This summer the Congregation celebrated 350 years since the Quakers built Monks Chapel. Its situation was such that it was outside a radius of five miles from the borough of Chippenham, to conform to the ‘ Five Mile Act ‘ passed by Parliament in that same year 1662. It was one of laws, that sought to enforce conformity to the established Church of England and to expel any who did not conform. It forbade clergymen from living within five miles of a parish from which they had been expelled, unless they swore an oath never to resist the king or attempt to alter the government of Church or State. The Chapel and its cemetery is called Monks because the ground on which it is built was given by a Mr. Monk who lived in a farmhouse nearby.
In 1690, after the Quakers had used the chapel for some years, they sold it to the Independents and in that year the gallery was added. Between 1972-80 the Chapel was renovated but retained most of its original features so that none of the old world charm has been lost.
The 350th Anniversary was celebrated this June with a 4 day flower festival and a service on Sunday 24th led by Revd. David Grosch-Miller, the United Reformed South Western Synod Moderator. The chapel collaborated with the church of St. John the Baptist, Gastard who also celebrated their 100 years centenary with a flower festival and both congregations served teas to visitors at Monks Chapel.
On 26th August a birch tree was planted in Monks Chapel cemetery to celebrate 350 years of continuous worship, although the exact dates are unknown as all the Chapel’s records were stored in Spackman’s grocery store and were unfortunately lost in the fire in 1849.