The History of Honley (1914) - Chapter VIII

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The History of Honley and its Hamlets from the Earliest Time to the Present (1914) by Mary A. Jagger


(The History of St. Mary’s Church. — Cemetery. — Parish Room).


The history of an ancient Church is generally so interwoven with the lives of generations of men and women who have lived and died under its shadow, that its history is their own. A stranger when entering Honley Church would at once realise that the present edifice is of comparatively modern date. What history then can be written about a building which bears no traces upon its walls of a remote past? The present Church however is the third edifice which has stood upon the old foundation. When the Roman Catholic religion prevailed in England, an Oratory was in existence in Honley previous to 1503, but all trustworthy records regarding this ancient building are lost in the mists of the past. If, however, all traces are destroyed, the first document relating to the structure is still preserved. This is a Faculty written in dog-latin by Archbishop Savage, Primate of England in 1503 granting leave for “Celebration of Mass, Canonical hours, and other Divine offices” to take place in the Oratory which the Archbishop describes as “founded and erected of old.” This wording proves that an Oratory, or place for private devotion was in existence before 1503, which stood upon the site of the present Church. The Oratory would be near the dwelling in Church Street, to which previous reference has been made. If, according to oral traditions, a petty King or Richard Waley, Lord of Honley, lived there, probably the latter would maintain the Oratory until reduced to penury. The Wallis and Stapylton families, as we have seen, followed him in possession of the Manor of Honley. There are no records that either of these families were resident; so that no doubt the Oratory was closed and neglected, or only used when a travelling Priest passed that way. Certainly there would be no resident Chaplain else we should not find that according to the Faculty, and an old MS. said to be at Woodsome, that the dwellers in Honley had to walk to Almondbury for all purposes of religious services. Canon Hulbert in his history, quotes from the Woodsome MS., that when Almondbury Church was enlarged by the Kayes, of Woodsome, it was “casten into four parts as the Parish is, and dealt and divided and when complete, then lots were cast where every quarter of the Parish should sit when they came to Church to avoid contention, viz:— Honley, Farnley and Meltham quarter in the North side, Almondbury next, then Crosland next to them, and Holmfirth quarter on the South.” This was previous to the date of granting the Faculty for worship at Honley. The following is a translation from the Faculty granting permission for holding of Mass, written by Archbishop Savage:

Thomas, by Divine permission Archbishop of York, Primate of England, and Legate of the Apostolic see, to the beloved children in Christ, the natives of the villages or hamlets of Houndsley (Honley), Meltham and Crossland in the Parish of Almondbury, in the diocese of York, to the inhabitants greeting in Our Saviour’s embrace. Since we have lately had information from true source, that the real Parish Church of Almondbury aforesaid, is far distant from the hamlets aforesaid, and that the natives and inhabitants of the villages or hamlets broken down with age and held with various diseases, moreover women labouring with child, and several others of them being far distant, are by no means able to be present to celebrate Mass on holy and other festivals of the Saints, and at the Canonical hours in the said Church, in the Parish of Almondbury. We, desiring to relieve such persons and other inhabitants of the villages or hamlets aforesaid, from a great and heavy labour of continually visiting the aforementioned Parish Church of Almondbury, hoping to maintain, that they may more frequently offer the accustomed offerings at the Divine Services, and for the rest, may be free to attend the offices. In order that in the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Houndsley (Honley) aforesaid, founded and erected of old, the Mass, the Canonical hours, and other Divine offices may be freely and lawfully celebrated in a low voice by some proper chaplain or proper chaplains, the various vestments and expenses being furnished and found, ye may have power, and such men may have power, while however from thence there shall be no injury to the Parish Church of Almondbury aforesaid. To you, and your children and servants for the hearing, and to the Chaplain or Chaplains aforesaid, that the celebration of the Mass and other offices may be carried out, licence by the tenour of these presents we grant. May it be confirmed by commendation to our Spiritual benediction. Given under our seal in our Castle of Cawood, on the last day but one of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand, five hundred and three, and the third year of our translation.

The late Rev. Charles Drawbridge left a memorandum to 1507 the effect that this Chapel was built in 1507, and lasted until 1750, with alterations in 1630. No doubt when proper services were allowed to be held, the old Oratory would require alterations to meet the needs of public worship, so that practically it would amount to a re-building in 1507. Upon an old map of Yorkshire, published in 1610, Honley Chapel occupies a prominent place. Important modern towns, such as Huddersfield, etc., are not marked, thus proving not only the ancient character of the Chapel, but its importance at that time.

In the year 1527, John Ermytage (Armitage) assigned and bequeathed in his will amongst other items “4/- for Masses to be said for the repose of his soul in the Chapel of St. Mary, Honley.” This sum represented an important amount of money in those days.

There are no records where the money came from that was paid for religious services performed at Honley only from private benefactions. The Chapel being under the jurisdiction of Almondbury with regard to its Ecclesiastical affairs, Curates, stationary or otherwise, were sent from that place to Honley to preach. According to entries in an old Vestry book when they came on a Sunday, their expenses were paid, and if necessary lodgings found. From the few particulars which I can glean about salaries paid to the Clergy, they were not heavily weighted with generous incomes in those days. Mr. Morehouse stated in his history that the earliest mention of a Curate or Preacher at Honley was in 1570. The first recorded by Canon Hulbert, in his history, is the name of Rev. Robert Cryer, M.A., in 1575. (A full list of Curates, Incumbents, Vicars and Churchwardens to present date will be classed together at the end of Church history). I am also unable to say when the change from Roman Catholic ritual to the doctrine and worship of the Church of England took place in Honley Church. Old natives of the soil were not given to sudden changes. New religious alterations would be accepted with characteristic caution, and the changes if gradual would be slow. There are traditions handed down, that after the Reformation, Roman Catholic services were held in the Old Hall, in Church Street before-mentioned, and that a private Chaplain was long retained there. Mrs. Mary Kaye, St. Mary’s Square, who died in 1891, aged 92 years, (a great aunt of mine), often repeated to me tales of penance performed in the old Chapel. I cannot vouch if correct, or give dates, but I have heard similar statements from older relations. These old tales give an idea that Roman Catholic observances lingered after the Reformation. Mrs. Kaye, whose memory was a storehouse of past events, had heard her father-in-law give an account of his flight to London when a young man rather than submit to the indignity of penance in the old Oratory. This journey would be no slight undertaking in those days. Another account of a young woman who had proved frail performing another hazardous journey, is worthy of mention for its brave daring. To escape the ordeal of public penance in white sheet and candle in hand on Sunday, she left Honley the previous evening, and walked to York Castle (where her father was detained for some offence) with her illegitimate child strapped upon her back.

We have seen that in 1569, Sir John Kaye, of Woodsome, ancestor of the present Dartmouths, purchased from Sir Robert Stapylton the royalty of Honley, which constituted him Lord of the Manor. No doubt as time went on additions and alterations would be required in the old Oratory. Sir John, acting up to his responsibilities, gave land in the early part of the 17th century for an enlargement of the building. Am open to correction, but these alterations were supposed to take place about 1630, answering to the date given by the late Rev. Charles Drawbridge. In one of the painted glass windows of this building, were the arms of the Kayes. Canon Hulbert, in Almondbury history, states that a MS. in the British Museum (24, 439) records that there was an ancient inscription on brass written under this painted glass window. It is translated as follows :—

I, John Kaye, Esquire, and Justice of the Peace,
The ground of this isle doth freely release,
To joyn to this Chapel for ever and aye,
That people may have more room to pray.
If wicked laws come to pull Chapel down,
Then witness I give to the poor of the town.

