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St. Martin's Belfry 2011

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A few days ago I had the pleasure of talking to Mr Anthony Empson who works at St. Martin's Church, after a short discussion of what my friend and I did for a hobby we were permitted to come back to take a photo shoot within the Belfry in all its elegance dating back to the era of 1831-2 when the church was first built.

The church had seating for a congregation of 1100 people, Back before this date in 1818 an act of parliament was passed where £1.000.000 was granted to the established Church to build more Churches within England, 30 of these were to be built within the West Riding of Yorkshire and so St Martin's was given a grant for £3600 and built at a cost of £3.514 which was a very large amount of money back in that era. The Church was Consecrated in the year of 1831-2 by the Archbishop of York this was due to the Parish was in the Diocese of York and just 5 years later it became part of the Diocese of Ripon, and in 1888 finally the Church came under the Diocese of Wakefield.

For 12 years there was a Curate-in-Charge and it was not until 1843, when the church was separated from Rastrick and the Revd. Joseph Birch was named as first Vicar of Brighouse, that Brighouse became an independent Chapelry and Parish within the ancient Parish of Halifax.

The Revd. Joseph Birch left in 1862 and was succeeded by the Revd. William Booker, who stayed until 1890. In 1870 St James’ Chapel was built as a Chapel of ease to the Parish Church; this was a rare instance of a second consecrated Church within the boundary of the same parish. Hove Edge legally became part of the Parish of Brighouse in 1894 and St Chad’s Mission Church and School were built and opened in May 1895. In 1915 a new church was opened and the former building became St Chad’s School.

Now around the 1890's there was a significant re-ordering of St. Martin's so with the removal of the original pews and re-laying the whole floor, then reducing the side galleries. The chancel was built in 1904 and the church was closed for three months whilst the north and south galleries were removed and the organ transferred from the west end to the chancel.

For the first 100 years of its life St. Martin's was fortunate in having a succession of generous benefactors. In 1925 the Parish Hall and Church House were given by the Sugden family. These were sold in the early 1970s and the former Parish Hall now accommodates a Medical Centre. St James’ Church was closed in the mid 1970s after celebrating its centenary. A residential development known as St. James' Court now stands on the site.

In 1985 discussions were held to form the Team Parish of Brighouse comprising St. Martin's and St. Chad's. Parochial status was granted in 1988. In 1993 St. John's, Clifton joined with St. Chad's and St. Martin's when the Team Parish of Brighouse and Clifton was formed.

In 2002 work began on the most recent re-ordering of St. Martin's involving replacing pews with flexible seating, re-aligning floor levels, repairing plasterwork, installing enhanced lighting and a new heating system and re-decorating. A Community Area was created incorporating reception, kitchen, office and toilets. This area was named the Sugden Suite in memory of the family who had earlier been major benefactors. The work was completed in 2006 during the incumbency of Fr. Michael Wood and the 175th Anniversary of Consecration was celebrated with a service led by the Rt. Revd. Stephen Platten, Bishop of Wakefield.

Brighouse Parish Church has been a training ground for several clergy who have subsequently held high office, such as Bishop, Archdeacon, Provost, in the Church of England. That tradition continues with Curates and Students in training today.

The year 2011 saw further changes with St. Martin's, Brighouse, St. John's, Clifton and St. Chad's, Hove Edge each reverting to independent parish status. St. Martin's, Brighouse and St, John's, Clifton now constitute the United Benefice of Brighouse and Clifton under the leadership of the Revd. Dr. Stephen Spencer.

There are two Church Aided schools in the Parish. The former St. Martin’s School is now an Adult Learning Centre, the former Parish Hall houses a Medical Practice and a former Vicarage is now a Care Home.

The wooden structure is in excellent condition to say the least for its age with 8 magnificent bells hung in 2 levels all parts of the bell was examined (the frame, the headstock, the wheel and garter hole, clapper, sound bowl "lip of the bell", gudgeon, bearings although not original brasses these have been replaced by roller bearings which have to be greased, stay and slider) all again in perfect order.

Some of the bells are original and others are re-cast, I examined each bell for its makers information and all important date of manufacture which are as follows.

Treble----------Taylor of Loughborough----------Hung in 1875 and re-cast in 1913

2nd-------------Taylor of Loughborough----------Hung in 1875 and re-cast in 1913

3rd-------------Taylor of Loughborough----------Hung in 1875 and re-cast in 1913

4th-------------Mears and Stainbank of London--Hung in 1875

Presented by R Kershaw, Silk Spinner of Brighouse.

5th-------------Mears and Stainbank of London--Hung in 1875

Presented by R Kershaw, Silk Spinner of Brighouse.

6th-------------Mears and Stainbank of London--Hung in 1875

Presented by R Kershaw, Silk Spinner of Brighouse.

7th-------------C & G Mears of London 1845 ---Hung in 1875

Tenor----------Mears and Stainbank of London--Hung in 1875

Presented by Benjamin Noble, Silk Spinner of Brighouse.



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Up on the roof...


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