Lady Huntingdon's Chapel

Tony Aldous traces the history of the Octagon Chapel in Bath.

The reputation of Bath in the mid-eighteenth century is that of a glitteringly fashionable spa. But not everyone saw it thus. To some, of more serious and religious bent, it was a cesspit of vice, corruption and degradation. The 'Enthusiastics', later known as Methodists, were not impressed by the style and atmosphere of the Octagon Chapel in Milsom Street, with its private 'boxes', each with fireplace, individual pews bookable at 6s. and 10s. a season, and attendance in order to see and be seen at a fashionable venue.

To their rescue came the wealthy and devout Selina, Countness of Huntingdon, friend and patron of George Whitefield and the Wesleys. In 1765, in an area then known as The Vineyards, she built a chapel for the more seriously religious – like the Octagon, still Anglican, but because the building included a dwelling house, technically a private chapel beyond the jurisdiction of church authorities who might have vetoed the preaching of a Wesley or Whitefield.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.