A memorandum in the Town’s Book, written by the Rev. Samuel Brooke, M.A., headmaster of Almondbury Grammar School, whose father held the Curacy of Honley from 1720 to 1733, the word “Chappel” is substituted for isle. Evidently the verses were in existence at this date according to Mr. Brooke, who prefaces the copy of the verses by writing “Memorandum on the East side of Honley Chappill copied by Mr. Brooke, Aug., 1773.” The late Sir Thomas Brooke, of Armitage Bridge, also possessed a copy of these verses. Sir John Kaye lived in an age when religious reversions had been rather too common for his peace of mind, so that he secured the ground he gave against the meddling of “wicked laws.”

I must here make a short digression to record an important event in the annals of the Chapel, when the men and women dwelling upon the same soil before us, felt that their religious principles were worth fighting for. During the disturbed period of the Civil Wars, the inhabitants of Meltham built their own Chapel and withdrew from their worship at Honley in 1650. The erection of Meltham Chapel (for such was then its name, being like Honley a Chapel-of-ease for Almondbury) was due to the religious zeal of Abraham Woodhead. He was nephew to Mrs. Woodhead, who was a regular attendant at services at Honley Chapel, and was frequently pelted with sods when on her way to and from Sunday worship. Mrs. Woodhead was also the grandmother of the celebrated Abraham Woodhead, the supposed author of “The whole duty of Man,” and other learned works. The latter, in his early fife, was inclined to join the Romish Church much to his grandmother’s indignation. Mrs. Woodhead, on account of advancing age and infirmities, had strongly desired to “set up an habitation for the Mighty God of Jacob” in her native village. When erected, she was as energetic in declaring that she would rather see the Chapel burnt down than fall into the hands of papists.” There was not only close connection, but relationship between Honley and Meltham families at this time; and much interest would no doubt be taken by the former in the new building. Upon a brass plate affixed to a pew owned by Anthony Armytage, of Thickhollins, was an acrostic inscription written by William Crosley, of Honley. It was fashionable at that time and looked upon as a sign of learning to take the name or title of a person and write a line from each initial letter, so that the name was in a perpendicular fine. The following is a copy of the inscription taken from Canon Hulbert’s history:—

With building and temples some have seemed,
In former dayes their soules to have redeemed;
Lying in Lymbus, from all penal crimes,
Let into paradize; Yet these our times
In this last age, most men are far more wise
And yet much less devote; for most denyes
Meritts. But yet one faith by workes men tries.
Come see this building free from superstition,
Rejecting merrittes, voide of all ambition,
Of faith not worthy, wdtnesse few there bee
Such workes that doe, that men their faith may see
Let after ages celebrate his fame
Egregious praise is tribute to his name,
Yet faith and workes doe justifie the same.
A.D. 1652.

William Crosley, a member of one of Honley’s oldest families, was grandfather to the wife of Anthony Armytage, of Thickhollins. Holding the same religious views as Mrs. Woodhead, he was a staunch Protestant, and had a great dread of Popery, which at this time had again become a threatening rival for religious supremacy.

Godfrey Beaumont, of South Crosland, about this period gave lands and tenements situated in Meltham, Honley, Crosland and Netherton towards the maintenance of the Ministers of Honley and Meltham Chapels. His will is dated 31st March, 1672.

This first Chapel, erected in 1507 according to the researches of the late Rev. Charles Drawbridge, sufficed for the spiritual needs of Meltham, Crosland and Netherthong. From accounts handed down by word of mouth, it was a plain building with three comers, one pointing towards Meltham, another in the direction of Crosland, and the third signified the claims of Honley worship; least, these three angles suggested the idea to the villagers. (Netherthong at that time was not considered a separate township, being included with Deanhouse). This first erection was known as the “Three-nooked Chapel” or “Old Peg.” Its successor was also given the name of “Old Peg.” I have not been able to discover the reason, unless “Peg” was a local by-name for Mary; both old and new buildings being dedicated to St. Mary. As before mentioned regarding names of wells, the by-name for Mary is “Moll,” and not Peg. I have however heard it stated by an older generation, that sometimes the name of “Moll” had been applied to this old building.

Soon after the restoration of Charles II., that Act of Uniformity regarding religious worship was passed, by which nearly two thousand Church of England Ministers were ejected from their pulpits for refusing to conform. The Rev. Oliver Hey wood, who was Minister of Coley, Halifax, was one of the ejected Ministers who would not obey the Act. He kept a diary which is as representative of the daily happenings of that period as our present daily newspapers record the doings of to-day. A few extracts from his diary relating to Honley Chapel at that period will prove of interest. He writes:—

“August 12th, 1663. — Visited Mr. Dury, at Honley, who had not to preach that day, and the people made overtures to me, but it was in vain.” (It will be seen Mr. Dury was a Clergyman who refused to conform).
“July 28th, 1667. — I studyed after dinner, rid to Honley, being my first journey on my new horse. Lodged at Frank Sandersons.”
“July 29th. — I preached twice in Honley Chapel. God assisted me in a full assembly. Lodged that night at Abraham Woodheads, Thong.”
“December 4th, 1681. — On Lord’s Day came Joseph Lockwood a message to me from Jonathan Hanson, preacher, Honley, who being sick and startled for his sins, much desired to see me.”

Oliver Hey wood records other preachings at Honley. Also that when Mr. Dury and himself were at Shadwell, Nr. Leeds, “they were taken up by the Leeds bailiff without warrant.” Another entry, dated 1683, is to the effect that “Mr. Robinson, Vicar of Almondbury, a careless swearing man having married his daughter to the Rev. Dennis Heyford who was Chaplain at Fixby Hall, placed him at Honley Chapel, one Armytage dying having left £16 0s 0d. per year.”

Two extracts from the diary of Rev. Robert Meeke have been given earlier in this history regarding Sunday sports in Honley, and also referring to its hospitality. Mr. Meeke records riding amongst the crowd to find Mr. Philipson, but we must remember that Sunday sports were encouraged after the Restoration. An extract from Almondbury Registers records the marriage of this Mr. Philipson at Honley Chapel, which proves that marriages could be solemnised at this date, though for a long period afterwards, marriages generally took place at Almondbury. Whether this was due to custom, or that the licence authorising marriages in the old Chapel had been withdrawn, am unable to state. The present Registers of Marriages in Honley Church only date from 1813. The marriage extract is as follows:—

“December 27th, 1683, the Rev. Cams Philipson, Vicar of Almondbury, to Dorothy, daughter of Joseph Haigh, of Nether-ton, at Honley Chapel, by the Rev. Randall Broome, Curate of Meltham.”

Mr. Philipson who belonged to an ancient family held a freehold estate at Honley, and was a clever Mathematician. His will is dated 1703.

The Rev. Robert Meeke, writes:—

“Sept. 1st, 1689. Preached at Honley, it being a rainy, windy day, there were few at the Chapel; but bless God, he afforded me his help.”
“Oct. 21st, 1689. Went to Mr. Ramsbottoms to dinner, his daughter being baptized for whom I stood as a witness and sponsor, being requested by the father. Lord grant the child may have Thy grace renewing and regenerating; so that the benefit of baptism may be confirmed.” (Mr. Ramsbottom was Curate of Honley).
“Feby. 16th, 1690. Rose betimes, and being desired by Mr. Broome, I went to Honley and preached there from John III., 5, and Mr. Broome preached here.”

