Crowdfund bid to save ‘secret’ Victorian chapel started by Oxford House arts centre

Waterlogged... the chapel hidden away at Oxford House for 130 years

Waterlogged... the chapel hidden away at Oxford House for 130 years - Credit: Oxford House

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to help save a former settlement chapel that’s been hidden away in London’s East End for more than 130 years.

The campaign aims to restore the unique Victorian prayer hall on the top floor of Oxford House arts and community centre in Bethnal Green.

It needs £25,000 for permanent repairs to the leaking roof and careful restoration to open it up to the public for the first time since the 1880s.

The wood-lined chapel on the top floor of the three-storey complex, completed in 1884, has become unusable in recent years because of the leaking roof, with buckets and plastic sheeting having to be used every day in a losing battle to keep it dry. Temporary repairs have been made, but these are just stop-gap measures.

“We need £25,000 to restore and save the secret chapel,” an Oxford House spokesman said.

“We successfully raised money last year and installed a temporary roof.

“But this has a maximum of five years’ life—we need to fix this problem permanently and open the chapel for community use.”

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The independent not-for-profit arts centre in Derbyshire Street, by Weavers Fields, wants its ‘secret chapel’ opened to the public, as part of a heritage project later this year. It has 30 charities using the building.

The chapel could be used for events such as theatre or dance performances and history talks—even for civil wedding ceremonies.