The 17th century saw rapid expansion of the Church of England in the West Riding of Yorkshire.  In 1652 the will of Richard Spoone provided for the maintenance of a “preaching minister” at Stannington.  There was no provision for premises but it seems that a barn was converted for the purpose of holding services but does not appear to have been consecrated, as baptisms and marriages continued to be performed at Bradfield.

The early years were beset by controversy. In May 1662, the Act of Uniformity was passed and received the royal assent. It provided that worship everywhere must be conducted by the clergy strictly in accordance with the newly issued Book of Common Prayer, and the public declaration by every minister of “unfeigned assent and consent” to its contents, while episcopal ordination was also made compulsory. This was not forthcoming from the minister at Stannington and is unclear whether he had his licence withdrawn or if he resigned.  Across England nearly two thousand ministers found themselves ejected from their churches on their refusal to conform.   Three years later a further vindictive measure was passed in order to lessen the opportunities of the ejected ministers continuing to influence their late supporters. The Five Mile Act forbade them to live in, or even temporarily visit, any city or town in which they had held a clerical office or conducted nonconformist services. Until the Act of Toleration was passed in 1689 Stannington had several ministers and interregnums.   George Crossland is recorded as having been presented at the Archdeacon’s visitation for preaching without a licence.

Stannington Chapel was formed as a chapel of ease to St Nicholas Bradfield, which itself had become independent of St Mary’s Ecclesfield in 1650.   In 1699 the York lists record a Curate of Stannington but after that unnamed ministers appear. In 1743 the final break with the Anglicans came with the building of the new chapel at Underbank.
Helen Joesbury