Archbishop Sharp’s MS., relating to “Augmentations,” states that for the maintenance of Honley Minister, Richard Horsfall, Esq. and William Walker, Esq. (Far End), gave in 1729 the sum of £200 0s. 0d. to meet a sum of £200 0s. 0d. given from Queen Anne’s bounty.

A public meeting was held in the Vestry of the Chapel in December, 1749, to vote that 15/- per year was to be given to the Rev. Mr. Croft who, at that time was Curate-in-charge, for keeping the public accounts of the Town. Evidently Christmas joy ruled the hearts of the parishioners at this festive season, and they were in a generous mood. Mr. Croft kept the Town’s books for four years for this magnificent sum of 3^d. per week to the satisfaction of the inhabitants, for they again held a meeting in 1753 for the purpose of highering his wages to £1 per year. According to entries in vestry book, Mr. Croft was a hard working Clergyman; bub even in those days of scanty pay, he was stricken with the fever of destroying the old, and establishing the new. No doubt he thought that the old Oratory had been so often patched, that a new building was necessary. A Faculty was obtained, and practically the Chapel was re-built in 1759. Most of the old material was used in its re-construction. Mr. Croft was chiefly instrumental in its re-building, and he lived to see the completion of the work. The cost was £1,392 0s. 0d., which was partly collected by briefs, and helped by voluntary subscriptions to the amount of £160 0s. 0d. This building was also a plain structure without a tower. There was a small copula at the West end in which a bell was hung. The Chapel contained three galleries or “lofts” as they were then named. These were known as “red,” “white” and “singing lofts.” The red loft was situated over the East end, the white over the North, and the singing loft over the communion table. There was also an organ. The pulpit was what was commonly known as a “three-decker” with an oak canopy or sounding board, and stood in the central aisle. The pews were of dark oak, many of them having been in use in the old Oratory when built in 1507, and were carved with that date, owner’s initials, etc. Upon the walls of the North and West sides of the building were two life-size oil-paintings of Moses and Aaron. The Royal coat of arms hung in front of the East gallery. The Parish Clerk was a conspicuous and important person in the services. The sales of pews were authorised for supplying remainder of funds needed for the building.

The selling, buying and renting of pews which continued in our Church until 1887, has been condemned as alien to modern ideas of worship. Yet no better way of raising money could be found in old days. Again, to obtain a seat in God’s house, there was no other alternative only by purchase or rental. If pews were owned and left in wills, like other property, or were included when leasing farms, etc; the custom had been handed down generation after generation. We have only substituted payment for a privilege in a different manner. Fifty years ago, not many wills existed in Honley in which mention was not made of pews. I have old wills belonging to my family, one especially dated November, 1790, in which my great-great grandfather left to his daughter (my great grandmother), amongst other property “a closet containing four sittings in the front of the North gallery of ye Chapel of Honley.” Another closet containing “three sittings in front of the North gallery of ye Chapel of Honley.” Another closet situated in “ye bottom part on the North side of the said Chapel.” My father sold the “closet containing four sittings in the front of the North gallery” on January 7th, 1835, and the receipt I still hold; so that the custom of buying and selling pews was the only recognised way of obtaining a seat in God’s house in those days. We have now arrived at the days of free and open Churches.

When the Enclosure Act of 1788 was applied to Honley Moor, a grant of land was given to Almondbury in place of the inhabitants having to pay tithes to the Mother Church. Certain dues however were in existence, for payment of which a Church rate was levied at this time. In August, 1789, the grave yard attached to the Chapel was consecrated.

The builders of the newly-cons true ted Chapel of 1759 not having had previous experience of lofts, now discovered that the pulpit was in the wrong place. Probably the enthusiastic Mr. Croft had possessed more zeal than knowledge. A Faculty was obtained on Nov. 22nd, 1793, to alter the situation of the pulpit. Crosland and Netherthong were opposed to its removal. This opposition was the beginning of a long contention between the three townships which lasted over a hundred years, — when at Honley Feast free fights were indulged in between natives of the three townships in memory of the old religious feud. To escape the watchfulness of Netherthong and Crosland sentinels, the pulpit was secretly removed during the night-time, and placed against the wall on the North side of the Chapel. Netherthong and Crosland went to law. Litigations commenced at York in 1793, and extended over many years. Extracts from the old Parish Book will explain their nature which according to modern ideas might seem of a pitiful character. But our forefathers in the village did not trifle with concessions, either religious or political.

Persons accustomed to present-day forms of orderly worship, might deem the devotional services in use in the 1753 Chapel irreverent. On the other hand, what would be the thoughts of men and women of a past generation if they could return, and see the changes in religious worship since their day? The services in the old Chapel were not only characteristic of the period, but considered as orthodox as at present; and the worshippers would not be conscious of any shortcomings. Those who gathered there, Sunday after Sunday, heard the same words, and repeated the same prayers as ourselves; not the less earnestly if breathed from a square pew adorned with an owner’s name, and fastened with a padlock if necessary. (A native of the soil valued his independency even in religious worship).

The Church rate previously named appears in regular payments until 1834. Mr. Thomas Leigh, who was Chapelwarden, records in 1806, that the Church rate paid to Almondbury was previous to that date 2/- in the £. He writes that a little later it was 1/- in the £. I can find no other mention of rate being paid until November 6th, 1834, when from a memorandum its payment had lapsed.

It was the custom to have a “great sing” upon Honley Feast Sunday, when the Chapel was not only filled to overflowing, but listeners crowded graveyard and street. When the Rev. Charles Drawbridge became Incumbent these “great sings,” which had been held for a long period were discontinued. The religious feelings of worshippers in Honley Chapel were not only expressed in hymns, but the English version of the Psalms by Sternhold and Hopkins was also in use, and continued to be sung in Honley Church during my recollection. When a few advanced individuals thirsted for novelties in the shape of a new version, composed by Nahum Tate, the then Poet Laureate, and set to music by Brady, there were disturbances. Many musical warfares were fought out in the high singing gallery with regard to old and new versions; for musical harmony is highly susceptible to discord. Another old custom observed in the Chapel was the singing of Luther’s hymn at the death of a member of the congregation. Mr. James France, who at that time was a well-known performer upon the trumpet, blew three loud blasts upon the instrument at the end of each verse. The singing of Luther’s hymn, and the blasts from the trumpet generally produced a great effect upon the congregation.

This second Chapel, of 1759, must not have been very substantial. According to entries in vestry book in the handwriting of Mr. Drawbridge, it required repairs in 1825, and at that time new pews replaced the old in the bottom of the building. Two important events occurred also about this period. Crosland and Netherthong following the example of Meltham erected their own Churches. When finished, Crosland withdrew from worship at Honley in 1828, and Netherthong in 1830. Mr. Chantrell, of Leeds, an eminent Church Architect of that time, advised in 1830 the entire re-construction of Honley Chapel. His suggestions however were not carried out until twelve years later. On Sunday, January 9th, 1842, a large congregation assembled for the last time in the old building, Mr. Drawbridge, who had officiated as Curate for 19 years, preaching from Psalm XXXVI., 8th verse. He writes that the occasion was felt to be a very solemn one by the congregation assembled, and that on the following Monday, January 10th, 1842, the contractors entered the building and “began dismantling and throwing down.” The old names of “Three nooked Chapel” and “Old Peg” also shared the same fate. Henceforth, the new building would be known as St. Mary’s Church to future generations.

