Records of Ullet Road Church and its predecessors.
|Title:||Records of Ullet Road Church and its predecessors.|
1. Castle Hey Chapel, 1 vol., 1718-1725
2. Benn's Garden Chapel 2 vols., 246 docs., 1 photograph, 1726- c. 1860, 
3. Renshaw St. Chapel, 37 vols., 167 docs., 1811-1905
4. Trustees of Renshaw St. Chapel 1 vol., 10 docs., 1821, 1860, 1902
5. Mount Pleasant Schools 6 vols., 3 docs., 1820-1881
6. Renshaw St. Chapel Sunday School 17 vols., 5 docs., 1854-1914
7. Ullet Road Church 44 vols., 384 docs., 31 pamphlets, 1862, 1895-1974
8. Other Unitarian Congregations and Associations 6 vols., 40 docs., 1719-1962
9. Miscellaneous items, 3 vols., 8 photographs and other items
10. Papers relating to the Benn's Garden Welsh Wesleyan Chapel 170 docs., 1814-1866
11. Psalm Books, etc. 19 vols., [1764-1899]
12 Ullet Road Unitarian Church
|Held by:||Liverpool Record Office, not available at The National Archives|
The Unitarian Congregation of Ullet Road Church has its origins in a chapel founded in Castle Hey in 1688 as "a relief or down town daughter to the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth Park" (see Liverpool Echo, 2 May 1938). From this chapel the Congregation moved in 1727 to a newly built chapel in Benn's (or Ben's) Garden, Redcross Street. Here the congregation flourished for over 80 years, and included in its numbers were such prominent citizens as William Roscoe and William Enfield. A Sunday School, probably founded in 1784, proved so successful that in 1790 it was decided to open a daily Charity School (see Walking Together, p. 67).
In 1810 came the decision to build a new chapel. The approach to Benn's Gardens was awkward and well to do citizens had moved away from the Water Street/Castle Street area of the town. A new site was acquired in Renshaw Street, and the new chapel designed by William Byrom, was completed in October 1811. The chapel was registered as a "Presbyterian Chapel or Meeting House" under the terms of An Act for exempting their Majesties Protestant Subjects dissenting from the Church of England from the Penalties of certain Laws, 1. Will. & Mary, c. 18 (1688) on 18 October 1811 (see 288 ULL 3/15/1 below). The old Benn's Garden chapel was sold in 1814 to the Welsh Wesleyan Methodists who continued to use the chapel until 1866 when the premises were converted to commercial uses.
The idea of rebuilding the chapel seems to have first appeared in 1862 (see 288 ULL 7/12/1 below), but it was not until the ministry of Leopold de Beaumont Klein (1895-1903) that the idea gained ground. The chapel premises in Renshaw Street were considered to be inadequate, and, as in 1811, the location of the chapel was no longer in a residential area of the town. In April 1894 the Council recommended a move, although strong opposition was voiced to such a move. The intended site on the south side of Ullet Road could not be obtained, however another on the north side of Ullet Road was secured. The architects of the new church were Thomas Worthington & Son. The new church, which was described by Miss Holt as "one of the few satisfactory Nonconformist churches, where beauty and simplicity have been united, and reverence combined with the essential needs of a Protestant church"(Walking Together, p. 232), was opened on 18 June 1899. In that year Sir John Brunner and Henry Tate made a gift of a church hall and cloisters : these buildings were formally opened in 1903.
In 1902 the site of the Renshaw Street Chapel and Graveyard had been purchased by Liverpool Corporation. The graveyard was closed and laid out as gardens, which became known as Roscoe Gardens, opened in 1905. A survey of the gravestones was undertaken in 1903 (see 288 ULL 3/5/1-15).
Details of the various ministers of the Ullet Road Congregation can be found in Walking Together, although biographies of several of them including Henry Winder, William Enfield and George Harris can be found in the Dictionary of National Biography. A number of Henry Winder's manuscripts and notebooks are preserved in Manchester College, Oxford.
The most authoritative history of the Ullet Road Congregation can be found in Anne Holt's Walking Together, 1938, whilst more details can be found in Few Reminiscences of the Old Benn's Garden Presbyterian Chapel, and of the Renshaw Street Unitarian Church and the Congregations Assembling Therein, 1868 and Reminiscences of Renshaw Street Chapel, 1899. An MS history, The Origin and History of the Society of Unitarian Christians assembling in the Chapel in Renshaw Street, Liverpool, compiled by Henry Taylor, 1826, is listed below at 288 ULL 3/16/1.
Further details can also be found in Evans, George E., History of Renshaw Street Chapel and its Institutions, with some account of the former chapels in Castle Hey and Benn's Garden, Liverpool, 1887, whilst Roberts, H.D., Hope Street Church ..., 1909 contains some useful information.
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