Belper Unitarians have a variety of interesting activities in addition to our regular services.
There are social activities and open days (see below), and we have two established ongoing groups. In all cases the groups are open and newcomers are welcome to join at any time:
Beginners and more advanced players welcome. 7-8.30 pm alternate Tuesdays as advertised (See Belper Ukulele Group Facebook Page)
Chapel Open Days and Coffee Mornings
Come and look around our historic chapel. INCLUDING: visit the catacomb where members of the famous Strutt family were interred. These will occur as advertised on open days or special occasions.
The Chapel’s chosen charity for 2023-24 is ‘Send a Child to Hucklow’ who fund children from the local area spending a week’s holiday in our residential venue in the Peak District, and proceeds from our coffee mornings and Harvest Festivals will typically be going to this very deserving cause.
We have held various social activities for the congregation e.g. Christmas party, trips to other congregations, days out etc . Also occasional poetry readings and speakers on literature and local history have occurred in the past, together with music concerts and lectures.
Past charities have also been supported by us: The Padley Centre, Derby and The Drop Inn Youth Centre, Belper. Entertainment fundraisers featured Pete Castle, Chris Preston, Sue MacFarlane and Joe Smith. Also Belper Musical Theatre performed “Songs from the Shows” in the chapel in past years. More recently we have had an evening of Renaissance singing performed by the West Gallery Quire who sang songs from a recently discovered old songbook unearthed in this very chapel.
Because of its history and connection to the Strutt family the chapel is an intrinsic part of Belper’s vibrant local heritage scene, now enhanced by being part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, and consequently hosts a number of heritage related events and activities. In past years too, the chapel has played a role as a host in the Belper Arts Festival Trail where artists and craftspeople of various disciplines have exhibited and sold their work.
The work of the Derbyshire writer Leslie Crichton Porteous is of interest to some members and we hosted a lecture about his life and writings.
Belper Unitarian Chapel is, after much struggle and work on behalf of many people, an official part of Beth’s Poetry Trail. The trail was established as a permanent memorial to Beth Fender who both loved poetry and was a founder of the two Poetry groups in Belper. The Plaque, affixed to the boundary railings, displays a poem ‘To Nature’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge who had many Unitarian links.
The Plaque was dedicated following the service on Nov 16th 2008.
East Midlands Unitarians (EMU)
Belper is a member of the East Midlands district (along with other neighbouring congregations such as Mansfield, Boston, Hinckley and Leicester). We participate in, and sometimes host, district events and meetings, including quarterly meetings (which sometimes include guest speakers or workshops) and the annual district service. EMU also organises an annual weekend, normally in June, at the Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow, Derbyshire.
We have been lucky enough to host the EMU Annual Service at Belper, completely filling the chapel, and a very enjoyable afternoon/evening (not least the tea!) was had by all. Long live Unitarianism in the East Midlands!
Belper Unitarian Chapel, Field Row, just off Green Lane, Belper, DE56 1DG