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ABOUT

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Sunny Bank Chapel is owned by a group of friends who are all passionate about the Lake District and particularly the Sunny Bank area and Coniston Water. We regularly come and stay at Sunny Bank ourselves, and have put a lot of thought and effort into equipping the Chapel with everything you could possibly need – whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, an active holiday in the Great Outdoors, gentle walks by the lake or just relaxing and enjoying good food.

History

The story of Sunny Bank Chapel begins in the growth of nonconformist worship (Church of Christ) in Great Britain, after the restoration of Charles II (1660).  During this time Torver was a busy slate mining and farming village.  

 

Sunny Bank Chapel was founded in 1678 by two elders of the Church of Christ in Hexham, John Ward and Robert Blenkinsop.  Ward was a mining engineer and is thought to have made regular visits to the Torver slate mines.  Blenkinsop was a minister at a Nonconformist Chapel at Great Broughton, near Cockermouth.   The chapels were in remote locations probably because preaching in these ‘Dissenting' chapels was illegal until the Act of Toleration in 1689.

 

In 1875, John Birkett the owner of Sunny Bank farm raised the height of the building and added new windows, the porch and a fireplace.  The men who worked on the Chapel left their signatures under the floorboards (you can see these for yourself on the new mezzanine where we have recycled the boards).  The same workmen are known to have also been employed by John Ruskin (1819-1900), who was living at Brantwood at the North East end of the lake. We know that the wonderful oak door on the porch dates from this renovation as the studs spell out the year - 1875. Just behind the chapel, on Torver Common, you can still see the old baptism pool. It's rather silted up now, and the original wooden steps are thought to reside in a local farmhouse.

 

Unfortunately, there are no surviving written records and the Chapel closed for worship circa. 1940.  2019/20 has seen its conversion into an up-market holiday let with the provision of vehicle access, utilities, a bedroom and bathroom extension, and construction of the mezzanine.

Two neighbouring chapels at Tottlebank, founded in 1669, and Hawkshead Hill, founded in 1678, are still open and hold regular Baptist services.

Sunny Bank Chapel before conversion to holiday let

The Chapel prior to the latest renovation

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The baptism pool - just behind the Chapel

Chapel wedding

Set up for a wedding - prior to renovation

Location and Access

The Chapel is set in 16 acres of grounds shared with Sunny Bank Farm (also available for holiday rental - sleeps 12), in the South Western part of the Lake District National Park, about 40 minutes from the M6. The nearest mainline station is Oxenholme just outside Kendal (also 40 minutes drive), or Ulverston (20 minutes drive).

The Chapel is accessed via a gravel track from the A5084, and has its own parking area fenced off from sheep.  There are well-lit steps from there up to the Chapel; however, these are steep and may present a problem for some with mobility difficulties. Please check full details on our Access Statement, available to download as a PDF document.

A 7.2kW charge point is available for use (extra charge) in the parking area.

The hamlet of Sunny Bank consists of just half a dozen dwellings, nestled close to the place where Torver Beck (which has its origins in Goat's Water on the slopes of Coniston Old Man) flows into Coniston Water.

One mile north lies Torver village where there is a good pub, a church and a small deli for essentials. Coniston, 4 miles north, is a pretty Lakeland town with a fine church, a variety of shops, post office (in the petrol station), tourist information centre and a number of pubs. The Steam Yacht Gondola and Coniston Launch both operate from here, providing a good way to see the lake. The John Ruskin museum is well worth a visit, as is Ruskin's house, Brantwood, just across the lake, which has beautiful gardens and a great restaurant.

Sunny Bank Chapel, Sunny Bank Farm, Torver, Coniston, LA21 8BL
Aerial view of Sunny Bank
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