The community officer who looks after a historic small chapel on the edge of Watford is hoping visitors will discover a “real gem” when it reopens at the end of next week.

Oxhey Chapel, in Gosforth Lane, has been closed since the start of this year for conservation and maintenance works costing £35,000, but it is set to open again on Friday, September 23, to give people the opportunity to see the 400 years of history within its walls.

Built in 1612 by Sir James Altham on the site of a Saxon monastery as a private chapel for his Oxhey Place estate, it was used by Oliver Cromwell’s forces during the Civil War as a storage facility – there is said to be a Cromwellian tunnel beneath and “legend has it they took the lead off the roof and used it for bullets as well,” said Henry Moore, the local community officer for the Churches Conservation Trust.

Watford Observer: An open day will be held at Oxhey Chapel next FridayAn open day will be held at Oxhey Chapel next Friday (Image: Newsquest)

The trust is the national charity protecting historic churches and the Grade II* listed Gothic-style chapel is a favourite of Henry, who is responsible for another 18 churches in Herts, Essex and Surrey, because of its interior.

He said: “I think it’s a real gem, particularly the reredos, which is quite spectacular with the ten commandments on there, but the oak panelling is quite something.

“In all of my churches I don’t have anything quite like this. The oak panelling gives it a really nice bit of personality and when you open the door you’re hit with this amber glow rather than the simple whitewashed walls of a normal chapel.”

Watford Observer: The font at the entrance to the chapelThe font at the entrance to the chapel (Image: Newsquest)

With running costs of £3,000 a year, it is vital the chapel is used and Henry is keen to involve the community.

He said: “I’ve talked to the incumbent for All Saints next door. She’s expressed an interest in having services in here. In the past they would have a little Christmas service, schools would come and use it as well so I’m very open to people using it for services.

“I think it’s a wonderful place to have a service, a very unique environment and of course I’d like it open daily for people to wander in and discover a wonderful piece of history on their doorstep.

Watford Observer: The Sir James Altham monument inside the chapelThe Sir James Altham monument inside the chapel (Image: Newsquest)

“I’m working on finding a key holder and I’m always looking for a volunteer to have the chapel open and give the place a general clean.”

Anyone interested in helping at the chapel can contact Henry on 07799 424070 or email

An open day will be held next Friday from 10am to 4pm.