Historic chapel to re-open after major restoration project

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an historic chapel has been restored to new glory in a £500,000 project in Yorkshire.

Built in 1744 by Sir William Wentworth, the sandstone Bretton Estate chapel, near Wakefield, was a place of worship for two centuries until it was deconsecrated in the 1970s.

It was neglected for many years prior to its purchase by the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2001 and was in such poor condition it was placed on English Heritage’s heritage at risk register.

Now it is set to re-open with an installation by acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei which opens next month.

The chapel was designed by James Moyser, a prominent Yorkshire architect who also worked on the Palladian mansion Bretton Hall, which still stands in the park today.

Restoration work to the outside of the building included the renewal of the roof, repairs to eliminate water ingress and damp, and the renovation of external stonework. Inside, repairs have been made to the floor and internal timbers, while new lighting, heating and ventilation systems, and an environmentally-friendly air source heat pump have been installed.

Trevor Mitchell, Yorkshire planning and conservation director at English Heritage, said: “The restoration of this stunning chapel and its new life as a top quality exhibition space show what an amazing resource we have in our region’s historic buildings. With imagination, well-targeted funding and partnership working we can help get special buildings like the Bretton Estate chapel off the heritage at risk register and back into use – so once again local people, as well Yorkshire’s many visitors, can enjoy them.”

The exhibition, the first by Ai Weiwei in a British public gallery since 2010, opens on May 24.