Refusing to Conform: Non-Conformity in South Gloucestershire

Exhibition: Tue 05 Feb 2019 - Sat 27 Apr 2019
Venue: The Museum Admission: FREE

Our latest exhibition is an account of Non-Conformity in South Gloucestershire – Protestant groups who declined to follow the rules and ceremonies of the established Church of England.

Some of these groups were specifically identified in Charles II’s 1662 Act of Uniformity and suffered disadvantage and unequal treatment as a result, being barred from public office and from pursuing university degrees. Over time, more groups were identified as non-conformist. Their chapels can be seen throughout South Gloucestershire.

Our exhibition covers a range of themes and also homes in on some specific details, such as the life and career of Handel Cossham, a prominent Non-Conformist lay preacher.

Did you know that this coal-mining entrepreneur, the largest employer in the West of England, a public benefactor and builder of several schools, a man who was a JP, the MP for Bristol East, and twice Mayor of Bath – was born in the tiny, now rather dilapidated, cottage situated next to Age UK in Thornbury High Street?   You may read the plaque on the house which says so.

In fact, he was born in the same room as his great grandfather, grandfather and father had been born. When Handel died, 50,000 people lined streets in Bath and Bristol to watch his funeral procession. You can find out more about him in the exhibition, including how he came to be called Handel and how he made a successful career in the coal mining business.

Pop in and discover for yourself something of the history of religious non-conformity in South Gloucestershire.

Elements of this FREE exhibition have been created in collaboration with Frenchay Village Museum, Kingswood Museum and Yate Heritage Centre, working together as members of the South Gloucestershire Museums Group.

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