The Victoria Institute - Tebay

In the late 1800's Sedbergh school left the church and established a chapel of its own. As the School continued to increase, the old chapel became too small, and the wooden one was built. It was, however, soon evident that the days of the wooden chapel were numbered. In November, 1893, occurred the historic storm which nearly carried the edifice bodily away, and inflicted such damage on the organ that it was silent for six months. The wooden chapel was built at a time when it was impossible to raise funds for a stone structure. When the catastrophe of the storm hit that November 1893 it blew out the west end of the little wooden chapel and as people stood inside they could see the green fields beyond. To some extent the worst of the damage was repaired and security was restored by means of props. They went on for a year or two but felt that the chapel must come down as it was unsightly and not in keeping with the other school buildings. The masters felt that they really ought to make a change, that it was a disgrace which ought to be the finest and the best should be the shabbiest and the poorest. Therefore with subscriptions the new stone chapel was built.

(Extract from Sedbergh School and its Chapel published 1897)

Sedbergh Chapel built 1890
This is from an old postcard dated 1892

The following have been copied out from the information in the Governors minutes

October 1889

Mr Paley [of Paley and Austin Architects] submitted plans and drawings of a proposed new temporary chapel, which he had designed for the accommodation of 275 worshippers, allowing a width to each of 20 inches. He estimated the cost, on the basis of the existing contracts, at about £900, exclusive of bell and organ.

Resolved –

That a committee be appointed to confer with the Head Master and the Architect with power to act in regard to the building of a School Chapel, on the understanding that the Governors are committed to no expenditure on the structure and its furniture beyond that grant if £439 9s. 10d. already approved.

January 1890

The school chapel committee reported that the architects had obtained tenders for the required work. The committee recommended that the tender of Messrs. Hatch and So, Lancaster for £826 be accepted.

Resolved –

That the tender for the Chapel be accepted, a Bell Turret being added to the structure, in accordance with the wish of Mr. Hart, the precise position of the building to be left in the hands of the Chapel Committee: this resolution to be subject to revision and change of the Contractor should the Chairman and vice-chairman deem such revision desirable.

 January 1898

The Clerk reported that Mr. Baxter had definitely declined to make any offer for the disused wooden Chapel, and that an advertisement had been inserted in several newspapers inviting tenders for the structure and fittings, but only one answer has been received; an offer of £100 by the agent of Canon Wateron, of Carlisle.

Resolved –

That  the advertisement be inserted again twice successively in the newspapers circulating in large centres, and that Canon Waterton’s Agent be informed that the Governors were unable to accept his offer.

 March 1898

The Clerk reported that he had re-advertised the disused wooden Chapel for sale as directed at last meeting, but no further offers had been received.

The question of disposal of the structure was adjourned till next meeting. Meanwhile the Chairman and Vice-Chairman were authorised to accept any sum they might think desirable.

 July 1898

Adverting to the question of the disposal of the wooden chapel, it was moved by Mr. Handley, seconded by the Vice- chairman, and

Resolved –

That Canon Waterton’s offer of £100 for the wooden chapel, if still open be accepted.

October 1898

An offer of Seventy-five pounds for the old wooden Chapel having been made by the Vicar of Tebay, the Reverend Alfred E. Palin.

It was resolved –

That Mr. Palin’s offer be accepted on the terms on which the building is for sale – i.e that it be paid for and removed forthwith, that the purchaser be at the cost of removal, and that he clear away all rubbish from the site and make level the soil on which the structure now stands.

 January 1899

A letter from the Rev. A. E. Palin, expressing the hope that he might soon be in a position to comply with the terms on which the Governors at the October Meeting expressed their willingness to accept his offer of £75 for the old wooden Chapel, having been read,

It was moved by Mr. Burra, seconded by Dr. Paget-Tomlinson, and

Resolved –

That inasmuch as Mr. Palin did not comply with the terms on which the Governors were prepared to accept his offer of £75, he be informed that in the opinion of the Governors there is no valid Contract subsisting between them, also

The he be informed further that if an undertaking can be given to remove the Building before February 28th, the Governors are still prepared to accept the £75, Mr. Palin to be at the cost of removal and of clearing away all rubbish, and making level the soil on which the structure now stands, and to pay the Purchase-money before removal.

March 1899

[The Clerk] also reported that he had received that morning the following letter from the Vicar of Tebay, in reference to the contract for the sale and purchase of the old chapel: -


Tebay Vicarage,

March 22nd, 1899

Dear Sir

Old Wooden Chapel

I have accepted contract for removal of this building, and the work will be begun at latest on Monday next.

I will send you cheque fort £75 in the course of a day or two.

Yours Faithfully

Alfred E. Palin

 August 1899

[A letter from the headmaster in the governors minutes included the following statement]

‘…the removal of the wooden Chapel, have been very generally approved.’

(Our thanks to Sedberg School for this information)

The history of this building then continued in Tebay.

Sedbergh Chapel being dismantled to take to Tebay

The old chapel was dismantled at Sedbergh and brought to Tebay by train. As with re-building any old building this did not go well. It was decided that the bell  tower would not be re-erected at Tebay as it was not required. Much of the building needed extensive repair, not surprising as it had been badly damaged in the  storm. The North Eastern railway company found that although they agreed that the boiler could be connected to their system when it came to doing the job the  fittings were different and it took several months to be resolved. The lights were another contention. The old lights were oil but it was decided that new gas lights  should be installed and this again was expensive. It was also thought better to clad the outside with stone to make it a more substantial building. This with all the  other work would cost a little over £600.00 which meant they was a shortfall of £400.00. It was a substantial building that was considered necessary and would  hold about 300 people. It contained a large hall which was used for religious and social gatherings. There were also two side rooms which were to be let off to  the Working Mens' Club, who used them as a reading room and billiard room. The whole venture was aimed at the male population of the village.It was  recognised that men got weary working and needed recreation for body and mind and the Victoria Institute was to do this.

Because of the shortfall in funds it was decided to hold a 2 day bazaar to raise funds. The people of Tebay started preparing for this big event. A patchwork quilt  of red and white diamonds was made. On each of the white diamonds four names were worked in red cotton, while the red diamonds bore a single name in white.
 For the honour of having their names on the parish quilt people paid 6d. each for the whites and a shilling for the reds. By the time the quilt was made it had  brought in about £20.00 and at the bazaar it was marked for sale for £2. I wonder who bought it. Before the day money gifts of £35 had been sent. On the day  stalls were arranged round the room which had been decorated by Mr. H Lowis. There were stalls selling needlework made by the Woman's Sewing Class, china, glassware and bric-a-brac. There was a stall of dolls dressed in beautiful costumes which were contributed by the Girls' Sewing Class. Beside these stalls  there was a fish pond, bran tub and various side shows. Produce was also for sale including, fruit, plants, flowers butter and eggs.
The event was opened on the first day by Lady Mabel Howard and on the second day by Lady Henry Bentinck. The whole event raised about £120. One of the  most memorable stalls was that of Mrs Buck by making and selling ice cream which was quite a novelty at Tebay,

 The institute is now remembered by the older members of the community for its dances, whist drives and pictures. Being no longer required for entertainment this building has now been turned into residences.

Being no longer required for entertainment and recreation this building has now been turned into residences.