Residents’ fury at plans to demolish Petworth chapel

Falling down - The delapidated chapel in the Petworth cemetery Picture by Louise Adams C131088-1
Falling down - The delapidated chapel in the Petworth cemetery Picture by Louise Adams C131088-1

THERE has been a public outburst at plans to demolish the chapel in the Horsham Road Cemetery, Petworth.

This follows an Observer article in which we looked at the history of the chapel and sought to find out more about its ownership.

Though nothing has been finalised, Petworth Town Council brought the disused chapel into discussion at their last meeting, held in July.

Councillors put forward the proposal to demolish it, fearing it may pose a dangerous risk to those visiting the cemetery.

Some people argue that demolishing the chapel would be a desecration of the graves which mark the resting place of the 28 boys and teachers killed by enemy bombing in the second world war.

No authorities have claimed ownership, nor responsibility of the building, though the council says they have an “interest” in the boys’ graves, and thus, the cemetery.

This debate has sparked a reaction from people in Petworth.

One of the main forerunners is John Bird, owner of John Bird antiques and Chairman of the Petworth Antique and Decorative Arts Association.

Using Twitter, Mr Bird said it would be “A tragedy if we lose this delightful chapel.” He added: “Shame on the town council to neglect it for so long and now want to demolish the chapel.”

He has used Twitter to urge people to save the chapel, using the hashtag #UrgentSavePetworthChapel.

Others have come forward to strongly oppose the proposal, including one Twitter user,

@selfseeding, who said: “How to stop Horsham Road Cemetery Chapel being demolished? Can’t believe it’s even being considered. Such a special place.”

@Floral Fringe added: “This is an oasis in Petworth. Needs a safe crossing point then it could be used?”

Mr Christopher Till wrote in to the Observer to make his views heard.

He said: “If the chapel was to be pulled down it would be an insult to the lads buried there. It should be restored as a shrine to them.

“It only wants local builders to restore it with some lottery money.

“They could build a little carpark at the bottom of the cemetery so that people could pray in the chapel.

“I know if they got planning permission to build on the land, people would be coming out of the woodwork to own it.”

The debate continues to rage about the owner, and the future, of the chapel.