Horton Chapel Arts & Heritage Society was founded in 2016 to save and renovate grade II listed building Horton Chapel for the benefit of the public, and run it as a not-for-profit venue for arts and culture – The Horton.
Following the introduction of ‘care in the community’ policies, the hospitals closed in the 1990s and the buildings were demolished to make way for new homes, or converted into flats. Horton Chapel fell into disrepair and ownership was transferred from the health authority to Epsom & Ewell Borough Council in 2004 on the condition that it should be used for the community.
Following several abortive attempts to make use of the building, Horton Chapel remained closed and at risk, until founding members of MGSO4 Epsom & Ewell Arts Festival urged councillors to consider a community bid that could benefit everyone.
Horton Chapel Arts & Heritage Society (HCAHS) was formed as a grassroots charity and won the council’s formal bid process with a dynamic vision of a creative arts centre and social space, run as an independent, self-sustaining, not-for-profit enterprise.
Over the past four years, HCAHS has raised almost £2m for The Horton Chapel Project, to bring this vision to life. National Lottery Heritage Fund has provided grants totalling £1.7m, with other contributions for specific parts of the project from: Architectural Heritage Fund, Power to Change, Viridor Credits, #Iwillfund, Institute of Conservation and Tru Vue, Surrey County Councillor Member’s Allocation and some private donations. This fundraising has been matched with £1.4m in ‘Section 106’ developers’ funds, generated from the building of new homes on the hospital sites, allocated by Epsom & Ewell Borough Council.
Community engagement has been at the heart of The Horton Chapel Project, with consultation and focus group research, information evenings and a few special events on-site.
Construction work began in 2019, following a ceremony on 18 June when the Mayor of Epsom & Ewell, Councillor John Beckett, was presented with an engraved silver spade, with which he dug the first patch of ground.
The renovation project is being managed by charity trustees supported by specialist consultants. The converted chapel is expected to open to the public as arts and heritage venue The Horton in 2021.
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