Extract from Discovering Old Huddersfield (1993-2002) by Gordon & Enid Minter:
A local author, Charles Hobkirk, writing in 1868 praises the "pleasing aspect" of St. John's Church and describes it as being "situated almost in the country, surrounded by pasture land and backed to the north by Fixby Hills and Grimscar Woods." In the intervening years the pasture land has given way to concrete, brick and stone and the pleasant aspect is changed indeed. Nevertheless, the present surroundings should not detract attention from the impressive lines of this typical Gothic-Revival church. It was built for the Trustees of Sir John Ramsden who appointed the architect William Butterfield to design the building. Work started in 1851 and was completed in 1853. Butterfield was famous for his use of variously coloured brick and he must have felt some little frustration here when he found he was expected to use local stone.
The builder was Joseph Kaye who demanded of his workforce the highest standard of workmanship. However, perfectionists are not usually the speediest of workers and Kaye's rate of progress certainly displeased Mr. Butterfield who said in a letter concerning the church that "...he (Kaye) has but one pace and that is a very slow one ... the tower is rising at the rate of four inches a week." Butterfield obviously made no allowance for the fact that Joseph Kaye was in his eighth decade at that time.
Others though were kinder. William Tite, for example, was said to have a high opinion of the masonry and general character and detail of the whole building. St. John's Church is regarded by some as Kaye's masterpiece and a hundred and forty years after its building, during which time the stonework has needed few repairs, we can still appreciate the quality of the workmanship which was the man's hallmark.
In 1820 an Act was passed for "lighting, watching and cleaning the town of Huddersfield." For the purpose of the Act the town was deemed to be all the land within a radius of twelve hundred yards from the Market Cross. This artificial boundary was reinforced by the Improvement Act of 1848. Four years later St. John's Church was built twelve hundred yards away from the Market Cross and, consequently, right on the boundary which ran diagonally through the church from north east to south west.
ST JOHN'S ROAD (West Side) Bay Hall, Church of St John. Foundation stone laid 1851 by Sir John William Ramsden, 5th Bart, who built the church in memory of his father. Consecrated 1853. Architect: William Butterfield. Ashlar. Steep-pitched slate roofs. Coped gables. Lean-to aisle roofs, parapeted. Buttresses. Five bay nave, with tiny oculi to clerestory. Chancel. South-west and north-west porches. Fine Geometrical tracery, especially at east and west ends. Four-stage tower in south-east corner, with imposing traceried bell-openings, openwork parapet, and octagonal corner pinnacles. Octagonal spire with three stages of gabled lucarnes, crocketed finial and weathervane. Interior Collar-braced roof, with lower struts inclined slightly inwards. Ashlar font and pulpit of massive, elemental forms. Characteristically simple wooden furnishings, the bench ends giving illusion of being slightly tilted.