About this church
According to Pevsner, an excellent early chapel of 1804, which was the centre of worship in the village for over 200 years. It is notably associated with Thomas Blossom (a pioneer of the Sunday School movement and later a missionary in Polynesia) and Sir James Reckitt, the eminent industrialist and philanthropist.
Nowadays the village of Swanland would not be regarded as a focus of dissent, but it has been a prominent centre for nonconformism for over three centuries. Christ Church (as it is now known) is a Georgian Independent Chapel which later became Congregational and then, in 1972, part of the United Reformed Church. In 1981 its designation changed yet again when it became a joint United Reformed and Methodist Church following a merger with the local Primitive Methodists.
The building is Grade II listed and overlooks the pond in the village centre. According to Pevsner, it is an excellent early chapel of 1804, in grey brick with a hipped slate roof, built on the site of an earlier chapel of 1693. There are five bays with arched windows in two tiers, the middle ones Venetian.
The two doors are enclosed by porches added in 1840. On either side are gabled wings of 1854 with large pointed windows. The interior retains the original gallery to three sides and has a pulpit set in a small apse of 1928. The unstained Austrian oak pews also date from 1928.
From the earlier chapel of 1693 until 1899, when an Anglican mission hall was built in Swanland, Christ Church was the centre of worship for the village and the surrounding area. In 1876 a village school was built but, in the previous 150 years, the chapel exercised that function too.
Thomas Blossom, a missionary with the London Missionary Society, was born in Swanland in 1777 and attended the school. He was actively involved in the chapel and in starting the first Sunday School in the East Riding.
Sir James Reckitt was one of the founders of the household products company Reckitt and Sons. He lived in Swanland and, although a Quaker, attended Christ Church in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. A great benefactor both to the village and the church, he paid for the construction of The Institute on church land.
Revd John Patton, Minister from 1929 to 1946, wrote an illuminating history of the church entitled ‘A Country Independent Chapel’.