Manchester University Press. p. 392. ISBN 978-0-71902-550-1.
  2. ^ a b Evans, George Eyre (1897). Vestiges of Protestant Dissent. Liverpool: F. & E. Gibbons. pp. 135–138.
  3. ^ Picton, James Allanson (1875). Memorials of Liverpool. Vol. 2 (2 ed.). Longmans, Green & Co. p. 98.
  4. ^ L. P. Jacks The Confessions of an Octagenarian (1942), quoted in A. H. John A Liverpool Merchant House: Being the History of Alfred Booth and Company, 1863-1958 (2005) [1]
  5. ^ a b c "Holt, Emma Georgina (1862–1944), philanthropist and supporter of women's higher education". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/52395. Retrieved 4 September 2020. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. ^ John, A. H. (2013). A Liverpool Merchant House: Being the History of Alfred Booth & Co. 1863-1959. Routledge. pp. 19–20. ISBN 978-1-13660-519-2.
  7. ^ Marsden, Ben; Smith, Crosbie (2004). Engineering Empires: A Cultural History of Technology in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Springer. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-23050-412-7.
  8. ^ a b c Smith, Crosbie; Higginson, Ian; Wolstenholme, Phillip (2003). ""Imitations of God's Own Works": Making Trustworthy the Ocean Steamship". History of Science. 41 (4): 379–426. Bibcode:2003HisSc..41..379S. doi:10.1177/007327530304100402. S2CID 142885956.
  9. ^ Jevons, William Stanley (1973). Black, R. D. Collison (ed.). Papers and Correspondence of William Stanley Jevons: Correspondence, 1850-1862. Vol. 2. Macmillan. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-34900-714-1.
  10. ^ Pedersen, Susan (2004). Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience. Yale University Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-30010-245-1.
  11. ^ "Ullet Road Unitarian Church". Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  12. ^ Historic England. "Monument, in garden above Upper Newington, Liverpool (1208379)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  13. ^ Aspland, Robert (June 1862). "Memoir of the late Thomas Thornely, Esq". Christian Reformer. XVIII (CCX): 361–384.
  14. ^ Gordon, Alexander (2004). "Beard, Charles (1827–1888), Unitarian minister, scholar, and journal editor". Webb, R. K. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 10 February 2017. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  15. ^ Chapple, John; Shelston, Alan, eds. (2004). Further Letters of Mrs. Gaskell. Manchester University Press. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-71906-771-6.
  16. ^ a b Chapple, John (1997). Elizabeth Gaskell: The Early Years. Manchester University Press. p. 393. ISBN 978-0-71902-550-1.
  17. ^ "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online". University of Toronto. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  18. ^ Rushton, Alan (2005). "Jacks, Lawrence Pearsall". In Brown, Stuart (ed.). The Dictionary Of Twentieth-Century British Philosophers. Thoemmes Continuum. pp. 472–3. ISBN 1-84371-096-X.
  19. ^ Melville, Herman (1968). Hayford, Harrison (ed.). The writings of Herman Melville, Volume 15. Northwestern University Press. p. 388. ISBN 978-0-81010-822-6.
  20. ^ Koss, Stephen E. (1970). Sir John Brunner: Radical Plutocrat 1842-1919. London: Cambridge University Press. p. 7. ISBN 0-521-07906-3.
  21. ^ Sharples, Joseph (2007). "Secular Gothic Revival Architecture". In Costambeys, Marios; Hamer, Andrew; Heale, Martin (eds.). The Making of the Middle Ages: Liverpool Essays. Liverpool University Press. p. 227. ISBN 978-1-84631-068-3.
  22. ^ Chapple, John (1997). Elizabeth Gaskell: The Early Years. Manchester University Press. p. 169. ISBN 978-0-71902-550-1.
  23. ^ Leggett, Don (2016). Dunn, Richard (ed.). Re-inventing the Ship: Science, Technology and the Maritime World, 1800-1918. Routledge. pp. 72–73. ISBN 978-1-31706-837-2.
  24. ^ Marsden, Ben; Smith, Crosbie (2004). Engineering Empires: A Cultural History of Technology in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Springer. pp. 120, 123. ISBN 978-0-23050-412-7.
  25. ^ John, A. H. (2013). A Liverpool Merchant House: Being the History of Alfred Booth & Co. 1863-1959. Routledge. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-13660-519-2.
  26. ^ Pedersen, Susan (2004). Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience. Yale University Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-30010-245-1.
  27. ^ Bullard, Melissa Merriam (2016). "Roscoe's Renaissance in America". In Fletcher, Stella (ed.). Roscoe and Italy: The Reception of Italian Renaissance History and Culture in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Routledge. p. 221. ISBN 978-1-31706-121-2.
  28. ^ Kelley, Thomas; Whelan, R. F. (1981). For Advancement of Learning: The University of Liverpool, 1881-1981. Liverpool University Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-85323-304-6.
  29. ^ Bebbington, D. W. (April 2009). "Unitarian Members of Parliament in the Nineteenth Century — A Catalogue" (PDF). Transactions of the Unitarian Historical Society. 24 (3): 49–50.
  30. ^ Bebbington, D. W. (April 2009). "Unitarian Members of Parliament in the Nineteenth Century — A Catalogue" (PDF). Transactions of the Unitarian Historical Society. 24 (3): 54.

Further readingEdit

  • Evans, George Eyre (1887). A history of Renshaw Street Chapel and its institutions with some account of the former chapels in Castle Hey and Benn's Garden, Liverpool. London: C. Green and Son.
  • Holt, Anne Durning (1938). Walking together: a study in Liverpool nonconformity 1688-1938. London: George Allen & Unwin.

Coordinates: 53°24′15″N 2°58′35″W / 53.40419°N 2.9765°W / 53.40419; -2.9765