All Souls' Church, Haley Hill


History of the Church

In 1854, Edward Akroyd bought a Baptist Church in Haley Hill to provide a local church and burial ground for the fast-growing community in the area.

The Parish of All Souls' was formed in 1855.

In 1856, Akroyd commissioned a new church which was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott. Scott was chosen from a number of architects which submitted their designs to Akroyd.

The patrons of the Church were the Simeon Trustees.

Scott thought that this was his best church, and wrote that he could have made a better show if he had known at the outset how much Akroyd was prepared to spend. The cost was £100,000, and the site occupies 3,667 square yards. The Church was to accommodate a congregation of over 800.

Akroyd chose the site for the Church so that it blocked the view of the nonconformist Square Congregational Church from his home at Bankfield which had been built by the Crossley family.

The foundation stone was laid on Friday, 25th April 1856. The foundation stone was quarried in Northowram and weighs 2½ tons. Beneath the foundation stone, at north-east corner of the building, was placed a leaden box, containing a set of 1856 coins, a document describing the ceremony, and a brass plate with the inscription:

This corner-stone of All Souls' Church was laid on the 25th day of April, 1856, in the name of the holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, by the founder, Edward Akroyd, Esq, of Bank Field, Halifax, Merchant and Manufacturer, a Deputy Lieutenant of, and Justice of the Peace for, the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Charles Richard Holmes, MA, incumbent.

George Gilbert Scott, ARA, architect

At the ceremony, the Haley Hill Band played the national anthem, then Colonel Akroyd struck the stone 3 times with a mallet, reciting the words:

Thus and thus and thus, in the faith of Jesus Christ, we place this corner-stone in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost

Afterwards, those present attended a feast provided by Akroyd.

Old mines beneath the site hampered the construction of the Church, and required the tower foundations to be 13 ft wide at the base and carried up from 20 ft below the surface.

The Church was consecrated by the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Ripon on 2nd November 1859, All Souls' Day.

Near the entrance, was a mortuary and a Memorial Chapel built in 1860 by Edward and his brother Henry in memory of their father, Jonathan, and designed by Mallinson & Healey. The corner stone of the chapel was inscribed:

The Corner stone of the Chapel of All Souls' Cemetery, Founded by Edward Akroyd Esq of Bank Field. A Deputy Lieutenant of the West Riding of this county, and a Justice of the Peace for the said Riding, was laid by George Beaumont, Esq., a Justice of the Peace for the Borough of Halifax, on the 21st day of April MDCCCLV Charles Richard Holmes MA, Curate James Mallinson & Thomas Healey, Architects

H. Stacey Marks was later involved in painting and decoration of the Church.

To build the Church, Scott chose to use a combination of the local sandstone and Steetly magnesian limestone from the Duke of Newcastle's estate in Nottinghamshire. The limestone had been chosen because it was easier to carve for Scott's Gothic decoration. But rain-water running off the limestone produced salts which were absorbed as gypsum by the sandstone, causing the sandstone to erode. Over time, much of the finer carving disappeared, and the structure became unsafe.

In January 1977, a stone weighing ½ a hundredweight fell from the spire and the estimated cost of £30,000 for repairs could not be met. On grounds of safety, the Parochial Church Council closed the Church in 1978. Afterwards, services were held at the Shed School.

The vicar, the Rev Geoffrey Thomas, believed that money would be better spent on other aspects of Church work, rather than the maintenance of a building which was too big for the congregation. Engineers recommended that the Church be demolished. The congregation moved to the Church hall across Boothtown Road.

In 1981, the Friends of All Souls' Church took out the lease, some repair work was done, and a fund-raising exercise began.

In 1982, the National Heritage Memorial Fund gave a grant of £260,000 towards renovation of the tower and the spire. These repairs were completed in 1985.

In October 1988, the building was transferred to The Redundant Churches Fund.

The Church is now in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust who protect and maintain the building. The Church is not normally open to the public. It has been included on the list of sites which are open to the public on Heritage Open Days

The Church is currently [September 2013] open every Saturday from noon until 3:00 pm

A lodge for the sexton and the verger was built across the road.

The Vicarage is across the road.

A list of some of the Vicars of All Souls' Church is given in a separate Foldout

The records for the Church are held at the West Yorkshire Archive Service office in (Collection WDP78): Baptisms [1854-1996], Banns [1859-1954], Marriages [1859-1978] and Burials [1856-1941].

Things to look for

See All Souls' Church Memorial, Halifax, All Souls' Day School, Halifax, All Souls' Parochial Burial Ground, All Souls' Memorial Works, Halifax, All Souls' Church Institute, Halifax, All Souls' Verger's House, Heaton Hartley, John Holdsworth, Room at the Top and St Edward's Mission Church, Boothtown

© Malcolm Bull 2024
Revised 10:03 / 18th March 2024 / 12581

Page Ref: KK_14

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