The present and third edifice was built upon the same foundation as previous structures at a cost of over £4,000 0s. 0d. The foundation stone was laid by the late Mr. Thomas Brooke, Northgate House, on February 14th, 1843. The Rev. Hugh Stowell, of Manchester, and the Rev. J. Bateman, Vicar of Huddersfield, preached the two opening sermons. The Rev. C. Drawbridge preached the first Sunday sermon. The new Church arose to its completion amidst many difficulties, and it was due to the diligence and ability of Mr. James Stocks, Churchwarden, that it was brought safely through its troubles. The following are a list of the donors, their names recalling good Churchmen of a past day.

£ s. d.
William Brooke, Esq. 500 0 0
Miss Mary Anne Armitage 500 0 0
Ripon Diocesan Church Building Society 400 0 0
The Right Hon. William Earl of Dartmouth 320 0 0
Thomas Brooke, Esq. 200 0 0
George Jessop, Esq. 150 0 0
Mrs. John Allen 100 0 0
John Brooke, Esq. (brother to above) 50 0 0
George Beaumont, Esq. 50 0 0
Mrs. Waddington 50 0 0
James Stocks, Esq. 30 0 0
Honley Co-operative Society 24 5 0
Mr. Charles Brook, Mr. Edward Brook, Mr. Enoch Vickerman, Mr. Leigh, and Mr. Edward Lees, Surgeon, each £20 100 0 0
Godfrey Drake, Esq. 10 10 0
Miss Brooke, Miss E. Brooke, Mr. B. L. Shaw, Mr. William Wilkinson, Mr. Benjamin Mellor, Mr. Joseph Haigh, Mr. John Dyson, Mr. Thomas Dyson, and Mr. Wm. Leigh Brook, each £10 90 0 0
Joseph Kilner, Esq. 5 5 0
Thomas Schofield, Esq. 5 5 0
Mr. Walter Platt, Rev. C. Drawbridge, Mr. & Mrs. Tidswell, Mr. W. Green Armytage, Mr. Leigh, Mr. Wm. Drawbridge, Mr. Abr. Littlewood, Mr. Geo. Littlewood, B. France & Son, Mr. Wm. Bottomley, Mrs. Donkersley, Mr. Benj. Littlewood, Mr. Joseph Littlewood, Mrs. Eastwood, Mr. Charles Hallas, Miss Smith, Rev. Geo. Haigh, and Mrs. Wm. Leigh, each £5 90 0 0
Smaller Subscriptions 42 17 10
Received for Vaults 20 7 10
Bank Interest 47 15 11
Total 2785 6 7
William Brooke, Esq., made up the balance of 1434 11 8
£4,219 18 3

The building remains the same outwardly as when erected in 1843. Its interior, however, has had to pass through many ordeals in the shape of supposed improvements since that date. I will describe the Church when erected in 1843. Built in the substantial Gothic style, it has a square lofty tower 105 feet high containing a clock with four dials, and at that time one bell, which had been in use in the old Chapel. Inside, the nave is supported by lofty arches. It had three galleries, and the organ and singing-pew were situated at the West end of the Church. The Chancel had three large windows. Underneath were black boards upon which were written in golden letters the Ten Commandments, The Apostle’s Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer. There were also a Communion Table, and two antique chairs given by the late Miss M. A. Armitage, within the chancel rails. A large brass chandelier was suspended from the roof in the middle of the building which had been in use in the old Chapel. Candles inserted in its scones were lit when short winter afternoons closed in early, gas not being introduced in the new building. This fine piece of ancient workmanship was formerly suspended from the roof of the Parish Church of Huddersfield. After alterations had taken place in that building, the chandelier was purchased by the late Miss M. A. Armitage, and given to Honley Church. When gas was introduced, it was sent to Brockholes Church. When gas illuminated the small edifice there, the chandelier was sent back to Honley. It was next hung in the National School until electricity dispensed with its services. The Royal coat of arms was placed in front of the West gallery of the present Church, but the two valuable life-size paintings of Moses and Aaron which were hung in the “Old Peg,” and previously, I believe, in the old Oratory, were sent to the National School. When the enlargement of the latter took place they were destroyed. The Constable or Churchwarden’s pew was enclosed by red curtains, the present Baptistry occupying its place. The Constable staves guarded each end, one bearing date 1830, and a new one of the same date as the re-building of the Church, viz. 1843. There were two pulpits. Below the one in use for reading lessons was the Clerk’s desk, the Parish Clerk being still an important person in the services of the new Church. His name was Joseph Kaye. I have a vivid remembrance of his “Amens” and responses in that tone peculiar to old Parish Clerks. Free seats ran around both pulpits, which were occupied by the inmates of the old workhouse. The newly-erected Church contained 242 more sittings than in the previous building.

It is interesting to record, that the wages paid to skilled masons of that date who were employed in the 1843 construction of the Church were 2/6 per day. Many of these men afterwards became well-known builders and contractors, who often drew comparisons between past and present rate of wages.

When the present Church was re-built, it seems a matter for regret, that so few ancient relics from older buildings were not gathered together and preserved. Mr. Drawbridge aptly describes their destruction as “dismantling and throwing down.” Yet life-long experience has proved to me, that each succeeding Clergyman in nearly all parishes is fond of “dismantling and throwing down” the work of his predecessor. This custom of construction, destruction and re-construction might with advantage be restrained. Many of the inhabitants of Honley secured stones, doors, stained glass, sun-dial and other relics from the ruins of “Old Peg” during the “dismantling ” process, which at least was preferable to their utter destruction by cateless workmen. An old font, hexagon in shape, has been replaced in the Church yard. It is of very plain design and not ancient, bearing initials and dates “J.H., 1714,” “J. B.” “R. B.” “J.M.” The latter are the initials of the Incumbent and three Churchwardens, or Constables, as their proper titles would be at that date. An old sun-dial upon the roof of a house in Exchange is previously named. Some of the old Church plate is still preserved. On a large Paten is a Latin inscription which translated reads “To the glory and honour of God for the people’s convenience, and for the welfare of the Chapel of Honley, this piece of silver have the inhabitants presented, together with the rest, for the constant celebration of the Eucharist.” Upon a small Paten — “Sacred to God and the Church at the cost of the inhabitants, A.D. 1792.” Upon the chalice is written “Honley Chapel, A.D., 1754.”

Netherthong and Crosland having built their own Churches managed their own Ecclesiastical affairs. Long continued law contentions however had embittered the dwellers in the three townships against each other, which as we have seen found an outlet during the festivities of Honley Feast. When Crosland “feasters ” were returning home, they were wont to shout derisively when passing the new Church “We won you at York!” This pleasing retrospect of their victory was so elating, that when arriving at Mag-bridge, they tumbled the coping-stones belonging to Honley portion into the water. (The bridge divided the two townships). Honley in turn took the same trouble with the other half owned by Crosland, that often the bridge was dismantled and dangerous to cross. Time however dims animosities and feuds.

The graveyard attached to the Church was closed for burials on June 1st, 1856. Upon gravestones, and under covering of the Church will be found names inscribed that are mentioned in the Poll-Tax of 1379, and Hearth-Tax of 1664 — old names indigenous to Honley soil, and still represented by living descendants. Modern taste would no doubt condemn many of the quaint and too personal inscriptions engraved upon the plain stones; but these poetic effusions were hallowed, and their associations sacred to our forefathers. Previous to 1789, it seemed the rule to journey to Almondbury not only for the purpose of marriage, but to bury the dead. Whether this was due to the old custom of bringing parted members of a household band to be laid side by side at the last, or that at times the graveyard had proved too small; I am unable to state. There are records of burials of members of Honley families and their gravestones at Almondbury from the time of Dorothy Armeteg (Armitage), 1646, to that of William Brook, Honley Moor, 1886.

