Avebury's historic chapel has been sold

Written by Tony Millett on .

The small chapel that stands right at the heart of the Avebury stone circle has been sold by the United Reformed Church (URC).  When no longer used as a place of worship, it was for a time a Tourist Information Centre funded by Wiltshire Council.

Its future has been the subject of long and sometimes fierce debate in the village.  Last summer a group was formed called the Avebury Sacred Trust which wanted to raise £150,000 to turn the chapel into a centre for spirituality and interfaith understanding.  They would also have kept the 'quiet garden' at the rear of the chapel.

However, they could not raise the funds and the URC put the chapel on the market at the asking price of £150,000.  It was marketed as "Suitable for community use or to convert to a single dwelling (subject to permission)."

The sale is now in the hands of solicitors and until it is complete the agents are unable to say who the buyer is.

There are some restrictions on the Chapel's future use: "There are headstones to the front of the property and access will need to be given to them."  In addition there are binding 'special conditions and covenants' on the sale of URC properties.

These include: future owners cannot use the property for 'the sale of alcoholic liquor for consumption on or off the Property'. Nor can they use the property for gambling 'or in connection with any illegal or immoral purpose'.  And owners cannot use 'any reference to The United Reformed Church' in the name of the property.

The Chapel is of historical importance as an early example of a Dissenters’ meeting house. Following an Act of Parliament in1665, dissenting clergy were forbidden to preach within five miles of their former parish churches.  What is more it is the only such chapel built within a prehistoric stone circle.