St. Paul's Church, Huddersfield

St. Paul's Church is a former Huddersfield church built in the 1820s. It is now part of the University of Huddersfield campus and is used as a concert venue for the annual Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.


Extract from A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848) edited by Samuel Lewis:

St. Paul's church, erected in 1831, on a site given by Sir J. Ramsden, at a cost of £5486, defrayed by the Parliamentary Commissioners, is in the early English style, with an embattled tower surmounted by a graceful spire, and contains 1200 sittings, of which 250 are free: the living is a perpetual curacy ; net income, £200 ; patron, the Vicar of Huddersfield.

The church was designed by John Oates and built by Joseph Kaye, with funding provided by the Church Building Commissioners.

The foundation stone was laid on 13 November 1829 and the building was completed by 1831.[1]

The first recorded burial was that of John Thomas King of Spring Street, aged 38, which took place on 3 July 1831. In total, just over 1,600 burials took place up to 1917, with only a handful after 1898.

The first recorded baptism was that of Marianne Sutcliffe on 24 July 1831, the daughter of plasterer William Sutcliffe of Upperhead Row and his wife Herodias.

Fund-raising took place in the early 1840s in an attempt to clear the "considerable debt" still outstanding on the building.[2]

The first wedding took place on 16 March 1859, between Tom Abraham Brown and Hannah Platts.

The chancel was added in 1883, designed by John Kirk and Sons of Huddersfield. The foundation stone was laid on 11 July 1883 by Lady Guendolen Ramsden in torrential rain. The architects also took the opportunity to address a number of issues that had arisen over the years, including enlarging the entrances and erecting porches. The Chronicle recorded the following contacts for the work, all of whom were based in Huddersfield:[3]

  • B. Graham and Nephew — masons
  • J. Christie — joiner
  • Brook and North — plumbers
  • W.E. Jowitt — plasterer
  • W. Goodwin and Sons — roof slater
  • Sam Kendall — painter
  • Messrs. W. and S. Thornton and Son — heating

According to a 1928 centenary booklet, the last burial at the church took place in on 1 December 1917.[4] By then, a total of 1,658 burials had taken place.

The building was granted Grade II listing status in March 1952.[5]

The final service took place on 15 April 1956 and was conducted by the Bishop of Wakefield.

The church was converted into a concert hall in 1980 and is used as a venue for the annual Contemporary Music Festival.

Pipe Organ

The most well-known organist at St. Paul was Huddersfield-born Walter Parratt, who served in the period 1854-68 and was later knighted and appointed "Master of the Queen's Musick" to Queen Victoria.

Borough organist Arthur Pearson also served as the organist at the church.

The current organ was built and installed by Wood of Huddersfield in 1977.

A number of minor repairs were carried out during the next 20 years, including a full clean necessitated when an accident filled the building with stone dust. A large scale restoration of the organ took place during 1996 and 1997, partly funded by the Arts Council of England.[6]

Church Day Schools

The cornerstone of the new Church Day Schools was laid on Saturday 27 January 1906 by Lady Gwendolen Ramsden. A collection taken at the time amounted to £32.

The schools opened almost exactly a year later on 26 January 1907 by the The Bishop of Wakefield. A further £132 was removed from the debts of the buildings via a collection.

The remainder of the debt was cleared during the incumbency of the Rev. Cyril Herbert Harvey.

According the centenary booklet published in 1928, the following were long-serving members of staff for the Day Schools:

  • Miss Tetlow, Head Infant Mistress
  • Mr. Daniels, Head Teacher
  • Mr. Fowler, Head Teacher
  • Mr. and Mrs. Dunn, School Caretakers
  • Miss Ramsden
  • Miss Bamford
  • Miss Rhodes
  • Miss A. Dickenson


The rectory was later built on the land between the church and the Ramsden Building.

This site is now occupied by the University of Huddersfield's Science Building.


The following is a partial list of the known incumbents of the church:

  • Rev. C.H. Lutwidge (1831-1832)
  • Rev. John Bywater (1832-1834)
  • Rev. J.R. Oldham (1834-1844)
  • Rev. John Haigh (1844-1862)
  • Rev. George G. Lawrence (1862-1874)
  • Rev. William Ridley (1874-1879)
  • Rev. Percy F.J. Pearce (1879-1887)
  • Rev. A.C. Ranger (1888-1894)
  • Rev. Alfred William Johnson Keely (1894-1917)
  • Rev. R.W.L. Connor (1917) — left immediately to fight in the First World War and was forced to resign due to health issues
  • Rev. E. Marsh (1917-1918)
  • Rev. E.F. Odling (1918-1926)
  • Rev. Cyril Herbert Harvey (1926-1929)

Further Reading

Discovering Old Huddersfield

Extract from Discovering Old Huddersfield (1993-2002) by Gordon & Enid Minter:

In 1818, Parliament voted a million pounds towards the building of Anglican churches in new areas. This so-called Million Act was ostensibly a thanksgiving for the recent victory at Waterloo but its underlying cause undoubtedly sprang from the desire of the Established Church to combat the inexorable spread of Nonconformity, especially in northern industrial areas. The churches built as a result of the Act were called Million or Waterloo churches and St. Paul's was one of these. Built at a cost of £6,000 the church, which was designed by John Gates, open in 1831 and served the town for more than a hundred and twenty years until it became redundant. It closed with a special service led by the Bishop of Wakefield on 15th April 1956. The church, now St. Paul's Hall, is part of the university and the venue of a highly esteemed annual festival of contemporary music.

Historic England Listing

  • Grade II
  • first listed 3 March 1952
  • listing entry number 1231471

QUEENSGATE. St Paul's Hall, University of Huddersfield. 1829. Architect; John Oates or Joseph Kaye. Ashlar. Pitched slate roof. Nave and aisles, chancel, vestry, west tower. Parapets. Buttresses, diagonal at corners, with pinnacles. 5-bay nave, 3-bay chancel with polygonal end. All windows plain chamfered untraceried lancets, some with hoodmoulds. 3-stage tower with diagonal buttresses and crenellated parapet. Octagonal spire with 2 stages of gabled lucanes. Aisle west doors have ogee mouldings with delicate sculpted ornament. The chancel was added in 1883, its foundation stone laid by Lady Gwendolen Ramsden. Interior; Octagonal piers; tall arcade blind triforium arcade: clerestory lancets with colonettes. Flat roofs. Chancel has quadripartite rib vault. West gallery. Good neo-classical marble tablet to Edward Learoyd, d 1857.


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Notes and References

  1. A New and Complete History of the County of York (1828-31) by Thomas Allen.
  2. A series of public notices appeared in the press in advance of the fund-raising bazaar held over 3 days in May 1841.
  3. Huddersfield Chronicle (12/Jul/1883).
  4. This is recorded as the burial of the cremated remains of James Harrop Dransfield of the Manor House, Farningham, Kent.
  5. Historic England
  6. Huddersfield Organists' Association and Huddersfield Organ Archive