Huddersfield Chronicle (10/Nov/1894) - Marrying at Kirkheaton

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.


(From Our Correspondent "Cid.")

(Houses Hill, Whitley Beaumont, and Bible Teaching to follow.)

The Church, the State, the ancient homes
Of this dear land of ours,
Are linked in filial amity,
Three undivided powers;
Dread storms of discontent may rage,
From cottage to the Throne,
But still these as great landmarks stand,
Firmly together drawn.
The stately manse, the wooded park,
The sturdy, towering trees,
The grassy plain, the flowers, the fruit,
Give fragrance to each breeze;
The dell, the glade, the slope, the hill,
The lake, the nascent river,
Must be to man true beauty spots,
Now and ever and ever.
The State, the Queen, the Royal Line,
Unbroken in succession,
Surrounded by brave men and true,
Who know not retrogression;
Must claim support from Britain’s sons,
By craven fear unhaunted,
As in the past, now, and for aye.
In freedom’s cause undaunted.
The Church, the dear old English Church,
United by one aim,
Opes wide her arms of constant love,
And puts her foes to shame;
A leader in the past, a guide,
A succourer in need,
A solace now and must e’er be
A god-like friend indeed.

The sun is blazing fiercely and the clouds are chasing and meeting each other in grand array, some plumed in the gayest feathers, other as sombre as artillery and as dark as battalions of infantry, as I ride to “Waterloo.” There is, however, no sound of warfare, no crack of rifle or cannon’s roar, nor any imperious word of command being given as I pass beneath the signboard bearing that memorable name, into a cool bar parlour to receive at the hands of a fair damsel satisfying refreshment. I am soon ready to witness a handicap bicycle race to Be run to Wakefield and back, but as the first batch of contestants do not turn up at their appointed times. I improve the occasion by reading some excellent verses, well printed and framed, entitled “Twenty-four golden rules.” I am greatly interested with the “merrie” jingle of words, and the practical common sense advice they contain for the especial benefit of farmers. I readily recommend all who are interested in land and cattle to secure one of these pictured rules. I notice the poetry is preceded by two quotations, which I can fully endorse; “That pretty place of the hills,” “The healthiest place in England Mr. Jones, the healthiest place in England,” and anyone who knows that delightful moorland height, Harden Moss, he will not wonder that the enthusiastic writer of the latter asks, “When are we to have a sanitorium there?” The cyclists still fail to turn up so I turn out and proceed towards Kirkheaton. To the left is Round Wood, an elevation that always interestingly tempts me to pay it a visit. There are any quantity of legends about this tree-surrounded and field-capped hill, the one about there having been a great battle fought on its summit, and that the killed were buried here, ever recurs to me. It is delightfully situated, and though not high, still it may be seen for miles and looked at with pleasure by all. As I pass the stream, and note how clearly and sweetly it sings over the weir, I am pleased to find it so different from what it once was. Whenever I think of filthy water in a small stream my memory presents to me pictures which the sight of this “Black Dike” has indelibly painted on my mind. As it is today, however, there is conclusive evidence that the purification of our streams and rivers is possible, and instead of our waterways being open sewers, as they once were, they are fast becoming, and must become, things of winding beauty, so pure as to welcomely open their bosoms to the finny tribes as they did of yore, and be no longer breeders of microbic miasmas and pictures of all that is foul and disgusting. No wonder that the thrush perches in the willows, and pipes to earth and heaven its joy over this purified stream. No bird delights in pure water more than the thrush, and no bird gives forth such noble and commanding notes as it in the glades where springs bubble from the earth and rival his whistlings in their gushing gladsomeness. Just now the swallows are busily serving mankind by feeding on excessive insect life, their white breasts flashing and swerving hither and thither like rays of zigzag light, accompanied by their glossy shades. Of course I pass into Kirkheaton Churchyard and pay my respects to my ancient friend the leafless yew tree. I enter its gaping hollow and look with solicitude upon the elder, the bramble, the ivy, the choking grass, and the redundant weeds that cling to it for support, and though older than they it seems in its imperceptible decay likely to look on the joys and sorrows of many generations unborn. The church doors stand invitingly open, so I enter the sacred shrine. Perhaps my great love of this place enhances my appreciation of it, but I always unhesitatingly look upon it as the finest church in the district. On this occasion there are bright smiles and pleasant expressions on the countenances of a large number of old and young, especially the maidens, whom I find seated and being seated in the building. I make enquiries and am quickly told that three weddings are about to take place. As I have not been at a marriage service for a long time, I resolve to stay the proceedings out, and so enter the baptistry beneath the old tower from which I can hear and see all that takes place. I am soon copying the names of the rectors and patrons of Kirkheaton Church from Thomas de Kirkeby, 1245, to Ralph H. Maddox, B.D., 1880, and feel such a deep interest in them all that I forget what is taking place in the chancel. What a marvelous history surrounds all these names; from Henry III to Queen Victoria! The impressive and solemn words that now fall from the rector’s lips strike my ear with peculiar force. The marriage service of the Church of England is a wonderful conception, so full of meaning and so far-reaching in its consequences. There could be nothing more appropriate to the occasion than its individual and comprehensive expressions. The scrupulous care taken by the established ministers, the individual responsibility made plain, and the deep reverence manifested in the words “so long as ye both shall live” have a deep effect upon me, greater even than when I was a principal in such a ceremony. As I further listen I also feel that if those persons who at times think lightly of the marriage tie would listen to the marriage service more frequently, the deep solemnity of its meaning, the comprehensiveness of its force, the mystic sacredness of its full consummation, and the terrible results of unfaithfulness to its commands, would check them in their frivolity and they would be more fully convinced that there is something in the holy state of matrimony more than the registration of a contract between the sexes. To make the marriage tie but a legal one, to make it a bargain as a witnessed or solely secular transaction, to make the marriage lines simply a settled receipt intimating the date on which one sex bought the other is but one remove from free love, and but a thin partition between promiscuous intercourse. To be thus bound only by a man-made law, legalised by a fleeting Parliamentary majority, suggests that such a law can be unmade by another fleeting majority with confusion upon confusion as the result. The wholesome security of the marriage ceremony of the Church of England can never be excelled. Its vital importance can never be overestimated. Even to the non-Christian little reasonable objection can be taken to it. To the indifferent it is a stay and a steadying influence in their lives. To the Churchman its legal aspect is a secondary consideration compared with the great significance of the words, “And they twain became one flesh.”

