• The chapel was designed by Joseph Hansom, inventor of the horse-drawn cab.
  • Locally it was referred to as the “pork pie chapel” because of its circular pie-shaped appearance
  • Thomas Cook was a prominent local Baptist

The “Pork Pie Chapel”

Joseph Hansom and the “Pork Pie Chapel”

Affectionately known as the “Pork Pie Chapel”, Belvoir Street Chapel was designed by Joseph Hansom, inventor of the horse–drawn cab. Built in 1845 to accommodate a growing Baptist congregation, it was designed for up to 1,500 people and included lecture and schoolrooms. Its circular interior was lit by gas, presenting a “brilliant appearance”.

Special trains brought people to its inauguration in 1845 and the guest speaker, Dr Harris, remarked that “he never saw a chapel so beautiful; never met with one so easy to speak in; nor one in which the congregation presented so beautiful a prospect as this did, from its architectural arrangements”.

Why is it important to the story of Leicester?

Non-conformists were Christians who refused to “conform” to the Church of England and so set up their own churches. They held considerable political and economic power in Victorian Leicester. Baptists were a particularly large and influential group and included businessmen like Thomas Cook, prominent manufacturers and civic dignitaries.

Hansom Hall

By the 1940s the congregation had united with the Baptists of Charles Street Chapel and in 1947 the building was sold. Today it forms part of Leicester Adult Education College and is referred to as Hansom Hall, after its architect.

Gallery

Roman Leicester

(47- 500) A military fort was erected, attracting traders and a growing civilian community to Leicester (known as Ratae Corieltauvorum to the Romans). The town steadily grew throughout the reign of the Romans.

Medieval Leicester

(500 – 1500) The early years of this period was one of unrest with Saxon, Danes and Norman invaders having their influences over the town. Later, of course, came Richard III and the final battle of the Wars of the Roses was fought on Leicester’s doorstep.

Tudor & Stuart Leicester

(1500 – 1700) The wool trade flourished in Leicester with one local, a former mayor named William Wigston, making his fortune. During the English Civil War a bloody battle was fought as the forces of King Charles I laid siege to the town.

Georgian Leicester

(1700 – 1837) The knitting industry had really stared to take hold and Leicester was fast becoming the main centre of hosiery manufacture in Britain. This new prosperity was reflected throughout the town with broader, paved streets lined with elegant brick buildings and genteel residences.

Edwardian Leicester

(1901 – 1910) Electric trams came to the streets of Leicester and increased literacy among the citizens led to many becoming politicised. The famous 1905 ‘March of the Unemployed to London’ left from Leicester market when 30,000 people came to witness the historic event.

Early 20th Century Leicester

(1910 – 1973) The diverse industrial base meant Leicester was able to cope with the economic challenges of the 1920s and 1930s. New light engineering businesses, such as typewriter and scientific instrument making, complemented the more traditional industries of hosiery and footwear manufacturing.

Modern Leicester

(1973 – present day) Industry was still thriving in the city during the 1970s, with the work opportunities attracting many immigrants from all over the world. While industry has declined in recent years, excellent transport links have made Leicester an attractive centre for many businesses. The City now has much to be proud of including its sporting achievements and the richness of its cultural heritage and diversity.

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