William Bagshawe, who was the vicar at the Anglican church in Glossop, was forced to leave along with some two thousand other clergy who refused to comply with the introduction of the Book of Common prayer in 1662. This was the beginning of many of the nation's non-conformist congregations.
William Bagshaw departed on the given date of 24th August 1662 and made his way, with his family to live at The Hall in Great Hucklow as it was owned but not used by his father.
William Bagshawe continued to preach in his liberal and inclusive manner, emphasising the care and respect for each individual, although it was a time when such liberalism was not tolerated and when worship took place, 'look outs' were employed to keep a careful watch, for if Bagshawe and his supporters were discovered worshipping, they would have to suffer fines and possibly imprisonment.
Worship was originally in a licenced building at the Hall which by now was owned by John Bagshawe, William's brother, since their father's death. William Bagshawe had moved to live at Ford Hall near Chapel-en-le-Frith.
After Bagshawe's death in 1702, worship continued in the hands of many other ministers whose ministry was often linked to other nearby congregations.
With more liberal laws, theological debate continued through the eighteenth century and the congregation became Presbyterian, constructing the present-day Chapel which was first used for public worship in 1796.
The enquiring minds of the day began to challenge the authenticity of the much established interpretation of the scriptures and the word 'unitarian' began to be used to describe those who felt that they wanted to explore and debate the idea of the 'trinity'. Along with many other others across the country, the congregation at Great Hucklow adopted the word 'Unitarian' in its title and this remains to this day.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Unitarian ministers in the cities of Sheffield and Manchester raised funds to bring parties of children to the village to experience the beautiful Derbyshire countryside. This led to the construction of some purpose-built accommodation in the village and the Chapel responded to the increase in the number of visiting worshippers by constructing a balcony and a porch, complete with bell-cote, in 1900.
Great Hucklow and the surrounding countryside became a favourite place for unitarians and their friends who, nowadays, stay at 'The Nightingale Centre' - a delightful 'Holiday and Conference Centre'. Many who stay at the Nightingale Centre join us for worship.