Newark Bede House Chapel


Brass of William
Phillipot at
Newark St Mary

In his will dated 18 March 1556, William Phillipot, a merchant of Newark-on-Trent, left to his wife a number of properties and lands in the town yielding yearly rents of £11 14s. His will also stipulated that after his wife's death the lands and properties were to be transferred to the town and an alderman and twelve assistants would adminster the charity and ensure the maintenance of a house and chapel he had recently erected on Coddington Lane (now called Bedehouse Lane).

According to the will the house and chapel were

'For the continual ease, finding and lodging of five poor men, to be therein lodged, found, and eased from time to time and from age to age for ever, to the intent that such five poor men, for their times being, should continually for ever pray for the good and prosperous estate of the king and queen’s majesties, and of the heirs and successors of the queen, for the prosperity, tranquility, and peace of this realm of England, and for the souls of King Henry the Eighth and King Edward the Sixth, and of the queen, after her departure out of this transitory life, for his soul, his wife's soul, and all Christian souls; which his purpose, as he assuredly trusted it did stand with the pleasure of Almighty God, so minding to have the same es­tablished and provided to have continuance for ever...'

The will also stated that the 'five poor men, should daily within the chapel of the said almshouse, devoutly kneeling, say together with audible voices three paternosters, three ave Maries, and one creed, in honour of the holy and most blessed Trinity, and after that, certain other prayers.'

In 1738 the almshouse was enlarged in order to accomodate fifteen poor persons, five of which were to be poor women.

The almshouses were again enlarged in 1783 to accomodate 20 men and women and in 1822 four more places for women were added.

The Charity Commissioners' Report of 1829 provides a description of the site:

'[the houses] form together one building of two storeys, occupying three sides of a quadrangle; and there is a small garden for the common use of the inmates.'

The report also mentions that one man acted as reader in the chapel and received 1s. per week extra and one woman received 1s. per quarter for cleaning the chapel. The reader was expected to read the prayers in the chapel to the other inmates every day except Sundays and Saints' day when they were expected to attend the parish church.

The return to the 1851 Religious Census, submitted by the vicar of Newark, states that 'There are daily prayers every morning during the week at the Bede House Chapel at which the whole of the Alms people attend, if not prevented by illness or infirmity.' The average congregation over the previous three months had been 24 people.

By 1959 there was only one resident of the almshouses and the decision was taken to close it. The almshouses were demolished in the early 1960s and replaced by modern accomodation. The chapel survived and was for many years was used as an office by a local voluntary organisation.

The Odinist Fellowship bought the chapel and after restoration work costing £15,000 the Newark Odinist Temple was consecrated on Midsummer's Day, 2014.