Many of the echoes from the old Chapel lingered in the new Church. One old custom was kept up by Churchwardens until 1860. This was leaving Church during singing of the hymn before sermon, and making a circuit of the village as in old days to see that all public-houses were closed during morning service. The services were broadly evangelical, characteristic of the period. The Parish Clerk still called out the number of hymn to be sung, and loudly repeated responses and Amens. The Rev. C. Drawbridge in his black Geneva gown and white muslin neck-band, would perhaps have been as angry at our present white-robed Clergymen; as they in turn would be shocked at the sight of the Calvinistic garment. The feminine element had not then been cast out of religious and musical observances, and a Sexton’s duties were reverently performed by a woman. The music in use in the services was in keeping with the robust character of the people, its luxuriance not then being pruned fco its present severe character. The Psalms were not chanted, but repeated verse for verse alternately by Clergyman and Congregation, the Gloria being vigorously sung at the end of each Psalm. At Church festivals, selections from the masterpieces of the World’s greatest musicians were sung. Favourite hymn-tunes were those taken from Cheetham’s Psalmody, arranged by Houldsworth, which admitted of solos, and then the Choir and Congregation joining in the Chorus with lusty force.

In 1858, a new organ, built by Jardines, of Manchester, who at that time were noted organ-builders, was presented to the Church by Miss Marshall, who resided at Northgate Mount, about this period. A large number of people assembled at the opening services on December 17th, 1858, when the clever young organist, Mr. George Allen Beaumont, to whom reference is made in “Music,” presided at the instrument, which served for fifty years. In 1876, Honley became a separate parish, and henceforth the name of Incumbent would be merged in that of Vicar. In 1878, the interior of the Church was considerably changed. Gas had been introduced which brought further alterations. Evening services were now held for the first time in the history of the Church. A wooden screen with folding doors was thrown across the bottom of the Church at the West end as a protection from draughts. A warming apparatus replaced the stoves, and a new system of ventilation was introduced. The total cost was £469 0s. 0d., which was raised by subscription. Mr. Thomas Farrar, of Grass Croft, who at that time was serving as Churchwarden, devoted much time and energy to these alterations.

Harvest Festivals in our manufacturing neighbourhood were not then common. A Parishioner’s meeting was held on October 8th, 1884, to decide whether to have a Thanksgiving Service or not, and also to take opinion regarding the decoration of the Church. A Harvest Festival took place for the first time in Honley Church on October 12th, 1884, when a large congregation assembled to take part in what to many was a novelty in religious services. Recently a Flower Service has been added to the Harvest Festival Thanksgiving.

In 1885, an exchange of livings was arranged between the Rev. E. L. Walsh, Rector of Arborfield, near Reading, and the Rev. John Jones who had been Incumbent of Honley for 21 years. The Rev. E. L. Walsh was inducted to the living of Honley, on May 9th, 1885. The Church soon experienced a whirlwind of changes which found the two Churchwardens who were serving at this period ample exercise both for mind and body. In 1885, two new bells and a new clock were added to the Church. The old bell, which had been in use in both previous buildings, was hung in the tower of the Cemetery Chapel. It had been re-cast in 1753 on account of its cracked tone, and bears date to that effect. The new bells were supplied by Messrs. Taylors, of Loughborough, and their cost was defrayed by public subscription. The large bell weighs over one ton, and the small one five cwt. They were dedicated to the services of the Church on October 25th, 1885, the morning preacher being the Rev. Canon Bardsley, Vicar of Huddersfield. The evening sermon was preached to a large congregation by the Venerable Archdeacon Brooke, the third son of the late Mr. Thomas Brooke, Northgate House. The new clock was supplied by Messrs. Potts, of Leeds, at the cost of Miss Octavia Brooke. The latter lady, along with Miss Siddon, augmented the Church plate at this time by presenting a gold and silver paten and chalice.

Previous to this time, Confirmations had taken place at Holmfirth Church. Now that Honley had been constituted an Ecclesiastical Parish, in 1876, Confirmations could be held. The first Confirmation took place on March 31st, 1886. This was a great event in the history of the Church. Bishop Boyd Carpenter, of Ripon, confirmed the large number of candidates, Honley at that time being in the Diocese of Ripon. Another innovation was the introduction of the weekly offertory, for which offertory-bags and alms-dish were given by Miss O. Brooke. Formerly Churchwardens collected subscriptions from a few members of the congregation for necessary Church expenses. For other special objects, collections were taken in Church. These latter collections occurred perhaps four or five times per year. With the introduction of the weekly offertory came the necessity for sidesmen. These were elected for the first time at the Easter Vestry in 1886. There were other changes also introduced, such as the Eastward position, early Communion, Daily Prayers, an Open Church, alterations in Church Furnishings, etc. Improvements also took place at the Vicarage.

An important event occurred at this time. This was the formation of the New Diocese of Wakefield in which Honley was now included. The Rev. William Walsham How was the first Bishop appointed, whose presence was so frequent and welcome amongst us. His enthronement, at Wakefield, took place on June 25th, 1888.

In 1887, the Vicar and Parishioners had a bad attack of the fever of restoration. A public meeting was held on December 20th, 1887, when it was resolved to carry out extensive alterations. A building committee was formed, and the work entrusted to Mr. Hodgson Fowler, Durham. The Church was closed on July 1st, 1888, and re-opened August 31st. The re-opening services were largely attended, preceded by a procession headed by the Bishop of Wakefield, who preached. Afterwards a public luncheon was served. At the evening service, the Church was again crowded to hear the Venerable Archdeacon Brooke preach. With the opening of the restored Church, the custom of buying, selling, and renting pews was abolished. The internal alterations consisted of enlargement of chancel, transparent glass in East windows replaced by memorial windows, a new pulpit, organ removed from West to East end, singing-pew abolished, oak choir-stalls substituted in chancel, body of Church re-seated with open benches, front of three galleries removed further back, abolishing of screen placed there to keep out draughts, improved system of heating, ventilating, etc. The mixed choir formerly occupying the lofty singing-pew was replaced by a surpliced choir of men and boys sitting in chancel choir stalls. The two pulpits and clerk’s desk were replaced by a new pulpit, the gift of the late Captain Jessop and Miss Siddon, in memory of the late Mr. George Jessop, and his two sons, George and Richard, — father and brothers of Captain Jessop. The panels of the pulpit contain beautiful paintings of the four Evangelists. A new brass lectern was given by the Sunday School Teachers. The three East windows placed there by the present Brooke family in memory of their father, are inscribed:— “To the glory of God, and in memory of Thomas Brooke, who died August 31st, 1859, the windows in the Chancel of this Church are given by his children in thankful remembrance of a holy life and example, A.D. 1888.” These windows were dedicated on November 24th, 1888, by the Rev. J. S. E. Spencer, Vicar of Wilshaw, a former Curate of Honley. The monumental tablets which had been placed in Church, in memory of members of Brooke, Waddington, Jessop, Drawbridge, etc. families, remained in their original positions upon the walls.

