The Uniformity Act of 1662 compelled all clergy to give their consent to the liturgy of the Church of England and outlawed all other forms of religious worship. Clergy who were unable to agree to the rites of the Church of England were deprived of their parishes and forbidden to preach. Later Acts of Parliament forbade any religious gathering within 5 miles of a parish church and placed a limit on the number of people who could worship in private without using the Book of Common Prayer.
About 2000 ministers left the church about this time, including William Bagshawe, the vicar of Glossop and owner of Ford Hall near Chapel-en-le-Frith. Bagshawe was a famous local Nonconformist who held private services for many years at Ford Hall and later preached among many of the local villages. He was known as the 'Apostle of the Peak'.
Chinley Chapel interior
The Act of Toleration in 1689 finally allowed Nonconformists to worship without persecution although bars to public office remained. Bagshawe and his friends converted a barn and held services there until Bagshawe's death in 1702. A dispute over the barn led to Bagshawe's successor, Dr James Clegg, to search for a more suitable place to worship, and in 1711 the 'New' Chapel was erected at a place now known as Chapel Milton.
The chapel is overshadowed externally by the enormous columns of the Midland Railway viaduct, but is a beautiful early 18th century building. The interior is simple and stark, in typical early Geogian style. One of the notable features is the gravestone of Grace Murray, a local woman who is said to be the only woman John Wesley ever loved. Though Wesley paid many visits to Chinley and often visited Grace and preached at the New Chapel, he never proposed to her and she eventually married one of his associates, a local preacher called John Bennet.