Testimonials addressed to Richard Bates (1837-1902) for his work as Clerk of the Works on the Strict Baptist Chapel, Chaucer Street, Nottingham, and the University College Nottingham buildings, Shakespeare Street, Nottingham

Scope and Content

The collection consists of three letters, each praising Bates' superintendence of the building works:

Testimonial from William Mawson, Architect, of The Exchange, Bradford, Yorkshire [partner in Lockwood and Mawson, the architects of the College buildings], 5 May 1881 (MS 961/1);

Testimonial from William Foster, Chairman of the Building Committee, and Samuel George Johnson, Town Clerk, of the Town Clerk's Office, Nottingham, 25 Jun. 1881 (MS 961/2).

Testimonial from the committee, formed of A. Coughtrey, Thomas James Sale, Richard Marriott and John Player, concerning Bates' work on 'Chaucer Street Chapel', Nottingham, n.d. (MS 961/3).

Administrative / Biographical History

Richard Bates was born in around 1837 at St Ebbs, Oxfordshire. In the 1881 census he was aged 44, living at 77 Bluebell Hill, Nottingham, with his wife Jane, and was described as 'Clerk of Building Work'. His children, the eldest aged 22 and the youngest a newborn, were born in St Ebbs, Shoreditch and Notting Hill in London, Manchester, Darlington, and Nottingham, giving an indication of the varying places that Bates lived in to further his career. He is known to have worked additionally on Derby College (possibly the Derby College of Art, built 1876/77) and Huddersfield Technical Institute (opened 1884). By the 1901 census, Bates was living in Hertfordshire with his wife Jane. His death, at the age of 65, was registered in Hendon in 1902.

University College Nottingham was founded in 1877. The College grew out of the 19th century desire to open up university education to people unable to attend the traditional universities of Oxford or Cambridge. The actual impetus for the building of the college was a grant of £10,000 by an anonymous donor to Nottingham Corporation, to provide an endowment for lectureships. The donation was given on the condition that the Corporation acquired or built suitable accommodation for the lectures. Building work began on the new college buildings in 1877. The site chosen was a parcel of land known as Horse Pool Close which was already owned by the Corporation. Shakespeare Street had been built across the close in 1852. The foundation stone of the new college buildings was laid on 27th September 1877 and the college opened in 1881.

'Chaucer Street Chapel' was a Gospel Standard Strict Baptist chapel which was built on Chaucer Street in Nottingham in around 1882. It is not shown on the Ordnance Survey map of Nottingham surveyed in 1881, but by 1883 the chapel was listed in White's Directory of Nottingham, with A. Coughtrey as its minister. It is believed that the 'John Player' who signed the testimonial was John Player, the tobacco manufacturer, whose family were known to be Baptists. The chapel remained on Chaucer Street until the late 20th century. The chapel was demolished and replaced with the Belgrave Centre owned by Nottingham Trent University. In 2015 the Strict Communion Baptist congregation was worshipping in premises called Hope Chapel on Highurst Street, Nottingham.


No archival arrangement has been necessary.

Access Information

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Other Finding Aids

This description is the only finding aid available for the collection. Copyright in the description belongs to The University of Nottingham.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements


Conditions Governing Use

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult.

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections

Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Custodial History

The testimonials were discovered in 2015 within the possessions of the late Raymond Hills, a descendant of Richard Bates. They were given to The University of Nottingham in August 2015.

Related Material

Records of University College Nottingham (Ref: UCN)