Historic chapel given to LDS

Published: Thursday, May 27 2004 7:12 a.m. MDT

LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley helps plant an oak tree Wednesday after he was given the deed to the Gadfield Elm Chapel.

David M W Pickup, for the Deseret Morning News

ELDERFIELD, England — During a visit to England on Wednesday, LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley received the deed to the Gadfield Elm Chapel, a building in Worcestershire that was of great significance in the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the British Isles.

Built in 1836 by a Christian group — the United Brethren — the chapel was given to the church in 1840 by John Benbow and Thomas Kington, converts to the LDS faith. The chapel acted as the focal point of church activity for thousands of Latter-day Saints until the majority emigrated to the United States. As a missionary to the British Isles, Brigham Young preached at Gadfield Elm, which, at the time, was the only Latter-day Saint chapel in the world.

Built of native stone and standing in the countryside of Worcestershire, the chapel is the last surviving memorial to the United Brethren, a religious group that joined the LDS Church en masse. It had a seating capacity of just 100 people.

Dwain Gardner, a representative of Gadfield Elm Trust, turned the deed over to President Hinckley. The trust bought the building at auction in 1994 and began immediately to restore it and the grounds.

After the handing-over ceremony, the 93-year-old LDS leader took part in planting an English oak tree near the building. He dug two spade loads in what was described as "tough soil," clay rather than loam.

President Hinckley has been traveling for nearly a week. He stopped first in Denmark, where he addressed members Saturday and dedicated the Copenhagen Temple on Sunday. After the ceremony at Gadfield Elm, he left for France. He is also to visit Spain.

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