The picture shows the congregation who toiled up the hill above Low Row in Swaledale on the first Friday in May, to commemorate once again their own chapel’s origins, and the history of dissent in the Dale and the wider region. The short act of worship was led by synod moderator Revd David Herbert, after which the evening concluded with refreshments back in the valley in the Low Row Chapel.
Smarber Chapel was formerly a shooting lodge belonging to Philip, Lord Wharton. A Puritan and Parliamentarian during the English Civil War, he frequently ran into trouble with the King after the Restoration. In 1690 he converted part of the lodge as an Independent Chapel for Protestant Dissenters.
In his will he left land to fund the giving of Bibles to children who learnt certain passages by rote. The Lord Wharton Bibles charity continues that work today.
A new Chapel (the present Low Row United Reformed Church) was built in 1809. At first Presbyterian, this Chapel became Congregationalist in 1867, and United Reformed at the Union of the Congregational Church of England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church in England in 1972 to form the United Reformed Church.