Mount Zion Heritage Chapel

Mount Zion Heritage Chapel

Mount Zion has been home to Methodist worship for nearly 240 years and its rich heritage - including direct links to Methodism’s founder, John Wesley - is now being utilised as an asset to tell the Christian story in the 21st Century.

It’s also a place where on a summer’s afternoon you can enjoy a cream tea, sample the delights of the chapel and explore the stunning graveyard, while the chapel itself is also an increasingly popular venue for weddings.

The story of Mount Zion began when John Wesley came to Halifax to preach in 1748 and in the crowd was a man from Bradshaw called James Riley. The great man clearly made a huge impression, as Riley said “Wesley disturbed my conscience and troubled my soul.”

The following Sunday Riley went to Haworth to hear the Rev William Grimshaw. All this resulted in a house meeting being formed. The idea of building a meeting place for the Methodists dates came in 1772 when, during a snowstorm, the visiting preacher was stranded for a week at a house of one of the members of the Methodist society.

The chapel and adjoining cottage were opened in 1773 and Wesley came to visit and stayed in the cottage in April 1774. The room he slept in, now called the Prophet’s Chamber, can still be seen today. His last visit came in 1790 when he was a frail 87-year-old.

The 1773 chapel was demolished and the present building put in its place in 1815.  The only remains of the 1773 chapel are the sundial on the front of the building and the foundation stone from the first building.  An impression of the original can be gained from the adjoining chapel keeper's cottage which was erected at the same time and in the same architectural style. 

There have been a number of Sunday School buildings and the latest is still there but in private ownership.  The first Sunday School was built in 1816 and the lower storey was a day school.

The organ in the present chapel was built in 1892 by Charles Anneessens et fils of Belgium and still provides the music for services to this day.

The interior of the Chapel was done by Leeming and Leeming in 1881 - they also furnished the interior of the Admiralty Building in London.  The pews are pitch pine and there are 170 ground floor and 180 gallery places.  The original pew rent board is in the vestry.

The building also houses the historic Hird Collection of Methodist Ceramics which was bequeathed by Alderman Horace Hird of Bradford, a one-time Lord Mayor and a Primitive Methodist. There is also a collection of pictures which are displayed in the chapel during open days.  These depict the life and times of Wesley.

The chapel is open to the public between April and September every Tuesday 2pm-4pm. Light refreshments in the form of a cuppa and biscuits are available for a small donation. On Tuesdays in June, July and August,  cream teas are also available.

Guided tours can be arranged on request outside of our usual April-September opening times. We also hold various artistic exhibitions, occasional musical concerts and open days throughout the year, and there are also occasional local historical and Methodist history talks.

Mount Zion is also an ideal venue for retreats, while links have also been built with local schools who visit for special services and Victorian-themed activity days.

Please see our website and Facebook page for details. You can email the Circuit Heritage Officer on chme@calderdalemethodists.org.uk for more information or to arrange a visit.

Parking is limited on Per Lane outside the chapel, so if you visit us by car, please park safely and considerately on the roadside. Please take care when using the flagged path approaching the chapel. The flags are uneven and can be slippery when wet.

Published at 30 Jul 2019

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