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Kendal United Reformed Church, Kendal

Description: Kendal United Reformed Church

Grade: II
Date Listed: 2 April 2012
English Heritage Building ID: 1404303

OS Grid Reference: SD5141492438
OS Grid Coordinates: 351413, 492437
Latitude/Longitude: 54.3252, -2.7485

Locality: Kendal
Local Authority: South Lakeland District Council
County: Cumbria
Country: England
Postcode: LA9 4DN

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Listing Text


An unaltered late C19 Congregationalist Church with a complete and high quality interior.

Reason for Listing

This late C19 Congregationalist Church is recommended for listing at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: despite the limitations of its site, the main east elevation is well detailed and articulated in Early English gothic
* Interior quality: the interior has an integrated timber decorative scheme of good quality, including curving gallery and pews.
* Materials and craftsmanship: good quality materials are used throughout, and there is a high level of craftsmanship in details such as the gallery fronts and timber arcades.
* Intactness: the church has remained intact without any significant alteration from its inception.


Kendal United Reformed Church was built as Zion Congregational Chapel in 1898 to replace an earlier, adjacent chapel of 1844. The chapel was designed by the local architect, Stephen Shaw F.R.I.B.A. The foundation stone was laid on 10 September by Miss Whitwell and Mrs W H Somervell and the chapel opened on 5 October 1898. It provided seating for 389 people on the ground floor and 268 in the galleries. In 1923, the original plaster ceiling fell and was replaced with pine boarding. The URC was established in 1972 as the union of the Congregational Church of England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church of England; the Kendal Zion Congregational Church and St John’s Presbyterian Church voted to join this union. They amalgamated in 1980 and decided to use the Zion premises. The organ was inserted into the apse in 1936 as a memorial to William Henry Somervell (1860-1934).


Church of 1898 by Stephen Shaw in Early English style

MATERIALS: local limestone with sandstone dressings; Westmorland slate roofs; leaded or coloured glass to all windows. Pitch pine interior woodwork.

PLAN: situated towards the rear of a long yard and has a rectangular nave with a semi-circular apse at the west end.

EXTERIOR: the east end has three gabled bays under a single pitched roof, with a wide central bay defined by stepped buttresses rising to full height with pinnacles. The central bay has a projecting and gabled main entrance with flanking lean-to projections. The entrance has a pointed arch with moulded soffit, supported by buttresses, containing a semi-circular fan light above six short lancets; below are paired shoulder arched entrances with double wooden plank doors. To either side of the entrance there are paired lancets. Above this, is the main east window resting on a band, in the form of a large pointed arch containing paired lancets and a multifoil with flanking lancets unified by a continuous hoodmould. There are stepped lancets and a sill band above, and the apex of the gable is surmounted by a Celtic cross. Each end bay forms a stair turret with a single, buttressed and pointed arched entrance with hoodmould, containing a trefoil-headed doorway with wooden boarded door. There is a large cross-window with a sill band over each. The buttressed north and south elevations are pierced by six round arched windows at nave and gallery level, containing paired lancets in timber frames. The west end has a full height apse, partially obscured by the flat roofed vestries, with two sets of paired lancets above and cinquefoil windows to either aisle.

INTERIOR: the apsidal west end is defined by a pointed arch with plaster inner arch-ring and hoodmould. Its walls are plainly painted, and nine evenly spaced lancets with a plaster sill band form its upper level. The apse contains the large organ; pointed arched openings, with six-panelled doors and a plaster trefoil decoration above, are situated to the right and left of the organ; these lead to vestries to the rear with plain cornices and cast iron and wooden fireplaces and linked by a corridor with geometric tiles. Immediately to the front of the organ, stands the wide, carved wooden pulpit with stairs to the rear and integral seating beneath; a communion table stands forwards of this. The nave is plainly painted above a wainscot, and retains a full compliment of wooden benches. The arch-braced roof springs from a timber arcade, supported on clustered pillars of Burmese teak with stone bases, which divides the aisles from the nave. Aisle tie beams have decorative timber tracery infill. Broad, curving and steeply raked galleries are set around three sides of the church with ornately carved fronts and supports and curving pews. Wooden and brass memorials to the Fallen of both World Wars are affixed to the west wall of the nave. A panelled vestibule at the east end of the church and flanking side lobbies within the base of the stair turrets have tiled geometric floors and wooden doors with cinquefoil coloured glass upper parts.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: there is a long flight of stone steps up to the main church entrance, flanked by metal railings with a pair of iron lamp stands; there is a raised stone-revetted flower bed to the right.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.