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CHAPEL OF ST NICHOLAS

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  NEW THEATRE, SUPERDRUG, LIPTONS, THEATRE ROYAL, WOOL HALL, COMMON HALL
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The Chapel of St Nicholas was built in 1280 for Simon de Albo, Abbot of St Werburgh's, Chester. In the 14th century it was used for a period as the church of the parish of St Oswald when the nave of the abbey church, which served the townspeople as a parish church, was rebuilt. However, this new accommodation was unpopular with the parishoners and they soon returned to worship in the south transept of the Abbey. The abandoned chapel fell into disuse until the Abbey was dissolved when, for a time, it housed the King's School. In 1488 is was conveyed to the Mayor and Assembly of Chester and in 1545 it was altered with the insertion of an upper floor for use as a Common Hall. When the new Exchange was built in Town Square in 1695, the old chapel became the Wool Hall and thirty years later was adapted for staging plays. In 1773 it was greatly upgraded to become the New Theatre and in 1777-8 as the Theatre Royal. In 1854-5 the building was converted by James Harrison as the Music Hall, a hall for entertainment and concerts. In 1921, the Music Hall became, possibly, the oldest building in the world to be used as a cinema. It closed in 1961 and became a branch of Lipton's, the first supermarket within the city walls. Since that time it has housed a number of retail businesses and is now host to a branch of 'Superdrug'. The medieval sandstone walls of the chapel rise 24 feet, raised a further 15 feet in 18 inch brickwork for the 1773 theatre. The facade dates from Harrison's remodelling of 1854-5.

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