Chapel of Our Lady on Rotherham Bridge

Welcome to the best of only four surviving medieval bridge chapels in the country, it has enjoyed a long and chequered history, and is truly a hidden gem right in the heart of Rotherham.

About this church

The chapel was built in 1483, part of a new bridge across the river. It is possible that Thomas Rotherham, Archbishop of York, donated most of the money needed for building. The chapel was richly decorated and contained a statue of the Virgin and Child ‘of gold, welwrought’.

The chapel was used by travellers, who used it to pray for a safe journey, or to give thanks for a safe arrival in Rotherham. The Act for the Dissolution of Colleges and Chantries in 1547 closed the Chapel. It was given to the Feoffees of the Common Lands of Rotherham, Rotherham’s first town council, who used it as an almshouse.

One of the most famous stories about the chapel concerns the visit of Mary Queen of Scots to Rotherham in January, 1569. For many years a prisoner of Elizabeth I, Mary’s captivity became entangled with the time, many years later, when the chapel served as the town gaol. Legend suggests that she was imprisoned here, but the evidence tells us that she was held at a house on the corner of High Street and Wellgate.

During the English Civil War, Rotherham was a Parliamentarian town. On the 4th May 1643 there was a battle on the bridge - small round dents in the chapel walls show where the Royalist musket balls hit the chapel.

In 1778 work began on converting the almshouse to a prison. The Deputy Constable lived upstairs, whilst the crypt became the jail. When a new courthouse and jail opened in 1826 the chapel was rented as a dwelling. In 1888 the Chapel opened as a tobacconist and newsagents. The business continued undisturbed until 1901, when a petition signed Rotherham residents was presented to the Feoffees, urging them to restore the Chapel. The tobacconist's was bought in 1913 by Sir Charles Stoddart, and closed down. He died before the restoration was completed. The vicar and churchwardens of All Saints’ undertook to finish the repairs and restoration.

The chapel was completed in 1924. Further work was carried out in 1975, when the fine stained glass east window was added.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • Steps to enter the church or churchyard
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Café within 500m
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

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