Holden Chapel Gallery and the Lost Orchestras

Holden chapel still has to its gallery. These were once common in churches and chapels, but the Victorians took a dislike to them and often had them removed. Their main purpose was to squeeze in more worshippers when the floor space was insufficient. They also housed the musicians. Congregationalists of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries would have baulked at the suggestion of an organ being played. They were considered far too Catholic. Metrical psalms would have been sung unaccompanied; Isaac Watts, however, popularised hymns from the mid 1700s. These were often led by small orchestras in chapels, including fiddles, based in the gallery. They could be seen by the preacher leading worship, but unable to distract the bulk of the people sitting below. Eventually, organs became fashionable and the chapel ensembles died out. 

The view from above.