These alterations being on such an extensive scale, exceeded the original cost of £2,062 0s. 0d. (This is usually the case). Subscriptions, Bazaars, Garden Parties, etc., however, soon paid off all debts. One very successful Bazaar was opened by Lord Dartmouth, at Honley Feast, 1887. Another successful Garden Party took place on August 22nd, 1896, at Northgate Mount, when over two thousand people had tea in the grounds.

A stained-glass window was placed in the West end of the Church by the late Mrs. Brooke, in 1889. It is inscribed:— “This window is dedicated to the glory of God by Anne Brooke, in loving memory of her mother and brother, Anne and Benjamin Ingham, A.D., 1889.” A beautiful window was next placed at the East end of the South gallery by Mr. William Brooke, in memory of his mother. The subject is the Annunciation. The inscription is:— “To the glory of God, and in loving memory of Anne Brooke, who entered into rest, August 10th, 1889, aged 80 years.”

In August, 1897, the death of Bishop Walsham How took place in Ireland. To describe the fine but simple traits of the first Bishop of Wakefield is not my province in Honley history, but his saintly memory will live in the beautiful hymns he composed, when his lovable personality cannot be recalled by a future generation.

Electric light was first switched on for evening service in 1904 Church, on March 27th, 1904. In 1905, alterations and additions to Chancel took place, the Church being re-opened on June 11th, 1905. The Chancel had been re-decorated in ornamental but chaste style, a Tryptich placed over the altar upon the side wings of which are finely executed figures of St. Raphael, St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Uriel. Upon the central panel the Adoration of the Magi is represented. The paintings are of great artistic merit. These latter alterations cost about £450 0s. 0d., which sum was raised by subscriptions. In 1909, a new substantial Choir Vestry, and Organ Chamber were built at a cost of £604 0s. 0d., which was raised by donations and bazaars. A new Organ, built by Conacher & Co., of Huddersfield, was given by Mr. William Brooke and Miss Brooke, at a cost of over a £1,000 0s. 0d. The beautiful oak-case of organ was designed by Mr. Hodgson Fowler, of Durham. Upon the brass plate is the following: “To the glory of God, this organ, the gift of Sarah and William Brooke, was dedicated by the Lord Bishop of Wakefield, May 14th, 1910.” Dr. Fricker, the eminent City Organist of Leeds, presided at the organ at the opening services. A Side Chapel was given at the same time by Mr. William Brooke, in memory of his sister, Miss Edith Brooke. This consists of oak seating, panelling, lectern, prayer deck, etc., placed at the end of the North aisle.

At the beginning of the year 1914, the history of our Church must close. As the new is a continuation of the old under different forms, necessary changes will no doubt take place in the future as in the past. We have seen that the Church, whether under Papal or Protestant rule, has ministered to the spiritual welfare of the inhabitants; and the influence of its Ministers and devoted worshippers, both of the past and present, has made the world a better and sweeter place.


Canon Hulbert, in his history of Almondbury, writes that it is impossible to obtain a correct list of all Curates of Honley. The following officiated, though many blanks occur:—

1572 — Robert Cryer, M.A. He attests deeds executed by Sir Robert Stapylton. His two daughters, Isabella and Susanna, were baptized at Almondbury in 1578 and 1581. Sponsors to Isabella were Edmund Thewlis, Cecilia Thornhill, and Joanna, wife of Thomas Hepworth.

1582 — James Martindale, M.A. His son was baptized Aug. 12th, 1582, at Almondbury, the sponsors being William Armitedge (Armitage), Thomas Marsh, and Alice Wilson.

1618 — John Binns, M.A. He was born at Over Brockholes or Bank End, officiated at Honley 18 years, afterwards Holmfirth for nine years, married the daughter of Wm. Crosley, of Honley, his son, Christian, appointed first Curate of Meltham, who refused to take the oath of the King’s supremacy, etc. (See Brockholes history).

1662 — Thomas Dury was a Scotchman who also would not comply with the Act of Uniformity, and was supposed to be ejected from his living. Yet he retained his Curacy and was holding the living of Honley at the end of September, 1663. It will be seen from extracts of Oliver Hey wood’s Diaries, that the latter was a friend of Mr. Dury.

1681 — J. Hanson was a man fond of all sports and pastimes, who in his last illness sent for Oliver Heywood. The latter writes in his diary that this “J. Hanson confessed that he had entered upon a Ministry he was not fitted for, and being so startled by my preaching 12 years previously repented.” Mr. Hanson was buried December 27th, 1681.

1683 — There is no record in Canon Hulbert’s list of Honley Curates of a Rev. Dennis Heyford. According to an entry in Oliver Heywood’s Diary, the Vicar of Almondbury placed the Rev. Dennis Heyford (who had married his daughter) at Honley. He therefore must have been appointed either during the sickness of Mr. Hanson, or after his death, the date in diary being 1683.

1685 — William Bray, B.A., was Minister of Honley at the time when Godfrey Beaumont left lands to Meltham and Honley Chapels, signing the terrier bequeathing the same.

1690-1 — Rev. William Ramsbottom, M.A., was Curate from January 17th, 1690 to 1691. The Rev. Robert Meeke, of Slaithwaite, records in his diary preaching his funeral sermon at Almondbury, on January 17th, 1691 from Philip III., 21.

1704 — Joseph Lancaster, B.A.

1705 — John Wayds, M.A. He was ordained Priest by the Bishop of Lincoln, May 26th, 1678.

1713 — Rev. Stephen Carr, M.A., was ordained Deacon by the Archbishop, 21st September, 1707. Watson, in his history of Halifax, states that in 1703 Stephen Carr was “Schoolmaster at the Free Schole,” at Halifax, where his daughter Sara was baptized. He married the daughter of Mr. John Richardson of that place. In Northowram Register is entry of his burial on January 25th, 1718. His widow died in 1755, aged 90 years.

1718 — Edward Wareing, M.A., died in 1720.

1720-33 — Rev. Thomas Brooke, M.A. next held the Curacy from 1720 to 1733. The sermons of the latter, preached at Honley, are written in peculiar and ancient hand-writing, and are preserved by his descendants. There are records, however, of a Rev. Thomas Tatham, M.A. in 1720, Rev. Obadiah Porritt, M.A. in 1722, and Rev. John Wilson in 1724, acting as Curates of Honley during Mr. Brooke’s term of office. I am unable to say if these men were occasional Ministers, who were then common, who derived their incomes from contributions given by congregations, and performed the services for Mr. Brooke. The latter resided at Almondbury during the time that he held the Curacy of Honley, so probably made arrangements for services to be duly performed. His son was the Head-Master of Almondbury Grammar School, who copied the verses from the ancient brass in Church, for preservation in the Town’s book previously named.

1734 — Rev. William Croft, M.A., was ordained Deacon by the Bishop of Chester, January 16th, 1731, and Priest by the Archbishop, August 5th, 1733. He followed the Rev. Thomas Brooke to the Curacy of Honley, and as before noted, was instrumental in re-building the old Church in 1759. He held the Curacy until his death, and is buried under the Chancel.

1780 — Joseph Armitage, M.A.

1761 — Edward Hasleham, B.A., was ordained Deacon by the Archbishop, June 10th, 1750, and Priest by the Bishop of Carlisle, October 2nd, 1758. He held the Curacy for nearly thirty years, and was also the Master of Almondbury Grammar School. Previous reference is made to him in the history of Wesleyan ism regarding sending the Constable to arrest John Pawson when preaching; and also as the Author of a sermon against the Methodists. He lived on a farm at Honley, but have been unable to locate the dwelling. According to oral traditions, he was a well-read man of fine manners, but rather fiery and tempestuous when crossed in religious arguments. As representative of the Church, he evidently thought it his duty to discourage religious innovations in the shape of Wesley’s preaching.

