High Chapel, United Reform Church. (c) WDLPS, 2023
The present building dates to 1726, however the protestant dissenters had been meeting in private houses and then in one particular place since 1662. The chapel was founded with money provided by Lord Wharton along with other members of the village.
The first minister was Christopher Jackson, who had been the Anglican clergyman at Crosby Garrett during the Commonwealth when parish churches were conducted on Presbyterian lines. However, with the Restoration, churches had to return to the prayer book and the clergy had to accept the 39 articles of Anglican faith. Jackson therefore came to Ravenstonedale to preach to the ‘dissenters’, those who believed in the freedom of worship. His first ‘church’ was in his own house and those of like feeling.
During the reigns of Charles II and James II, dissenters were persecuted and it is possible that those in Ravenstonedale were protected by Lord Wharton’s patronage. In 1689 the Act of Tolerance gave dissenters freedom of worship and as a result Ravenstonedale got its first licensed meeting house in George Parkin’s house.
High Chapel was originally Presbyterian, it then became Independent (Congregationalist) and latterly United Reformed.
The chapel is constructed from slobbered rubble, with a graduated slate roof. There have been later additions and alterations. This includes new windows inserted in c.1868 – three tall semi-circular headed windows, along with a similar shortened window above the ground floor door. Previously, there was a double row of smaller windows. There were also two doors on the east side opening directly into the chapel. These were block between 1887 and 1907 and a new doorway was made that opened into a vestibule. This part of the church had been added in the early 19th century, when a Sunday School was added, with a schoolroom (and library) on the ground floor and living space above. Now, the door to the ground floor is a 20th century plank door in a segment-headed doorcase. There are external steps up to the first storey gallery, with another 20th century plank door, and remains of an inscription on the lintel.
The roof also has stone copings and kneelers at either end, along with a bellcote at the south end (this was erected in 1813 and moved to its current position at a later date) and a finial on the north.
Internally, there were originally box pews, a three-tiered pulpit, and a gallery which ran around three sides of the building, but these were removed in 1868 (when the windows were also altered).
The Chapel closed in 2006.
Historic England, https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1145371
Chris Irwin, https://www.ravenstonedale.org/churches/high-history.html