St Benet's RC Chapel, Merseyside
Netherton, Merseyside | Listed Grade II*
History and Architecture
St. Benet's Chapel was opened in 1793 and is a rare survival of a Catholic church built for a poor community.The chapel is a building of small size and limited architectural ambition but is poignant evidence of the troubled history of Roman Catholicism in this part of England. Erected after the Catholic Relief Acts of 1778 and 1791 when Catholics were allowed to worship openly, a low profile was still considered appropriate. The chapel is mostly hidden behind the attached presbytery. After ups and downs over 180 years it finally became redundant and semi-derelict but has been taken into the care of the Historic Chapels Trust. Some of the interior furnishings have been lost and others stored for restoration. Important survivals including the gallery, the early 19th-century altar and a "pilastered and pedimented altarpiece which has winged cherub heads, a gloria of rays and Adamesque urns and garlands of the type that many churches of the Establishment could boast before the zealous efforts of 'ecclesiological' restorers" (Bryan Little).
A free 2-page guide can be downloaded here.
Repair and Regeneration
HCT has raised grants and donations of over £250,000 so far to repair the structure of the chapel and the presbytery. A third phase of repair works to the exterior and parts of the interior was completed in Spring 2012.
When more funds have been raised we will restore the interior using the evidence of old photographs. The chapel will be presented with the layout which predates the Second Vatican Council of 1962 - which here survived until the 1970s.
Once restored the chapel will be available to hire for a range of suitable secular uses. The chapel is currently unheated but a group from the local community are exploring interim uses during the warmer months, pending full restoration. If you would like to propose a summer event please contact us.