Unitarian History

Elizabeth GaskellThroughout our history Unitarians have stood for inclusivity, reason and social justice including gender equality (we’ve had women ministers for more than 100 years), gay rights (we’ve performed same-sex blessings for more than 30 years) and the abolition of slavery.

The earliest organised Unitarian movements were founded in the 16th century in Poland and Transylvania following a move away from the traditional ‘trinitarian’ doctrine of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit towards favouring the unity of one God.

In Britain, Unitarianism was damned as heresy and the death penalty imposed on anyone who denied the trinity. Several early radical reformers professed Unitarian beliefs in the 16th and 17th centuries, some suffering imprisonment and martyrdom. The first Unitarian church in the UK was opened in London in 1774 and there are now more than 170 congregations throughout the country.

Prominent Unitarians include Joseph PriestleyElizabeth Gaskell (pictured right), Charles DickensThomas Jefferson,Louisa May AlcottPaul NewmanKurt VonnegutSarah AdamsFrank Lloyd Wright and Tim Berners-Lee.   

Upcoming Events

  • Heritage Open Days: Upper Chapel would like to welcome everyone to come and explore our beautiful Chapel & Channing hall on the 8th/9th September 11am-3pm - Free admission - refreshments available. More events
  • Off the Shelf: Presents an evening of New responses to Jane Austen on the 27th October - Doors open at 7pm - for more information please click on events and groups. More events