1788 — Rev. John Alexander, M.A. was the Clergyman who read prayers when John Wesley preached at Honley.

1793-4 — Rev. Mr. Mason officiated at Honley.

1795 — In this year, an application was made to the Bishop for a Resident Curate to be appointed.

There occur the names of Mattinson, Stafford, Balmforth, etc., who officiated at various times.

1796 — Thomas Heaton, M.A. He resigned May 6th, 1802.

1802 — Robert Smith, M.A. was appointed in this year, and held the living until 1845, though suspended from officiating. He was known as “Parson” Smith, whose saying of “You must do as I say, and not as I do” has passed into a proverb. During his suspension, many clever and devout men acted as

1813 — Curates, notably:— the Rev. Robert Pickles in 1813, Rev. T. R. Winstanley, afterwards D.D., in 1814, and Rev. Peter Ashworth in 1815.

1823 — In this year, the Rev. Charles Drawbridge was appointed Curate-in-charge, pending Mr. Smith’s retirement, which did not take place until 1845, when Mr. Drawbridge was then appointed Incumbent. Gazetted as Ensign in the Royal Artillery and afterwards promoted to be first Lieutenant, he served with his corps in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo. Retiring on half-pay in 1820, he was ordained in 1823, and for over 38 years fulfilled the duties of Curate and Incumbent of Honley with zeal, fidelity and love. Rich and poor alike, all honoured and loved Mr. Drawbridge. A monumental tablet placed in the Chancel of the Church, and a large monument in grave yard, record the piety and zeal of this Christian gentleman with his many fine and soldier-like qualities. His wife towards the close of her life was unable to move about with freedom, and was carried to and from Church in a sedan chair, so that the writer, in addition to many other Honley dwellers, can vividly recall this once fashionable vehicle.

1862-4 — The Rev. Ed. Colis Watson, M.A., who was Curate of Almondbury, and had married the daughter of the Rev. Lewis Jones, Vicar of that Parish, was next Incumbent of Honley, and afterwards Vicar of Meltham.

1864 — The Rev. John Jones, M.A. was appointed Incumbent, formerly Curate of Kirkburton, and Incumbent of Milnsbridge. Mr. Jones, in 1885, exchanged livings with the Rev. E. L. Walsh, Rector of Arborfield, Berks.

1885 — The Rev. Ed. Lionel Walsh was inducted to Honley, on May 9th, 1885, being the first Vicar instituted since 1876, at which date the Chapelry became a separate Parish; so that henceforth Incumbent is merged in the name of Vicar.

1893 — Rev. R. T. Heygate followed Mr. Walsh, who left the Parish on October 1st, 1893. Mr. Heygate, who is now Vicar of Boston and Canon of Lincoln Cathedral, was Vicar until 1900.

1900 — The Rev. W. B. T. Hayter was inducted May 12th, 1900, and left June 12th, 1904.

1904 — The Rev. H. F. T. Barter, M.A. was inducted October 1st, 1904, and at present remains as Vicar.


Many blanks may occur in the list of Curates, also I have found it impossible to give dates when they officiated at Honley on account of these not being forthcoming.

1789 — Rev. Elkanah Hoyle.

1795 — George Mason, M.A., was appointed Assistant Curate to Mr. Alexander at a stipend of £40 per year.

1797 — Rev. Richard Foster, B.A.

Since 1840, the following are a list of Curates:— Rev. T. Schofield, Rev. J. Rogers, Rev. T. B. Bensted (Rector of Lockwood), Rev. Wm. Knight, Rev. E. Davies, Rev. E. Carr, Rev. Ed. Boyden, Rev. J. S. E. Spencer (Incumbent of Wilshaw), Rev. Hy. Sinden, Rev. Wm. Yates, Rev. W. E. Chapman, Rev. P. Cronin, Rev. Wm. Gould, Rev. J. T. Hall, Rev. T. Longstaffe, Rev. F. S. Thew, Rev. T. Haworth, Rev. J. Harrison, Rev. J. M. S. Walker, Rev. — Scadding, Rev. — Bishop, Rev. — Perry, Rev. G. D. Rayner, Rev. J. E. Gofton, Rev. J. H. Crick, and Rev. E. M. Dunning, etc.


The names of Constables who had to perform both Ecclesiastical and secular duties of the Township have been given to the date of 1844 when the Church was re-built. Afterwards the Ecclesiastical duties of a Constable were merged in the office of a Churchwarden. We have seen that Mr. James Stock was Churchwarden previous to Church re-building, and remained in office until the edifice was completed. The following are the names of persons who have since served as Churchwardens:— 1845-6, Godfrey Drake. 1847, James Haigh. 1848-59, William Wilkinson. 1856, William Wilkinson and Joseph Whitworth. 1858, William Wilkinson and George Wm. Farrar. 1859, William Wilkinson. 1860-64, Joseph Hirst. 1865, Joseph Hirst and Joseph Waite. 1866, Joseph Hirst and Geo. Wm. Farrar. 1867, William Wilkinson and George Wm. Farrar. 1868-9, William Wilkinson. 1870, Alfred Beaumont and William Wilkinson. 1871-4, James F. Lunn and Alfred Beaumont. 1875-6, Jas. F. Lunn and Lupton Littlewood. 1877, Jas. F. Lunn and Richard Littlewood. 1878-80, Jas. F. Lunn and Thomas Farrar. 1881, Jas. F. Lunn and James Mellor. 1883, James Beaumont and Geo. Wm. Farrar. 1884-5, George Wm. Farrar and James Mellor. 1886-1895, William Brooke and Samuel Jagger. 1895-1900, William Brooke and S. F. Newsome. 1900-7, William Brooke and Henry Mellor. 1907-12, William Brooke and J. Hoffman Beaumont. 1912 to present, William Brooke and Benjamin Eastwood.


I have no record of past Choirmasters in Honley Church, so can only give names of persons from my own memory. Mr. Edward Beaumont acted as Choirmaster at the time that a mixed choir occupied the singing pew in the West gallery. He was the father of the talented young organist, Mr. George Allen Beaumont. When a surpliced male choir was introduced in 1888, Mr. Richard Henry Hardy, son-in-law of Mr. Edward Beaumont, was the first Choirmaster. Mr. Arthur Theaker next undertook the duties. He was followed by Mr. J.' W. Tunstall, Assistant Master in the Boys’ School, who was appointed November, 1892, and still retains his office. The late Mr. J. C. Beaumont, of Berry Brow, presided at the Organ after the death of Mr. George Allen Beaumont. Mr. J. C. Beaumont left to undertake the duties of Organist at Armitage Bridge Church. Mr. J. Stacey, who at that time was Schoolmaster, filled his place. When the latter left Honley, Mr. J. C. Beaumont again returned to Honley Church and acted as Organist 22 years. The present Organist is Mr. J. W. Hirst.


