He was a pupil in the office of Sir John Soane from 1807 to 1814, and in 1819 he started a practice in Leeds. At the beginning of his career he designed a string of classical buildings. After a few years, he reinvented himself as a pioneering Gothic specialist to meet the huge demand of the times for additional Church accommodation.
The crowning of his career was the building of Leeds Parish Church (1837-1841), the biggest church in England since Christopher Wrens"s Street Paul"s and, on a national level, the most important church of the age.
After he moved to London, Chantrell started a second career as surveyor of church constructions.
He also became a respected antiquary, writer, lecturer and member of several prestigious London committees.