Sidbury Chapel could again ring to sound of singing

Sidmouth musician hopes to turn old chapel into music school for singing and the voice

SIDBURY Chapel could soon become a school of music if local musician, Richard Heard’s plans are approved.

Richard, of Fortescue, Sidmouth, recently bought the former chapel and wants to breathe life back into the lovely old building by turning it into a music school, specialising in singing and the voice.

Songwriter Richard is a sound engineer and team member of Vocal Arts, an Exeter-based business he co-founded with his partner Hannah Wood.

Hannah is a professional vocal coach and performer with the all-girl acoustic trio Sounds of the Sirens.

Sidbury Chapel was built in 1820 and finally closed its doors as a place of worship in 1999.

The Independent chapel was put up for sale, for cash offers of �100,000, and was bought by Alan and Lesley Cumber from Harrow. But seven months later it was put back on the market, with council-approved planning to convert the building into a home.

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Richard said: “I fell in love with the chapel the moment I stepped inside it. It’s a beautiful building with an inspiring atmosphere and it has been a meeting place for local people to congregate and sing together for over 180 years.

“It is an important place for those who have memories of those times - and especially for those who have loved ones interred in the graveyard.

“My aim is to return the chapel to its former place in the village community, doing what needs to be done sensitively and sympathetically - and - hopefully, to welcome through our doors those who wish to benefit from what we have to offer.”

He wants to retain the viewing gallery and sees scope, in the future, for augmenting the use of the chapel with its good acoustics, for performers to use during FolkWeek, as well as offer its use to local societies and villagers to once again enjoy.

Specially designed internal acoustic shutters are proposed, along with other extensive soundproofing measures, to prevent potential noise disturbance to nearby neighbours.

Outside, plans provide for a new, natural slate roof. The original south door will be reinstated to give more natural light to the chapel hall, and a new parking area, with safer pedestrian and disabled access is planned, to serve chapel users and those visiting the graveyard.

*You can discover more about Vocal Arts and Sidbury Chapel at