Building Name

Unitarian Chapel Upper Brook Street

1837 - 1839
Upper Brook Street
GMCA, England
New build
Converted to residential
Grade II*
Bowden and Edwards


Charles Barry was originally engaged by the wealthy Unitarians to prepare a classical design for the building. At an estimated cost of £12,000 this proved too expensive for the congregation and an alternative Gothic scheme costing half that sum was adopted. Thus, finance not architectural principal informed their choice.  In the 1890s two side galleries were installed. The building closed as a Unitarian Chapel in 1921

MANCHESTER - The Unitarian Chapel, the first stone of which was laid 8th of September 1837, and which was opened for divine in the beginning of September 1839, is a handsome stone edifice of good design, in the later style of English Gothic, by Mr C Barry, whose taste and abilities had been previously displayed at Manchester in the Royal Institution, and Athenaeum, which latter was described in our volume for 1837. The west or entrance front consists of a porch, with a large window above it. and terminates in a sharply pointed gable; while at the angles are massive stone buttresses surmounted by crocketted pinnacles. Each of the side elevations is divided by buttresses into seven bays, each containing a single window; and that of the east end has a circular window in its upper part, over a projecting portion of the edifice, consisting of the vestry and committee room. The interior is 73 feet by 37, and has no galleries except at the west end, where they are recessed over the inner porch or lobby, owing to which circumstance they seem rather to give additional space to than at all encroach upon or encumber the body of the building. [The British Almanac for 1840 page 234]

MANCHESTER —The now Unitarian Chapel was opened for divine service at the beginning of the last month; it is situate nearly opposite Clifford-street, Upper Brook-street. The chapel (the corner stone of which was laid on the 8th September 1837, the wall. being at that time level with the floor) is a handsome stone edifice, from an original design by Mr Charles Barry (who was present during the services), the architect of the new houses of parliament, of the free grammar school of King Edward IV, Birmingham, and of the Royal Institution and the Athenæum in this town. The style of architecture of the chapel, is what is designated the mixed or English. The west, or entrance end, has a cathedral-like entrance, chiefly the result of a bold arch, enclosing gothic folding-doors, and a double arched window above, between light elegant pillars. The corners, as well as both sides of the building, are flanked by massive stone buttresses, surmounted by crocketted pinnacles, and a high pointed roof, covered with green slates. The sides of the chapel are respectively divided, by eight buttresses, into seven bays, each containing a high arched window. The east or vestry end, has a circular window, below which is an attached, projected building, comprising a convenient vestry and a committee-room, each about fourteen feet square. The entrance to the chapel has two porches; stairs on each side of the outer arch communicate with the organ gallery and small galleries which form its wings, aIl being over the porches, and not projecting at all into the body of the chapel. The inner porch opens into lobbies, through which are entrances to the floor of the chapel. The position and form of the west-end galleries, placed as it were in arched recesses, and there being no other gallery, contribute to pleasing and novel effect which is produced in the interior by the lofty space terminating in an arched roof. approaching to the pointed of or lancet form, The dimensions of the chapel are 73 feet by 37 feet, inside measure. The chapel contains, on the floor, 88 pews, and four In the small galleries, and will furnish accommodation altogether for 450 persons. There are two side aisles, as in the late Mosley-street chapel, dividing the pews into three tiers, all on the level; and building can be warmed by means of hot water passing under the flooring, and the warm air from which ascends through gratings bordering the aisles. The cost of the land around (which is hereafter to be surrounded with an iron palisading in harmony with the style that pervades the building,) and of the edifice itself, which was erected by Messrs Bowden and Edwards, is between and £8,000 and £9,000 - Manchester Advertiser. [Civil Engineer and Architects Journal October 1839 page 397]

Note        See also T W Atkinson for alternative designs.

Reference    Victorian Society in Manchester Spring 2007 page 4 –  research by Alan Rose
Reference    The British Almanac for 1840 page 234
Reference    Civil Engineer and Architects Journal October 1839 page 397