‘O little town of Rotherham
How still we see thee lie
Yet on the bridge over the Don
A Chapel do we pass by
Amidst the dark and starry sky, the Chapel of Our Lady stands proudly on Rotherham Bridge; a beacon of our town’s heritage but of which the history of remains hidden in the lair of its crypt.
To raise funds for its upkeep, as well as awareness of its past and present use, local artist Leslie Black has produced a special Christmas card featuring this iconic building.
“The roof is leaking and I have a standing joke that the Chapel is deteriorating faster than I am,” says Les.
But it’s a fair few years older than Les’ 87 years.
The Chapel on the Bridge has stood in the same spot over the River Don for over 500 years, having first been built in 1483 at the bequest of local teacher, John Bokying, who left 3s 4d in his Will for the materials from which to build it.
At the dissolution of colleges and chantries, the Chapel closed for worship in 1547 and subsequently became an almshouse, town jail and even a newsagent before being reverted back to its ecclesiastical purpose in the 1920s following a petition from 1,000 locals.
Today, it is one of three surviving structures of its kind and Les is keen to help preserve it for 500 years more. He is following suit of Bokying by leaving a donation in his own Will for any future restoration as his legacy.
But before then, Les is working with the Friends of Chapel on the Bridge to sell his self-funded Christmas card which features a picturesque painting of the Chapel in the snow.
Les, from Wickersley, is an acclaimed heritage painter and has produced over 3,000 original pieces since becoming a semi-professional artist in the early ‘60s.
His latest offering is the most recent of a long line of commissions from the likes of British Steel, the NHS, NatWest Bank and Aesseal.
Les has self-funded the production of 3,000 cards which are available to buy from Rotherham Visitor Centre on High Street for £1 each.
All money raised will go towards the restoration of the Chapel.