Our A-Z of Protestant Nonconformity began as an online project. Volunteers, some of whom would find it difficult to take part in a face-to-face research project in Leicestershire, due to distance, lack of transport or disability, collected information from trade directories and the 1851 religious census about the many Nonconformist chapels in Leicestershire’s villages during the 19th century.

The Independent Chapel at Bardon

The project later expanded to include a wider range of information about some of these chapels. Volunteers looked at a range of documentary sources, such as 17th and 18th-century licences to build a chapel held at the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland. Others visited the villages and took photographs. Capturing images of these buildings as they are today will provide a record for the future, as many have closed as places of worship, and some are at risk of demolition. They are an important part of the histories of our communities.

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Figure 3: The darbar sahib (prayer hall) at Guru Amar Das Gurdwara, formerly a Baptist church. © Clare Canning 2016
Figure 3: The darbar sahib (prayer hall) at Guru Amar Das Gurdwara, formerly a Baptist church. © Clare Canning 2016

Leicestershire is home to people of many different faiths, and none.

Dr Clare Canning, who has studied the architectural history of Leicester’s Sikh Gurdwaras kindly agreed to write a piece for us on that topic.

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Leicestershire has many fine medieval churches. As the oldest building within a town or village, if their walls could talk they could certainly tell a few tales. And to some extent they can – as it is possible to learn to interpret what they are saying.

Our parish churches have been community as well as religious buildings since they were first built, and both the building and the interior fittings will have been altered in some way by almost every generation, reflecting changes in religious practices and the changing secular needs of the communities they serve. Unravelling these layers can reveal long-forgotten aspects of community history.

Our research guides can help you explore the history of your local parish church. These will tell you what to look for in the building, what documents might be available to tell you more about its history, and where to find them. 

The Medieval Church

The Anglican Church

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