I pass out with the first batch and am startled at the youthful appearance of the principals. Neither of them seems to be out of his or her teens, while levity prevails amongst them all, in fact, the newly-made husband as he passes me remarks to his newly-made wife who clings to his arm: “Na throw thee arms away, naah, thers no use for linking naah,” and they all pass on and away like a straggling procession of boys and girls. The usual rice-throwers and public-house spongers are waiting at the “Kirk Stile” gates. Young as the first batch were they had sense enough to escape these time-honoured nuisances, especially those throwers of rice who idiotically pitch handsful with great force into the faces of the newly-wedded pair. The spongers, in their well-known frowsy garments, with cadaverous maws, dull, glassy eyes, and beer besotted features are out of the pale of criticism and beyond the power of reform, so much so that they have become an everlasting voluntary institution. One of these, on discovering that the first batch had evaded them, by passing out of the back door, as it were, of the churchyard, remarks, with an oath, that weddings now-a-days are not worth a row of pins; there is more to be got out of a funeral any day. He made an exception of the weddings that came “thrut Graungemoor.” When “t’ Graunge-moorers” came to be “spliced” they brought some money with them, spent it freely, and enjoyed themselves. An old Kirkheaton wag passes and I remark to him that I have seen so many marriages that afternoon that I am beginning to think that the villagers are being re-wed. “Yov no need,” he replied, “them ets suited with one another never think of deeing wall ther too old to wed agean, and them ets dissatisfied run away, but we’ve so many youngens springing up in Yetton and t’ district, that it taks Mr. Maddox nearly all his time to christen and wed, and only occasionally to bury them.

After having a refresher in the ancient “Kirk Stile,” I read the old summonses preserved there, especially the one which is as follows:—

West Riding of Yorkshire.
The information and complaint of Alexander Littlewood, of Kirk Burton, in the said Riding, clothier, taken upon Oath before me, one of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace in and for the said Riding, the tenth day of March, 1806.
The said informant on his Oath saith, That on Saturday, the 8th day of March instant, at the House of William Armitage, of Whitley Upper, in the said Riding, alehouse keeper, he heard Samuel Stocks, of Liley Clough, within the said Township of Whitley Upper, clothier, swear two profane Oaths in these words, to wit, God dam you and by God, &c.
Alexander Littlewood.
taken upon Oath the day and year above-written, before me,
R. H. Bt.

From this I at once conclude that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would either rise or sink to the occasion and raise revenue by taxing the tongues of the foul-mouthed, and many other Shakespearian swearers, he could for a time be able to abolish all the other taxes, with the result that some day we should have a language pure and undefiled, in which to re-arrange the taxation of the country and discuss the better government of the nation. I now pass into the open, and am delighted with my surroundings. The Rectorage is a lovely place, guarded by trees that have witnessed many wonderful changes since they first swayed in the breeze and greeted the dawn. The house “two storeys long” still stands, or rather lies, to the left. The Cemetery has not the same attraction for me as the dear old churchyard in which my ancestors for generations lie. Cockley Hill is studded with cocks of hay and haymakers, indeed there is a smell of hay everywhere, and the sounds of the garnering of fruit are heard in every direction. To the right is an ideal garden which, shielded from the north, smiles in the sun from morn to eve. Bees are actively storing their precious honey, while the music of their hum has behind it a force that reminds one of the power such small creatures can bring to bear individually and collectively. I pass up the long tongue shrog beyond Bel-String, and find it a country-lane of the old kind, in which I take my ease among the redundant vegetation. Lascelles Hall is before me, full of memories of cricket and handloom weavers. Gawthorp looks on further to the left, Gawthorp Green is in the hollow, while the sight of Sheard’s Dam reminds me of my youthful bathing days, when the spice of danger gave zest to my pranks as I swam while my comrades kept within their depths or stood shivering on the bank. There is Botany Bay and Lepton further still to the left, while the hills beyond and around, especially Castle Hill, look on from the hazy distance.

(Houses Hill and Whitley Beaumont to follow.)