Upper Wincobank Chapel celebrates 200 years of community action

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The chapel congregation put on beautiful flower displays that had been created by members of activity groups to commemorate the event.

All the community groups were represented at the event, including singing and exercise classes, junior youth club, crafts and coffee mornings. As well as the church services such as weddings, baptisms, anniversary celebrations and the traditional crowning of the May Queen.

Many of the churches activities are centered around the elderly to bring them together and stop them from feeling isolated at home.

Penny Rea, trustee and member of the congregation said: "What we celebrated over the weekend dates back before the physical building was actually built"

The chapel building was built by anti-slavery activist Mary Ann Rawson in 1841 however the chapel was started by her mother 24 years previously in a coach house on the estate.

Originally from Newcastle, Penny moved to the area 12 years ago and noticed that the chapel was being renovated. After assuming that it was being converted into a house she was thrilled when she realised it would be still be a chapel after the work was complete.

She said: "The chapel is definitely an integral part of the community and means a lot to those who live in the area”

Some of those who visited the celebrations had parents who had been involved in the community and were interested to see what they had been apart of, they also brought back old artifacts of their parents that had been linked to the chapel.

Over the past two centuries the chapel has brought the community together through the events and activities held there each week.

Run by members of the congregation the independent chapel does not belong to any denomination. However every Sunday it holds a simple Christian service run by visiting clergy from other churches who volunteer to lead worship.

Although it isn't uncommon for the congregation to lead their own informal service, this usually involves plenty of debate about how teaching in the Gospels applies to life today.

The members of the historic chapel say that whatever your faith, or even if you don't have one you are welcome to join any of the activities they put on or their Sunday service. It also welcomes families - children can play in the main chapel or take part in the Sunday school activities.

Upper Wincobank Chapel is at the heart of four neighborhoods in the area, the Flower Estate, Amaranthus, Maple Croft and the Sandstone Estate.

Penny Rea was the person who uncovered the grave of anti-slavery activist Mary Ann Rawson along with the rest of her family at the Zion Chapel graveyard.

Mary Anne Rawson lived from 1801 to 1887, and spent most of her life at Wincobank Hall, in Sheffield. She was a founding member in 1825 of the Sheffield Female Anti-Slavery Society, which campaigned to end bondage in the British Empire, and she led a boycott of goods produced by slaves.

During her life time in, 1817 Joseph and Elizabeth Read decided to turn the coach house at Wincobank hall into a chapel and the laundry house into a Sunday school for the local people of Wincobank to save them having to walk to Attercliffe or Ecclesfield.

Elizabeth Read ran the Sunday school at the time with her daughters, after this every week they would walk down to Attercliffe to help with the Sunday school - where the family had been regular attendees when they lived at Royds Mill.

The Read family graves which were uncovered are in the disused Zion Graveyard which is currently up for sale.

There will be a meeting on Saturday 1st July at 10am outside the Zion Graveyard at the junction of Zion Lane and Lawrence Street. The chapel members are currently trying to form a 'Friends of Zion' group after uncovering Mary Ann Rawson's body there to preserve and maintain the area as it is a vital part of the history of the area as they are very proud of it's historical background.

The graveyard has been neglected and locked up for many years but volunteers have been working hard to clear paths and ensure safe access.