THE OCTAGON CHAPEL
The Octagon Chapel is a Unitarian Chapel located in Colegate in Norwich, Norfolk, England. The Chapel is a grade II* listed building. Completed in 1756 by the architect Thomas Ivory and is home to a growing liberal religious community of Unitarians, welcoming people of all religious faiths and none.
PEOPLE OF HISTORICAL INTEREST
- Harriet Martineau
- William Smith
- James Martineau
Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) was a British social theorist and Whig writer and is often credited as being the first female sociologist. Her written works included economic novels, social theory, romance novels and children’s books. Harriet was one of the only women in Victorian England to support herself financially entirely through writing, and often focused her work on themes of feminism and domestic issues - rare topics for her era.
William Smith (1756–1835) was an MP for Sudbury in Suffolk between 1784 and 1790. In 1802, Smith accepted to stand for the Radicals in Norwich, leading to his involvement in the Octagon Chapel as a result of him being a dissenter. Smith was most notable for his work in relieving the suffering of Unitarians through the Doctrine of the Trinity Act of 1813 and dedicated his life to advancing the equality of the Unitarian cause and the progress of numerous social movements.
James Martineau (1805-1900) was an Norwich born English religious philosopher influential in the history of Unitarianism. Martineau’s writings emphasized the individual human conscience as the primary guide for determining correct behaviour. For 45 years he was lecturer and Principal at Manchester New College where he was responsible for training ministerial students. He wrestled with questions concerning the Bible, sources of authority, the meaning of Christ, the validity of non-Christian religions and the roles of reason and conscience. He instrumental in shaping both Unitarian and general religious thought.