Originally designed and built in the mid-1700s as opulent town houses for the discerning tastes of the wealthy Merchant class, numbers 7, 9 and 11 Chapel Street were amongst the most in demand residences of Georgian Lancaster's 'Golden Age'. Major restoration and conversion in the early 1990s ensured the future of these Grade II Listed Buildings, which are an intrinsic part of Lancaster’s local heritage.
Particularly associated with 11 Chapel Street was W. H. Abbott & Co, one of Lancaster’s three main firms of stained glass artists and manufacturers. Lancaster was renowned for its fine stained glass work and Abbott’s, with offices in London and Lancaster, enjoyed a reputation for quality and artistry throughout Britain and abroad, most notably the Caribbean.
Chapel Street and the Butterfields
In 1742 Thomas Butterfield, one of Lancaster’s earliest recorded slave traders, acquired various Lots or Parcells of Ground in the Green Area by way of lease from the Mayor, Bailiffs and Commonalty of the Vill or Town of Lancaster, in the County of Lancaster. On two of these Lots, by the Denomination of No.9 and No.10 on a certain Plan, the two houses now numbered 7 and 9 Chapel Street were erected. Number 11 Chapel Street was erected on Lot No. 11.
The exact date of the buildings themselves is not certain but it is probable that they were built sometime during the 1740 or 1750s. They are described in a 1763 property deed as All those two Messuages or Dwellings Houses adjoining each other situate and being on the West side of and Fronting a certain Street upon the Green Area in Lancaster aforesaid and called Chapel Street…..with the Brewhouse Backbuildings and Appurtenances lying behind the same……And also All that Stable and Building standing and being behind the said first mentioned Dwelling Houses and situate on the East side of and Fronting a certain other Street or Lane upon the Green Area aforesaid called the Dye House Lane. They are clearly delineated on the Mackereth map of 1778:
Thomas Butterfield, born in 1703, and his brother, William, born in 1707, were the two surviving sons of Christopher Butterfield, an Apothecary and Mayor of Lancaster in 1722 and 1731, and Jennet Duckett, aged 16 at the time of their marriage in 1702. Both sons were engaged in the slave trade from an early age: Thomas was listed in 1744 as part owner of the first recorded Lancaster slave ship, the ‘Expedition’ and William as the Principal Owner of the ‘Molly’. Described variously as wealthy, a Whig, Apothecary, Grocer, Merchant, Rope-maker and Ship-owner, Thomas was no doubt considered a pillar of the local community and became Treasurer of the County of Lancaster until his premature death in 1747. William succeeded his brother in the post of Treasurer of the County, a post he held for the next forty years, and went on to become Mayor of Lancaster in 1756, 1770 and 1779. He was Constable of Lancaster Castle from 1760 until his death in 1787.
Many of the Butterfields’ associates, relatives and apprentices are well known to local historians. Some of the most important people and families of the time such as Lawson, Foster, Birket, Dilworth, Atkinson, Inman, Rawlinson, Duckett, Haworth, Hornby, Bowes, Gunson, Marton, Barber, Williamson, Satterthwaite and Fenton are all linked to the Butterfields by marriage or trade.
Between them, the Butterfields were responsible for many of the fine Georgian properties built during Lancaster’s ‘Golden Age’ of the 18th century. Thomas’s will, made shortly before his death in June 1747, refers to various properties owned or held by way of lease in Lancaster and estates at Heysham Hall and Forton. William’s will, made in 1784, some three years before he died, is more detailed and lists property and land throughout Lancaster. The inventory describes more than a dozen houses, some prestigious and many ‘newly built’, including three on Rosemary Lane, just along from Chapel Street, and three on the adjacent Chapel Row, shown hand-written on the Mackereth map but no longer existing.
Although some of their sources of wealth are now contentious there is no doubt that the endeavours and success of the Butterfields in the 18th century contributed much to Lancaster’s Georgian legacy, especially the Grade II Listed Buildings at 7, 9 and 11 Chapel Street.