An historic Kendal church is set to be officially opened by the Lord-Lieutenant of Cumbria after a major renovation project was completed.

Kendal Unitarian Chapel on Branthwaite Brow has been a place of multi-faith worship since 1720, and is hosting a series of events on the weekend of Friday, June 10, until Monday, June 13 to celebrate its tricentennial, after initial plans for the celebration were scuppered for 2 years by Covid.

The flagship event of the weekend will be the grand opening of the new Multi-Faith Garden of Remembrance on Saturday, June 11, and John Campbell, treasurer, historian, and custodian of the Chapel, said the new garden is indicative of the unique nature of the church:

"Everything here is open to the public, in a way that no other church or chapel is.

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"The space where the new garden is was so overgrown, it was a bit of a scrow, and the wall between us and the Masons Arms was really being held together by ivy, so we decided that we would redevelop and redesign it, which took us about 5 years from start to finish.

"We found bits of a gravestone cast aside here, and found enough of it to put it together, and a bronze plaque that corrects the stone.

"The stones on the wall were all part of tombs from the front, taken down in 1946.

"It was supposed to be finished in 2020, as part of our tricentennial, but a virus intervened.

The Westmorland Gazette: UNDERWAY: Extensive renovation workUNDERWAY: Extensive renovation work

"We had the chalice done as a centrepiece by Kendal sculptor Danny Clahane - the chalice is the Unitarian symbol, and people can have their ashes buried here, come here for whatever reason they choose.

"On the Saturday we will have music all day long, recorders and piano in the morning, and when Claire Hensman (Lord-Lieutenant) arrives at 2pm, I will bring her down into the chapel, where the organist will be playing, we will have six harpists playing in the schoolroom, and taiko drummers playing outside.

"The Lord-Lieutenant will make a speech and officially declare it open.

"It won't be dedicated to anybody or anything in particular, as we are open to all.

The Westmorland Gazette: ARCHWAY: The entrance to the gardenARCHWAY: The entrance to the garden

"As Unitarians, we have no creed, we don't require people, and never have, from 1720, required any kind of doctrine, all members are free to believe what we you will.

"We have everything from Atheists to Pagans, Sikhs, Muslims, Jews, and people who simply want no label at all.

"We are still a very close, strong community, and the basis of that is freedom."

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