Plans to turn historic abandoned Whitehaven church into luxury home

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The former Wesleyan Methodist Church in Whitehaven. Photo: Google Streetview

A historic building in Whitehaven is about to be transformed into a luxury home.

The old Wesleyan Methodist Church downtown has been vacant since 1996.

Located at the crossroads of Lowther Street and Scotch Street, the impressive Gothic-style building dates from the 1800s and is Grade II listed.

Nick Browne has applied to Copeland Council for permission to convert the building, which is within the Whitehaven Conservation Area.

The church, which could seat 800 people, cost £5,285 to build and the Methodist Church and Sunday School paid £3,250 for the land – mostly paid for through donations. It was designed by T Lewis Banks.

It was listed in December 1978, when it had just celebrated its centenary and was still a vibrant place of worship, according to a heritage statement submitted to council.

However, by 1995 the congregation had dwindled and the condition of the church was beginning to deteriorate and needed £50,000 for urgent work and £104,000 for less urgent work. The decision was made to close it.

The statement added: “In the 27 years since its closure, the building has fallen into very poor condition. In 1995, the investigator declared that “there are a certain number of areas which have not been examined”, either because they are inaccessible, or dangerous, or dangerous to health”.

He noted that the building has 19 distinct roofs. He added: “Since the closure of the church and the removal of seats, organ and other furnishings, the interior has lost much of its significance as a spiritual space. What remains is the high open space of the first floor with its impressive framework and the two main windows at each end of the nave.

“In particular, the 1928 stained glass windows inside the apse are still in good condition and should be conserved and treated with care in any future project. This
was a very important building by a nationally known Cumbrian architect. He should have been treated as such. The damage that was caused did not destroy all of its importance as a church and historic building. What has survived deserves to be protected and preserved.

The proposal is to use the fabric of the church and “not to damage anything significant”. The application would consist of inserting partitions to divide the space, which could be removed later.

The request relates only to the church building, as the Sunday school and elementary school buildings are owned by separate owners. The report adds: “The conference hall, vestries, kitchen and caretaker’s apartment are in such poor condition that it was not possible to examine this entire part of the building. The sacristy and the kitchen are abandoned and the roof has collapsed in places.

“There is no doubt that this is a building at risk. It is a valid proposal and given the previous alterations and its current state, the works are considered to be a modest intervention, involving minimal interference with the character of the building which still retains its original features and retains its spiritual, architectural and historical significance.

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