Nuptials mark chapel reopening

The wedding of Claire Cook and Lee Pearce at St John's Chapel on Bondgate in Ripon. (S)
The wedding of Claire Cook and Lee Pearce at St John's Chapel on Bondgate in Ripon. (S)

Building and redecoration work at a Ripon church were finished just in the nick of time to allow a couple to marry.

Claire Cook and Lee Pearce were married at St John’s Chapel on Bondgate just 24 hours after the works were completed.

The wedding day marked the return of the chapel to community use after being closed for eight months while the refurbishment took place.

Intensive effort by contractors in the previous week, plus last minute cleaning and preparation by the congregation,ensured that the wedding went ahead as planned.

Rev John Rutter, minister at St John’s, is keen to see greater community use of the building. He said: “The chapel has become more important to the people of Bondgate for special services but we would love to see it being used by community groups at other times.

“Redevelopment will make this possible. Between 2008-14 the chapel held 161 funerals, 123 baptisms and 22 weddings. St John’s has been called ‘The Funeral Church’ but much more happens there and our intention is to create a building where a wide variety of activities can take place.”

The chapel has now been completely redeveloped to make it more accessible, more comfortable and able to be used throughout the week.

The first Sunday service in the chapel since September was held on Sunday, May 31.

During the redevelopment services were held at Lister House Chapel.Members of the St John’s congregation have thanked the hospitality of the British Legion management.

As for special occasions such as weddings, baptisms and funerals, these were relocated to alternative churches including St John’s in Sharow, Holy Trinity Church in Ripon and Ripon Cathedral.

A weekend of celebration is planned for Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7, to mark the re-opening of the chapel.

On Saturday, an open day is being held when members of the community can call in and see the transformation. There will be displays and refreshments from 11am-3pm.

On Sunday at 10.45am, the Bishop of Ripon and the Dean of Ripon Cathedral will lead a service of celebration to give thanks for all those who supported the scheme and to pray for the chapel’s future, in particular its potential new role as a centre of community activity in Bondgate. Organisers say all are welcome to both occasions.