We have seen from previous extracts the nature of duties undertaken by Constables of past days. Have chosen a few representative items from the old parish book which bring into clearer light various responsibilities which had to be undertaken under sanction of Church Vestry, and to which references in various chapters of this history are previously made:—

£ s. d.
July 31 To a treat when Marsden Organist and Singers came to Honley 5 0
Aug. 7 To Mr. Armitage for his journey to York 1 11 6
Dec. 25 Our Singers’ Christmas Box 5 0
Mar. 2 To Clerk, ½ year’s wages 7 6
Mar. 2 To Sexton, ½ year’s wages 4 6
April 4 Our share of a new surplice 15 8
June 17 To Mr. Alexander for his journey to York 2 12 6
Sept. 23 Treating Mr. Amerton, a fresh Minister 1 0
Sept. 30 Treating Mr. Armistead, a fresh Minister 1 0
Mar. 17 Treating Mr. Bellas, Minister 1 0
Mar. 20 Joshua Moorhouse and self journey to York to give instructions for having answers to Dyson’s allegations, Leeds for horses, turnpike and hostler, as follows:— 2 3
For one dinner and liquor 3 2
Coach hire from Leeds to York 14 0
Spent at top of Bramham Moor 9
Spent at Tadcaster 1 0
Gave Coachman 1 6
Paid our Expenses at York 2 11 0
Gave Chambermaid 2 6
Coach hire from York to Leeds 14 0
Spent at Tadcaster and Bramham Moor 1 0
Gave Coachman at Leeds 2 10
Chambermaid 1 0
Paid at Robert-Town for Dinners 2 0
A quart of Ale at Huddersfield 4
(Particulars of journeys to York, with similar charges, are numerous during the period when litigations were in progress between the three townships regarding removal of pulpit previously named).
Mar. 31 Washing surplice for one year 1 0
My expenses at Almondbury at Easter 1 0
April 1 Chusing new Chapelwarden 2 0
April 3 Letting Abraham Shaw Spout-making for Chapel gave
him in earnest 1 2
June 17 Pd. Chris. Sanderson for docking in Chapel Yard 4 0
Pd. for New Bible 1 4 10
April 25 Pd. as per bill for Pulpit-shifting 16 7
Chusing Chapelwarden 4 0
May 18 Pd. at my footing 1 0
Nov. 12 Pd. at a meeting of the Chapelry about 2 pews 7 6
April 1 Saxton for one year bell-ringing 9 0
Snow Shooling 1
Sept. 1 Journey to Netherthong with other Chapelwardens 1 0
May 12 Paid for postage for letters from York ever since
troubles began 1 17
June 17 To 3 days taking account of corn 9 0
Sept. 6 A journey to Mytham Bridge to notice a woman out of the town 1 0
July 13 Singers’ Treat 10 0
Nov. 2 To Almondbury with a town’s apprentice 3 0
July 18 One day hiring Militia 5 0
Sept. 3 Expense of bell-man for crying “Act of Parliament” for Army Defence 2 6
April 10 Myself and Saxton dining at the “George” 5 0
May 10 To bell-woman crying against profaning Chapel yard 4
Aug. 10 J. Donaldson’s (of York) bill for repairing organ 132 16 6
(There are other items too numerous to copy relating to organ repairs, amounting to) 50 0 0
Aug. 10 A Summons for Lockwood & Sons before George Armitage, Esq., to compel them to amend their work on the organ 1 0
Sept. 24 A pewter basin for Christening 3 0
Mar. 8 Messenger to Armitage Bridge for a certificate to sign for Recruits 1 0
Aug. 23 My attendance at Armitage Bridge to put out J. Bailey, Apprentice 2 0
April 2 Spent at Will Theakers by townspeople at attendance at Vestry to make me a chapel warden. Being a large party, they would have double allowance to oppose Crosland and Thong people 5 0
May 5 Journey to Linfit to consult Jonathan Sanderson as a witness in these suits 3 0
Oct. 23 Sent to J. Eastwood and Thomas Hobson, of Batley Carr, part expenses to York as evidence 2 2 0
Oct. 27 Journey to Huddersfield to engage Nathaniel Berry as evidence 3 0
Oct. 30 To give Nathaniel Berry backword that he was not to go to York 1 0
Nov. 12 Pd. Honley’s share for Robert Ludge (Lodge) making J. Haulkyard (Hawkyard) cloaths and trimmings 14 0
April 10 Paid Mr. Wrigley Honley’s share of Saxton’s coat cloth 15 0
Aug. 8 Post carrying a petition to Archbishop, and booking at Coach Office 8
Aug. 8 Posting a letter, describing J. Sanderson a deserter 1 0
April 23 Remitted to Lister and Lawton, the cost of suits against Crosland and Thong 214 7 7

(I have also copies of extracts from an old parish book, at Almondbury, relating to Honley, dating from 1782 and onwards. The entries treat of the same primitive mode of carrying on religious and secular duties of our parish of that date, and are similar in character to above extracts).


With the closing of the Churchyard, in 1856, came the necessity for providing a new “God’s Acre.” A public meeting was held, when it was decided to purchase land to annex to the Church as a Burial Ground. A representative committee was formed, consisting of William Brooke, George Robinson, G. W. Farrar, Charles Kellet, Wm. Wilkinson, Benjamin Mellor, John France, James Robinson, Samuel Drake, George Donkersley, Godfrey Drake, George Jessop, Daniel Donkersley, and Benjamin France. Subscriptions were collected, the total amount being £815 9s. 8d., and Nonconformists gave £127 5s. 0d. of this sum. The old subscription book is headed “A public subscription to purchase additional burial ground to be attached to St. Mary’s Church, Honley.” This is in the hand-writing of the late Mr. James Robinson. The Cemetery was consecrated on September 24th, 1857. Mr. William Hirst, of Town-head, was the first person interred. There is no comparison between the present Cemetery, and the first small “God’s Acre” of nearly sixty years ago. Since that time, the Church has loyally and generously undertaken the ever increasing responsibilities attached to the Cemetery, such as paying of Caretaker’s salary, upholding and beautifying the grounds, etc. Constant watchfulness has always been required on account of the exposed position of the ground. Additions to burial ground, improvements to buildings, new walks, drains, boundary walls, seats, etc., have been both numerous and costly. Important improvements took place in 1889. The road was widened near entrance-gates, a large piece of land added to burial ground, new boundary walls built, construction of new walks, drainage, etc. The whole cost of these extensive alterations was defrayed by Mr. William Brooke. The new additional ground was consecrated on September 16th, 1889. Another addition of land was given by Mr. Brooke and consecrated April 16th, 1890. On account of the sloping nature of the Cemetery, the roads and walks require constant attention due to our heavy rainfall. The latest gift of Mr. Brooke has been the defraying of the cost of asphalting the steep roads and walks.

Perhaps no other burial ground in the neighbourhood is so picturesque and well-cared for as Honley Cemetery. Its surroundings still retain much of their original rural character, Stones-wood having been re-planted and preserved at Mr. Brooke’s expense. Its ancient path, now made a good road, is highly valued by Honley dwellers, and aptly named “The lover’s walk.” On Sabbath days when the air is free from smoke, a grand outlook upon earth and sky can always be obtained from its elevated position; whilst in the quiet of summer twilights a multitude of thoughts may throng across the minds of visitors — “Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.”


Mr. William Brooke purchased the Commercial Inn, in 1887, he erected upon its foundation the present beautiful Parish-room and Caretaker’s house. The building is of 17th century design, and was built by Mr. Brooke in memory of his mother. The room was opened on March 30th, 1893 without any ceremony, and given over by Mr. Brooke for the use of all parochial work, organizations, etc. The building was placed further back from the street than where the Inn originally stood for the purpose of allowing a wider entrance to be made to the Church. Mr. Brooke included the ground and new gateway to Church in his gift of the Parish-room.

Continue to Chapter IX...