Chair of English Heritage visits diocese
Baroness Andrews OBE, Chair of English Heritage is visiting the Diocese of Wakefield on Thursday 12 July. She has been invited by the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, to see first-hand some of the results of English Heritage’s work.
After addressing local business, public sector and charity leaders in Halifax Baroness Andrews and the Bishop will go on to see works at St John’s, Birkby and Christ Church, Woodhouse.
Bishop Platten said, ‘It is a great pleasure to welcome Baroness Andrews to the Diocese. West Yorkshire has some architectural gems which are being preserved and developed for future generations with the assistance of English Heritage. It is marvellous that Baroness Andrews can see first-hand the good work that is being undertaken in the region’.
St. John the Evangelist, Birkby
St John’s was built in 1852/3 by the trustees under the will of the late Sir John Ramsden, on a site presented by Hon. Isabella Ramsden. The design is by the architect William Butterfield and the building was entrusted to Joseph Kaye of Huddersfield.
The foundation stone was laid in 1851 by Sir John William Ramsden, 5th Bart, a young man of 20 who had the church built in memory of his father. It was consecrated in 1853 and it is said up to 4,000 people attended the opening.
In the summer of 2008 thieves attempted to steal the lightening conductor from the church tower and in the process toppled the upper eight meters of the spire, which crashed to the ground causing extensive damage, especially to the south aisle. The subsequent repair, along with further investigations revealed that the building required extensive restoration work. An initial offer of grant assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund was reluctantly declined by the PCC as it felt the project was beyond the congregations limited capacity. In 2011, it became apparent that the East Window would be lost if work was not urgently carried out. At this stage it was agreed to approach The Heritage Lottery Fund once again, and a programme of work with their valued assistance is now underway that will secure this listed Grade II* building for the future.
Woodhouse Hall, now Sun Woodhouse Residential Home, standing on the Woodhouse Hall Estate was, during the nineteenth century, the home of John Whitacre, Deputy Lieutenant of the West Riding, Magistrate and Trustee of Fartown School who was born in 1786.
Whitacre was an influential and devout Churchman who, in the early 1820’s built, at his own expense, Christ Church, Woodhouse to serve the hamlets of Deighton, Fartown and Bradley. His altruism was inspired, no doubt, by his brother-in-law, Benjamin Haigh who in 1819 built Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield. The architect was Thomas Taylor.
The first stone at Christ Church was laid by Thomas Walker of Berry-Hill near Mansfield on 24th June 1823 and the church opened for worship the following year.
Later in the nineteenth century the tower was fitted with a clock made by Joyce of Whitchurch in 1892. This type of clock is known as a hand wound flat bed hour strike with a double three legged gravity escapement.
Plans are currently underway to restore the clock whilst a grant has been received to renovate and upgrade the vestry making it more suitable as a child friendly, community room.
Currently, some signs of movement are being monitored on the south side which has the potential to result in substantial repairs having to be undertaken. If this were to happen, the PCC would be seeking, in consultation with its architects, a request to the Heritage Lottery Fund for assistance in repairing this fine Grade II listed building.