Parish Church
Saint Thomas the Apostle, Heptonstall

As a result of storm damage in 1847, the old Parish Church of St Thomas à Becket at Heptonstall was abandoned.

The new parish church by Mallinson & Healey – dedicated to St Thomas the Apostle – was built to the south of the old church and in the same churchyard in 1850-1854. The church is built in the Perpendicular style.

The published dimensions of the church were

Tower: north to south 24 ft, east to west 23 ft;
Nave: north to south 24 ft, east to west 80 ft;
Aisles: north to south 17 ft, east to west 80 ft;
Chancel: north to south 24½ ft, east to west 42½ ft;
Aisles: north to south 17 ft, east to west 29 ft;
Extreme length: 145½ ft
Extreme width: 58 ft
Height of tower: about 90 ft
It accommodated It cost an estimated £6,000.

It was consecrated by the Bishop of Ripon on 26th October 1854 and opened for divine service 3 days later.

There is a copy of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper painted by Guglielmo Gringaschi. This was bought by John Sutcliffe of Hebden Bridge in 1906 and bequeathed to the church by his family, Mrs Annie Elizabeth Milligan.

A north window of the Sacrarium with The Four Apostles is inscribed

In memory of the late RICHARD SUTCLIFFE, yeoman of this town, by his widow and sons, as a kind husband and affectionate father, 1851

There are Royal Arms decorating the church.

The 11-sided font and the 1810 clock were brought here from the older church. In the bell chamber, there is an inscription in form of a clock face which reads

TITUS BANCROFT, Maker. This Clock was erected April 1810. Churchwardens: JOHN ERNSHAW and Wm. CRABTREE, Heptonstall; DAVID MORLEY, Errenden; JOHN INGHAM and JAMES SHACKLETON, Wadsworth

The square tower houses the clock and 6 bells. The inscriptions on the bells are

  1. Tenor bell:

    John Watson, York, Thomas Mears, London fecit 1804

    Weight 10 cwt

  2. Coelorum Sanctis limina sacra patent 1748

    The sacred doors of heaven he open to the saints

  3. Vox mihi sacra data est, manibus me tangite castis 1748

    A sacred voice has been given me, therefore touch me with pure hands

  4. Huc properate sonanti mea voce viri 1748

    Hasten hither, O ye men, when my voice sounds forth

  5. Sum decor ecclesiæ, pinus ceu montibus altis

    I am an ornament to the church, as the pine tree is to the lofty mountains

  6. Given by contribution, Dalton of York, fecit, 1788

A brass plate records

This Organ was Presented, AD 1867, by John Crossley Sutcliffe JP DL of the Lee, Heptonstall

A brass plate on the reading desk records

In Memory of Matthew Sutcliffe DD, a Native of this Chapelry, and Dean of Exeter, in the Reign of James 1st

Charles Joseph Hiley was appointed organist.

On 5th April 1875, the Tower was struck by lightning, causing £300 of damage.

The graveyard – which had become very overcrowded – was closed in 1915, after Gamaliel Sutcliffe had donated land for a new graveyard in 1911

In the 1960s, there was some local controversy when moveable furniture – regarded as untraditional – was installed in the church.

Organists at the church have included C. J. Hiley [1866-1909] and C. A. Suthers [1909].

A list of some of the Vicars of Heptonstall is given in a separate Foldout

The records for the Church are held at the West Yorkshire Archive Service office in Wakefield (Collection WDP149): Baptisms [1599-1904], Banns [1754-1959], Marriages [1593-1986] and Burials [1593-1898].

See St Thomas the Apostle, Heptonstall: Graveyard and St Thomas the Apostle, Heptonstall: War Memorial

© Malcolm Bull 2023
Revised 11:16 / 13th December 2023 / 7101

Page Ref: KK_105

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