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Congregational Chapel, Avebury, Wiltshire, England
Avebury Congregational Chapel - now called Avebury Chapel Centre - was founded in 1670, and has been used as a place of worship ever since. Although the Chapel may seem plain in comparison to parish churches, this building has a dignified air about it. It has been built and maintained by hard work and a love of God. Over recent years the structure has given cause for concern (see the history linked above) and has again been through a period of change as necessary work has been carried out. The sheer doggedness of Rev. Bert Jones has kept this Chapel from closing many times. Now that Avebury has become a World Heritage Site it is hoped the future of the Chapel is more secure, but fund raising will probably always be an ongoing project.
Over recent times the use of the building has expanded to include craft fayres, venues for concerts and other attractions. The last round of renovations saw a huge change to the use of the building and it is now open daily to the public as part of the Tourist Information Board organisation.
There are two links above to a history of the Congregational Chapel. The original was written by Hilary Dunscombe and after all the recent changes were made the booklet was updated. In the main body of the text there are a few differences between the two versions, but the updated version has the information about the latest renovations. This second version is no longer entirely written by Hilary, but modified by others. Not knowing which version to use here, we've put both! Our thanks go to Hilary and the group responsible for the updates for allowing their work to be published here. Also our thanks go to the people who have allowed us to use their photographs on these pages - we haven't known the names of some of them, but have mentioned those we do know.
Mandy has fond memories of this Chapel, especially the wonderful teas provided by the ladies of the church after each service. These teas were something to look forward to - delicious home made cakes, scones, tea bread - all served in the School Room.
Mandy was a member of, and at some time ran, a music group called 'Central Sounds' (from Central Church, Swindon). The group went to Avebury every couple of months to participate in the Sunday service led by Bert Jones. One service (a Harvest celebration) stands out above others - the one where nobody else turned up. Or perhaps it should be more fairly called - Mandy and co. turned up a month early!! Earlier in the year Bert invited Mandy and the group to particpate in the Harvest Festival Celebration, saying it was the third Sunday of the month. At Central Church the Harvest Festival took place in September, so Mandy thought Avebury's service was also that month. However, Avebury Chapel celebrates its Harvest in October. So Central Sounds turned up at Avebury in September, set up amplifiers, music stands, tuned guitars, and waited. A short while before the service was due to start nobody else had arrived, and a hasty phone call to Bert revealed the error. Fortunately the rest of the group found Mandy's mistake amusing, and stayed for an unscheduled session - and a very enjoyable time they had too!