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Bennet Tombstone, Chinley 'New' Chapel, off Hayfield Road, Chapel Milton, Chapel-en-le-Frith, c 1980
D D Brumhead
Brumhead, D D
off Hayfield Road (A624)
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The inscription reads "In memory of the Reverend John Bennet of Lee End who departed this life May 24th 1759 in the 45th year of his age. Also of his relict Mrs Grace Bennet who survived him 44 years and died in the lord February 23rd 1803 in the 89th year of her age". Information from www.cressbrook.co.uk: The Uniformity Act of 1662 compelled all clergy to give their consent to the liturgy of the Church of England and outlawed all other forms of religious worship. Clergy who were unable to agree to the rites of the Church of England were deprived of their parishes and forbidden to preach. Later Acts of Parliament forbade any religious gathering within 5 miles of a parish church and placed a limit on the number of people who could worship in private without using the Book of Common Prayer. About 2000 ministers left the church about this time, including William Bagshawe, the vicar of Glossop and owner of Ford Hall near Chapel-en-le-Frith. Bagshawe was a famous local Nonconformist who held private services for many years at Ford Hall and later preached among many of the local villages. He was known as the 'Apostle of the Peak'. The Act of Toleration in 1689 finally allowed Nonconformists to worship without persecution although bars to public office remained. Bagshawe and his friends converted a barn and held services there until Bagshawe's death in 1702. A dispute over the barn led to Bagshawe's successor, Dr James Clegg, to search for a more suitable place to worship, and in 1711 the 'New' Chapel was erected at a place now known as Chapel Milton. The chapel is overshadowed externally by the enormous columns of the Midland Railway viaduct, but is a beautiful early 18th century building. The interior is simple and stark, in typical early Geogian style. One of the notable features is the gravestone of Grace Murray, a local woman who is said to be the only woman John Wesley ever loved. Though Wesley paid many visits to Chinley and often visited Grace and preached at the New Chapel, he never proposed to her and she eventually married one of his associates, a local preacher called John Bennet. The Chapel lies just off the A624 Chapel-en-le-Frith to Glossop road, at Chapel Milton. It is just below the railway viaduct - coming from Chapel there is a sharp right turn immediately after the viaduct.