St. Johns the Evangelist Church, Cleckheaton

Built in Nineteenth Century: Built in 1832 A large stone Gothic style church ? Seating capacity of 400. A peal of eight bells.

A Brief History

In 1818, Parliament, thankful for the victory at Waterloo and being very much aware of the spiritual destitution of London and the manufacturing areas of Lancashire and Yorkshire, voted to give £1,000,000 towards the building of churches. St. John the Evangelist Church was one of these churches built. These churches were known as the “Million Churches”.

Built by The Reverend Hammond Robertson of Healds Hall, Liversedge, in 1832, costing £3,000 of the £1,000,000. The last of the “Million Churches” to be built.

The church stands on land given by Colonel and Mrs. Beaumont of Bretton Hall and the foundation stone was laid in 1830. In 1832 the building was consecrated or blessed by Archbishop Vernon Harcourt of York. The cost was £2,700.

In 1864 the nave was enlarged and a new chancel was added. The Chancel is usually situated at the Eastern End of a Church and is reserved for use by the Clergy and Choir, this area is usually separated by the Communion Rail.

At this time there was a gallery at the west end of the nave which was entered by a door in the tower, which can still be seen and which now bears a mural representing the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.

The organ, which had been in the gallery, was moved to the north side of the chancel.

In 1886 a completely new nave with north and south aisles was being built. The foundation stone laid on in 1886 by the Right Hon. Lord Halifax, can be seen outside the north-east corner of the nave. Consecration of the new building was carried out in 1888 by Dr. Boyd Carpenter, Bishop of Ripon.

This is the building which remains today - the only thing that remains of the original structure is the tower which lost its pinnacles around 1957.

The churchyard is now closed for burials but there is a newly re-landscaped 'Garden of Remembrance' for the internment of ashes following cremation.

The Features of the Church

Apostles seeming to follow the order of St. Matthew’s gospel, and the pulpit depicting the four gospel writers and Paul, the apostle.

1910 - The stained glass windows were installed

1929 - Electricity provided to the church to replace gas.

1944 - The bells were donated to the Church from the Right Reverend T. Longworth, bishop of Pontefract, originally intended to be a memorial to those who fell in the second world war, they became more a symbol of victory; 'The printed subscription list of the time was headed "St. John’s Church was originally built as a thanksgiving for the deliverance of this country from the menace of Napoleon. The peal of bells is a thanksgiving for our deliverance from the menace of Hitler".

1949 - A war memorial finally dedicated on Remembrance Day - the red sanctuary lamp in front of the high altar.

1952 - The Sacrement in the Lady Chapel was reserved and the aumbry was fixed into the wall. The purpose of this is to allow the Holy Sacrement of Our Lord’s Body and Blood to be kept there for those requiring it urgently, and those who make their communion at home through illness or infirmity.

A striking change was made to the exterior when the pinnacles on the tower were removed after 125 on position, as they were deemed to be in dangerous condition due to extreme weather and industrial pollution.

1960 – The Parschal Candle - an Easter candle was introduced, which is longer than usual, standing in it’s own candlestick either near the altar or in front of the screen, representing the Risen Christ during the days of Easter.

Towards the end of 1960, the congregation was expected to begin to contribute money to the Church in order to assist in the running of the Church.

1967 - Clean up of the Church yard organised, as almost 4000 headstones and kerbstones had accumulated and caused problems in the up-keep, the church yard was cleared of certain stones and a section was set aside for the burial of cremated remains.

1967-1975 -a more modern altar replaced the original and other furnishings, including a chair for the priest and a credence table was given by Thompson of Kilburn

1977 -Amplification system introduced to the Church.

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St. Johns the Evangelist Church, Cleckheaton

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