Extract from Discovering Old Huddersfield (1993-2002) by Gordon & Enid Minter
[Factory owner] Thomas Starkey died at the age of fifty three in 1847. Ten years later, his widow and his two brothers commissioned Sir George Gilbert Scott to design the church they intended to build in his memory. Scott was a great advocate of Gothic Revival architecture and St. Thomas' Church with its broach spire and stained glass windows is a splendid example of his work.
By the time the church was completed in 1859 John and Joseph Starkey had also died and a magnificent stained glass window was erected in memory of all three brothers.
St. Thomas', the first 'high' church to be built in Huddersfield still continues its ministry. After a dramatic but sympathetic refashioning of the interior to meet the needs of contemporary methods of worship, the church was rededicated in 1990.
Church. 1857-59. Architect Sir G G Scott. Contractors: Messrs Ben Graham of Huddersfield. Clerk of Works: Alfred A Walton. Coursed-dressed stone with ashlar dressings. Pitched slate roofs, separate roofs to nave and aisles. Coped gables with finials. Nave, chancel, aisles, north chancel chapel and one storey vestry, organ recess and sacristy on south side, porch. The outstanding feature is the south-west tower: 4 stages, surmounted by tall broach spire with gabled lucarnes. Plate tracery, early C13 to tower, late C13 to aisles. Grouped lancets in east end (blind to sacristy), and oculi with bar tracery in gable ends. Octagonal stair towers with conical ashlar roofs. Buttresses. Parapets to south aisle and tower. Gargoyles.
INTERIOR: Cylindrical piers with moulded capitals: hoodmoulds with carved label stops. Chancel has 2-bay arcade either side, with 2-centred arches and pierced quatrefoils in spandrels: naturalistic foliage carving to capitals, as to chancel arch. Pointed timber barrel vaults (diagonal bracing in chancel): wagon roofs to aisles. Low arcaded reredos, piscina, sedilia and pulpit, all of similar design, ashlar, delicate foliage carving, marble colonnettes. Communion rail with stylised iron foliage balusters, moulded wooden rail and newels. Rood beam with figures of Christ crucified, St Mary and St John. Characteristic simple bench ends and brass lectern. Good monument in style of pulpit, with delicate foliage ornament to Thomas Starkey (d 1847) and his brothers Joseph and John. Stained glass by Clayton and Bell, that in north aisle by temps.
HISTORY: Thomas Starkey, one of the family who owned Springdale Mill, Manchester Road, intended to found a church, but died of typhus. His widow asked the Vicar of Huddersfield, Canon Bateman, to approach Scott, whose father had been Bateman's tutor and who had been a boyhood friend of his. The foundation stone was laid on 19 March 1857 by Thomas Starkey's widow, Charlotte. (Below the stone is a jar with each of the current coins of the realm, and copies of the Times, the Leeds Mercury, the Huddersfield Chronicle and the Manchester Guardian). It was consecrated on 30 June 1859 by the Bishop of Ripon. The building cost £9,000, mainly provided by the Starkey family. The first Vicar was Mrs Starkey's 27 year old nephew Edmund Snowden (Vicar 1859-92).