East Budleigh, Devon | Listed Grade II*
History and Architecture
Salem (short for 'Jerusalem') dates from 1719. It was originally a Presbyterian chapel but later housed a Congregational meeting for many generations and in the 1980s was briefly in the ownership of the Assembly of God.
The building is square with a four-hipped roof. The walls are largely of stone, now rendered. There is a datestone "Salem chapel, built 1719" and a window cill inscribed "enlarged 1836" when the seating capacity was augmented.
Inside, the gallery across the front end dates from 1719. Two others were added in 1836 and are supported on slender cast-iron columns with moulded caps. The roof structure is of special interest: the vaulted ceiling rises from a single central post - originally of timber, replaced in the nineteenth century by a cast iron one. This in turn has now given way to a stronger modern steel column. When the cast-iron post was removed a purse containing coins and other items was found.
A 16 page History and Guide to this small but fascinating building is avalable, with colour illustrations. £5 including postage. Makle cheques payable to 'Historic Chapels Trust' and post to: HCT 55 Alie Street, London E1 8EB
A free 2-page guide can be downloaded here.
Repair and Regeneration
Historic Chapels Trust rescued Salem from dereliction after its last congregation disbanded and had sold the building to a private owner, who neglected it. A campaign to save the building was spearheaded by local resident Kathy Moyle. When HCT acquired Salem it was in a state of imminent collapse and was nearly lost forever. Historic Chapels Trust raised £700,000 in grants from the Heritgage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, foundations and other supporters for restoration and the scheme was completed in 2006. Now restored and with some modern facilities the building has a new life as a community building. A local group of volunteers is now active in helping to manage and maintain it.
Salem Chapel and its school room can be hired for meetings, exhibitions, concerts and other events. The school room is also available separately.
You can also get married at Salem Chapel. Please contact one of the keyholders for details.
Supporting Salem Chapel
HCT seeks to ensure upkeep of Salem as the physical evidence of a small but vital strand in our religious and social history. Please consider leaving a bequest in your will to support the future maintenance and upkeep of Salem, so that we can hand this fragile building on to future generations.