The Old Chapel is one of the oldest buildings in Upminster dating back to 1800, before the construction of Upminster Windmill but still with connections to James Nokes who funded both the building of the Windmill and the Old Chapel and was a member of the Chapel congregation. The Abrahams family who worked the Mil were also members of the Chapel congregation It was built as a ‘Protestant Dissenters’ chapel and was used up until 1912 by the Congregational Church who moved into new and biger premises in Station Road just before the start of World War 1. A Plymouth Brethren congregation took over the premises in 1912 and occupied and used the building until 1988.

The Sacred Heart of Mary Girls’ School acquired the Old Chapel in 2005 when it was in a state of dilapidation and on the English Heritage ‘At Risk’ Register. From the date of acquisition up until 2011 when renovation works began, the Project Manager appointed from the Senior Leadership Team at the School, Stuart Beck, worked with personnel at the London Office of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and with professional consultants to put together a bid for an HLF grant of almost £700k and to raise a further £400k from other sources. Renovation work started in 2011 and the building was officially opened in March 2013 as a chapel for the School as a worshipping community as well as a historical resource and venue for local community activity.

Further information about the history and pictures of the Chapel is given in the final section below

Hire of the Premises

The Chapel can be hired  for use by community groups and enquiries should be addressed to Mrs Linda Austin at the School by telephone (01708 222660 – Finance – Option 5) or by emaiI [email protected].

Friends of the Old Chapel

The Friends of Upminster Old Chapel (the Friends) was formed just before renovation work started in the early 2010s as part of the Activity Plan approved and supported by HLF. The Friends have a committee that organises various events in support of the Chapel, its heritage as well as the general promotion of topics of local, historical interest. The main work of the committee is focused on raising funds for the upkeep of the Old Chapel. Newsletters are produced as and when needed and a monthly ‘tea and talk’ programme is organised. The Friends also administer the membership list and membership currently costs £10 a year.

To contact the Friends, please use the following e-mail address [email protected]

The latest newsletter produced by the Friends is provided here:



Here we are, still at Roope Hall which has proved to be a very convenient temporary home while we wait for the remedial works at the Old Chapel to be started. Little did we know back in August 2021 that it would take so long – currently, no news of any decisions or actions which makes it difficult to plan ahead. For the time being we will be continuing to hold our Teas & Talks at Roope Hall.

With members’ agreement, we introduced a supplementary charge of £2 per member when attending the Teas & Talks which has helped to cover the rent on the understanding that this would cease once we move back to the Old Chapel.  Unfortunately, we will be continuing to pay rent for the time being so would like to suggest that we continue with the supplementary fee but we are always willing to listen to your views and suggestions – please email us or come and talk to us at the March meeting. It was too hectic at this month’s Teas & Talks to be able to discuss this matter with you.

Membership Renewal 1st April

Reminder that membership fees of £10 per person are due on 1st April 2023. Payments via the bank account are our preferred method and we encourage members to use this option.

  • Most members pay by Standing Order which will need to be updated in time for the payment to be made. There is a Standing Order instruction form attached for your convenience – please use and take or post to your bank.
  • For those members using internet banking with a Standing Order instruction already in place: this can be amended via the ‘edit’ option to show the new rate of £10.
  • Members using the Faster Payment (FPI) please use the following bank details:
      • Sort Code:  30-14-24 (Lloyds)
      • Account Number: 22636468
      • Account name: Friends of the Old Chapel

     Please quote your surname and post code as reference on all payments

  • Members wishing to pay by cash:  Cash payments can be made at our March and April meetings.

We know that there may be a few hiccups while we move over to the new membership rate but please work with us – we want to avoid cash top-up payments (when the bank payment has been processed at the old rate) as this will be a headache for us to manage. Your support and co-operation will be appreciated.

February’s Teas & Talks: Miss Willmott’s Ghosts

We do not know whether it was the topic or the speaker, Sandra Lawrence, which had triggered huge response from the community  – for the first time, we had to turn quite a number of people away  after filling the hall to capacity – 70 people!

We know how disappointing this was for some members as well as some of our regular visitors who were unable to be admitted.

We have suggested that other local groups may like to invite Sandra to deliver the same talk at other local venues as so many people were interested.

Geoff Hartnell

We were sorry to hear of the death of Geoff Hartnell last month. Geoff had been a founder member of the Friends of the Old Chapel and had been very involved through to the autumn of 2020 when he stepped down from the committee because of health issues. He still continued to support the committee by assisting us with the review of the Constitution during the following year.

Geoff was a warm and friendly person who would go out of his way to help others. He had a wealth of knowledge and various interests – he will be sadly missed.

Summer Teas & Talks Programme

Wednesday 12th April -Two Very Different Victorian Philanthropists

Margaret Mills will talk about two Victorians with a social conscience, Sir Titus Salt and Angela Burdett-Coutts.  Opinions are divided about them, and one of them scandalised Queen Victoria!

Wednesday 10th May – Essex Heroes and Villains

Martyn Lockwood a former policeman looks at those famous historical characters from different walks of life who were born or who lived in Essex.

Wednesday 14th June – Upminster Old Chapel – then, now and in the future and AGM

Stuart Beck who wrote the funding bid for the Old Chapel restoration will talk about the history and the future of the Old Chapel.

Wednesday 12th July – Shopping in Upminster through the ages

Local historian Tony Benton will explore the changing face of central Upminster over the years.

We look forward to seeing you at the Teas & Talks.


The Committee

Email: [email protected]