St. David's Church, Woodhead Road, Holmbridge

The Church of St. David, situated on Woodhead Road at Holmbridge, was built to serve the three rural townships of Austonley, Cartworth and Holme.


The church was designed by Leeds based architect R.D. Chantrell, with notices placed in the local press in January 1837:[1]


Person desirous of Contracting for the different Works required in the ERECTION of a NEW CHURCH, to be Built at HOLME-BRIDGE, in the Parish to Almondbury, may inspect the Plans and Specifications (from Nine in the Morning to Four in the Afternoon) on application at the Vestry of the Parish Church, from the 2nd to the 11th of February inclusive. Tenders, sealed up and directed to the Rev. L. Jones, Almondbury Vicarage, to be sent, free of Expense, on or before Monday the 13th of February next.

Dates Almondbury, Jan 27th.

The foundation stone was laid on Monday 28 May 1838 by the Rev. Lewis Jones, Vicar of Almondbury, and read:[2]

This Foundation Stone of St. David's Church, built by Subscription, that the Inhabitants within the Graveship of Holme, may have the privilege of attending the Public Worship of Almighty God, according to the Scriptural forms of the Protestant United Church of England and Ireland, as now by Law Established, was laid by the Rev. Lewis Jones, Vicar of Almondbury, on the 28th day of May, 1838, being the first year of the reign of her Majesty Queen Victoria. Wm. Leak, John Roebuck, George Hinchliffe, Churchwardens of Holme, Austonley & Cartworth.

The new church was consecrated by the Lord Bishop of Ripon on the afternoon of Saturday 28 March 1840. Earlier in the day, he had consecrated the new church of St. Lucius at Farnley Tyas.[3] Sermons were being preached at the church by the summer of 1841, if not earlier.

By March 1842, the Leeds Intelligencer reported that "it must be truly gratifying to the friends of the establishment to witness the rapid progress hitherto made towards rendering the new Church at Holme Bridge as complete as they could desire. The elegant Sunday School connected with it, now nearly finished at Field End, will be a great desideratum." It was also stated that "a grant of £250 was made towards erecting a Parsonage House".[4]

The church in incorrectly named "St. James's" on the first Ordnance Survey map, surveyed in 1850/1.

Following the devastating flood of 5 February 1852, when the embankment of Bilberry Reservoir failed, architect William Wallen was approached to work on the restoration of the church.

Holmfirth Flood of 1852

Extract from The Holmfirth Flood (1910):

The stream at Holmebridge was crossed by a bridge of one arch, about thirty yards to the east of which stands the Church of St. David’s, which had been erected only a few years before the flood. The church steeple faces up the stream, and stood about the centre of the graveyard. On the Cartworth side of the river stood a toll-bar and a number of dwellinghouses. The foundations of the bridge were washed completely bare, and the stream flowing from Bilberry reservoir for some weeks after the flood passed through a large opening washed away in the road outside of the bridge, which was about ten yards wide, ten feet deep, and had to be crossed by a plank. The wall surrounding the church was washed away by the current, and the few trees planted in the yard were uprooted and carried down the stream. The interior of the church and the graveyard presented a most awful spectacle. Inside the church the water rose to about five feet. The floor was torn up, some of the pews were lifted bodily and floated in the water, and the floor was covered with sand and mud several inches thick ; cushions, prayer books, etc., were washed away in great numbers. A goat, which had previously been seen feeding in the graveyard, was found dead in the middle aisle of the church, having been washed there by the flood, which stove in the church doors. Within a few feet of the goat, and resting on one of the pew seats, lay the coffin and remains of a full grown man, which, with others, had been washed up from their graves by the whirlpool formed by the headlong current as it passed over the churchyard. Immediately after the flood had subsided, the churchyard was to a great extent covered with broken machinery, pieces of cloth, yarn, furniture, stones, hay, and various other articles. The gates of the toll-house were lifted from their position and swept along by the fury of the torrent, but the bar-house itself escaped. The houses of the inhabitants bordering upon the stream at this point were inundated, their property either destroyed or spoilt; and such was the quantity of mud and filth which had accumulated in and about the dwellings that a most; awful stench was occasioned. That the church itself was so little damaged comparatively is due to the fact above stated — that the valley being at this point much wider than it is above and a little below, enabled the waters to spread over a greater surface. The Rev. Eldred Woodhead, rector of St. Lawrence, Southampton, and formerly vicar of Holmebridge, in a letter to the Leeds Intelligencer, dated 7th February, alluding to the unsafe state of the reservoir, says, “I would not build my school low in the valley, as that unfinished work (the Bilberry Reservoir) was always regarded by me with fears and suspicion.”

Historic England Listing

  • Grade II
  • first listed 16 January 1967
  • listing entry number 1134742

WOODHEAD ROAD (Holmbridge). Church of St David. North-east/south-west. Gothic revival Church with west tower. 1839-40 by R D Chantrell. Chancel added 1887. Deeply coursed dressed stone with ashlar dressings. Pitched slate roof with roll-top copings. Seven bay nave with lancet lights with stained glass and hood mould. Four tier tower with diagonal buttreses of crenellated parapet with tall pinnacles. Bell chamber with 2-light louvred openings. Clock to 3 elevations. chancel of 2 bays with tall 3-light stained glass east window. Later Vestry with shouldered arch openings. Interior: Chancel arch. West gallery.


    Loading... ::::::geograph 1412447:::geograph 836322:::geograph 34405:::geograph 1022303:::geograph 1412442:::omeka tag St. David's Church (Holmbridge):::



Notes and References

  1. Leeds Intelligencer (28/Jan/1837).
  2. "New Church at Holme Bridge" in Leeds Intelligencer (02/Jun/1838). The article incorrectly names the architect as "William Allen, Esq., F.S.A."
  3. "Consecration of Two New Churches" in Leeds Intelligencer (04/Apr/1840).
  4. "Holmfirth" in Leeds Intelligencer (12/Mar/1842).