MEMORIAL CHURCH SCHOOLS AT HELME.
LAYING THE CORNER STONE.
About twelve years ago, the Healey House family, in the plenitude of their munificence, erected a church at Helme, near Meltham ; and the premises formerly licensed for the celebration of divine service were then appropriated to educational purposes, and, although from the first not intended to be used permanently, they have been occupied as day and Sunday Schools up to the present time. The Rev. C.S. Green, vicar, is indebted to the same family for a new Vicarage House, now in course of erection ; and, to complete this good work for the advancement of the people in temporal and spiritual matters, the last act of the Brooks is the erection of commodious school premises near the Parish Church. The church, Vicarage House, and schools are in close proximity, and, occupying elevated positions, overlook one of the most charming landscape scenes in this neighbourhood. The Vicarage is encompassed by a belt of trees, and, we believe, there is to be attached to it three and a half acres of glebe land. There is to be an entrance for the special use of parishioners ; and communication will be opened between the church and the vicarage by means of a rustic bridge extending from the vicar's grounds to a winding lane leading to the church. The site of the new schools abuts Slade's Lane, a little below the church, and is not far distant from the model houses at Helme. The population of the parish, which stands in the centre of a most picturesque locality, is estimated at about 800, the people being employed chiefly in the silk, cotton, and woollen mills of Meltham and Meltham Mills. About 150 scholars attend the Sunday School ; and the day school, considering the position of the place, is also well attended. The old school buildings, however, were only intended for temporary purposes ; and, on Tuesday afternoon, Miss Brook, of Healey House, laid the corner stone of more suitable premises, to be erected in memory of her father, the late Charles Brook, Esq., of Healey House. The great object to be attained in the erection of these schools, the architect of which is Mr. Barber, of Halifax, is not so much an ornate style of architecture as thorough internal convenience, a separate lobby, lavatory, classroom, and play ground being appointed for male and female members of the school ; no expense, in fact, being spared to render them thoroughly convenient and comfortable. The site is about half an acre in extent.
The school is intended to be built to accommodate about 120 children. The master's residence forms the east wing of the building, and had it even been designed under the stringent rules of the Committee of Council, further care could not have been given to the general comfort of the inmates. The interior is purposely plain, subservient in fact to the church, although partaking somewhat of its style, the treatment adopted being more of a secular than a strictly ecclesiastical character ; harmony of outline and grouping with surrounding objects having had more consideration given to them than elaborate detail. Mr. N. Earnshaw, of Meltham, is the general contractor, and through him Mr. William Myers has been entrusted with the joiner's work, Mr. Elliott officiating as clerk of works. The cost of the structure could not be ascertained by our reporter, and we can only say that the gift of these schools, in memory of one whose name will be long cherished, and whose survivors are imbued with the same spirit of liberality, may be regarded as another instance of the sympathy of the family with their poor neighbours and employees, and of their unwavering attachment to that locality.
At four o'clock in the afternoon, service was held in the church, the. Rev. C. S. Green reading the prayers, and the Rev. A. Brooke, vicar of Holbeach, Lincolnshire, preaching the sermon. After service, the clergy, scholars, congregation, &c., marshalled by E. C. Gooddy, Esq., one of the churchwardens, marched to the site, to witness and take part in .the ceremony, the following being the order of procession :— Superintendent and churchwarden, Mr. David Balmforth ; teachers, 30 in number ; clergy, amongst whom were the Revs. Canon Hulbert, vicar of Almondbury ; G. Hough, South Crosland ; J.S.E. Spencer, Wilshaw ; W. Whitaker, curate, South Crosland ; T. Lewthwaite, Lockwood, &c. ; invited visitors ; Church officers and district visitors ; scholars ; and general congregation. The whole of the inhabitants of the parish came out to show their appreciation of this thrice repeated example of Christian virtue and princely generosity, and the assemblage at the ceremony and the interest manifested in the service could not fail to be cheering to the vicar of the parish. Besides the clergy, and the presence of a numerous company of ladies, there were present Messrs. William Brook, Ordsall Hall, Retford ; William Brooke, J.P., Northgate House ; Edward Brooke, Meltham Hall ; Thomas Allen, Huddersfield ; E.C. Gooddy ; T.D. Scholes ; Bamford, of Bentley Hey, &c. The procession having formed a square, a short service, conducted by the vicar, ensued.
The Rev. C.S. Green said it was with very great pleasure that he had to announce to them publicly, as he had been enabled to announce privately to most of them, that Miss Brook had kindly consented to lay the stone of those memorial schools, and he was led to ask her to do so for two chief reasons — one that she was the only resident representative of the family that had done so much for them as a parish and a people, and also from the kindly interest and unvarying attention she had paid to every thing connected, particularly with the schools of the parish, but also generally to the parish itself. In presenting the trowel to her, in the name of the teachers, scholars, and congregation, he might just state that it had been a most free-will offering ; in fact, the whole matter had been a most popular effort, everybody seeming to vie with his neighbour in showing Miss Brook that she lived in the hearts of the people of Helme, and so reciprocating the feeling which they were all assured had long lived in her heart. Therefore, he tendered to Miss Brook the trowel, stating that it was a spontaneous offering on their part, and wishing her to understand that they had embraced the present occasion as one giving them an opportunity of showing that the kindly feeling which sh e had ever exercised towards them as a parish and as a people, was reciprocated by them. The rev. gentleman then made the presentation, and called upon Miss Brook to lay the stone.
The silver trowel, supplied by Mr. Heslop, of Huddersfield, bore the following inscription, the cost of the engraving having been given by Mr. Heslop :— "Presented to Frances Brook, of Healey House, by the teachers, scholars, and congregation of Christ Church, Helme, on the occasion of her laying the foundation stone of the memorial schools of that parish. Whit-Tuesday, May 30th, 1871."
The Vicar added that they could not resist the temptation of tasting that sweetness which Miss Brook herself was particularly indulgent in — the sweetness of the divine precept "It is more blessed to give than to receive." The oldest teacher — one who began the very first Sunday when the schools set forth for teaching — requested that he might be allowed to make a present of a mallet to Miss Brook. He obtained the permission of the architect who, he believed, generally claimed that privilege for himself, and the mallet had been made by their oldest Sunday School teacher, Thomas Eskell, and he thought it would be of more value to Miss Brook, having been made in the parish by an old Sunday School teacher
William Brook, Esq., of Retford, said he had been deputed by his sister, in acknowledgement of the trowel which had been presented, to return her most heartfelt thanks for their kindness. He assured them Miss Brook felt it most deeply, for she had told him that, were it not better for her to keep silent, she would try to address them herself. However, she impressed upon him to tell them how very deeply she felt their kindness, and how thankful she was to them for it. The document in the bottle to be deposited in the recess of the stone expressed extremely well their intention and feeling in erecting the schools, and therefore he would read it, as follows :—
In conclusion, Mr. Brook said he could only pray that God's blessing might rest upon their work, and that the school might prosper abundantly in the service to which it was to be devoted.
The bottle, containing the document above-mentioned, silver and copper coins, and a copy of the Huddersfield Daily Chronicle, was then dropped into the recess, and Miss Brook, when striking the stone with the mallet, repeated the words "We lay this stone in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."
The ceremony having been completed, the Vicar concluded the service, and the spectators dispersed, the congregation and friends proceeding to the adjoining schoolroom, and partaking of tea under the presidency of the Rev. C. S. Green.