Our work at Keld Chapel
Keld Chapel is a gem of history on the edge of the Lake District National Park, linked to one of the early supporters of the National Trust. We're fundraising to safeguard its future.
A local treasure
A small picturesque stone building in the hamlet of Keld, near Shap, Keld Chapel is believed to have been constructed in the 16th century. It has enjoyed a variety of uses over its long history - as well as being used as a home for people and their animals, the building has remained at the heart of the community as a place of meeting, celebration and worship.
Glimpses of the past
While the origins of the building remain a mystery, a survey identified fascinating clues that offer a glimpse into the past. The layout of the building strongly suggests an ecclesiastical use, and the north window is certainly of high status. In fact, the window is very likely to have been salvaged from the ruins of Shap Abbey, which was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540.
The Parish register at Shap records a christening at Keld Chapel on the 16th June 1672. Whilst there is no record of the building being formally consecrated, baptisms, Easter and Christmas services are performed in the chapel to this day.
Sir Samuel Scott and the National Trust
Keld Chapel features as an important chapter in the history of the antiquarian movement in Cumbria, and in the origins of the National Trust. Sir Samuel Scott, a businessman, author and philanthropist, made personal gifts and arranged significant fundraising to enable purchases of property by the National Trust in the Lake District. With the exception of Beatrix Potter, no single benefactor has ever done so much for the preservation of the scenery of Lakeland. Keld Chapel underwent restoration before being presented by Samuel in 1918 to the National Trust.
Safeguarding for the future
Access to the building has been facilitated by local volunteers for decades, and serves as a charming visitor attraction, close to Alfred Wainwright’s popular Coast to Coast route.
The building is currently closed for structural repairs. We carried out essential works to safeguard the building in the summer of 2022, and are looking to secure a budget to complete the structural works in order to restore community use of the building. We're working with a specialist craft stonemason team to re-open this special community space, and to safeguard this precious piece of Lakeland history.
We are actively fundraising to secure the budget needed to repair the south west gable and to replace the roof. If you're interested in supporting this porject, you can find contact details below.