Square Independent Chapel, Halifax

The red brick Square Independent Chapel was built at The Square, Halifax by Thomas Bradley and James Kershaw for Titus Knight.

The name Square comes from its location, not its design.

This was the first Independent congregation in Halifax.

The Chapel opened on 24th May 1772. The Countess of Huntingdon gave financial assistance for the construction.

The chapel was 60 ft square and was then the largest and most splendid place of Nonconformist worship in the country and described as

a pantheon of the present age

It had the longest unsupported roof span in the country.

There is a Venetian window at the front.

Traces of paint on the brickwork and stone have been analysed and found to contain a mixture of lime, linseed oil and bull's blood. The blood would have emphasised the red of the brick.

The cost of building the chapel was said to be around £2,000. The pulpit cost £100. There was much criticism of the cost, and Knight addressed this in his poem Hhadash Hamishcan

When John Wesley visited the chapel in July 1772, he wrote:

My old friend, Titus Knight, offered me the use of his new meeting, larger than Dr Taylor's at Norwich ... and finished with the utmost elegance; but I judged more people would attend in the open air, so I preached in the cow market to a huge multitude

Founder members included

some of whom contributed between 100 and 250 guineas towards the cost.

The Crossley family pledged to give some of their profits to the Chapel and other church and social plans if the carpet business prospered.

Square Sunday School opened in 1804.

Ministers at the Chapel have included


The organ, by Wards of York [1821], was moved to St John in the Wilderness, Cragg Vale. Details can be found in the National Pipe Organ Register.

A later organ, by W. Holt of Leeds, was moved to Bridge End Congregational Church, Brighouse. Details can be found in the National Pipe Organ Register.

The last service was held in Square Chapel on 12th June, 1857.

The building then became a Sunday School for Square Congregational Church and alterations were made to the interior: the pulpit and galleries were removed and a floor was installed at gallery level, and the ground level was divided with a central corridor and rooms to the side.

For a time, the building was used as an assembly hall for classes, school prize-givings, scouts groups and rehearsals for the Square Orchestra.

In 1939, it was requisitioned by the army.

It was acquired by Calderdale Council in 1969. After efforts from the Victorian Society, the building was listed for preservation in 1970 – although (and here's a surprise!) the Council voted for its demolition in 1985.

In 1989, the Council sold the building to the Square Chapel Building Trust for £25. With the help of a £3.5 million restoration project fund, work on making the chapel structurally sound was completed in 1990 It was converted into the Square Chapel Arts Centre in 1992.

There is a small graveyard.

The base of the original font stands outside the entrance to the Chapel. The original pulpit – without its steps – has been resited in the restaurant area of the building

See Cornelius Ashworth, Crossley family graves, Abel Wadsworth Dean, Gaol Lane, Range Bank Day School, Halifax, Refurbished Piece Hall, Square Chapel Day School, Halifax, Square Chapel, Halifax, Square Independent Chapel: Graveyard and Square Chapel Sunday School, Halifax

© Malcolm Bull 2022
Revised 13:13 / 19th January 2022 / 8721

Page Ref: KK_15

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