The United Benefice of Heckmondwike (with Norristhorpe) and  Liversedge

© 2014 The United Benefice of Heckmondwike (with Norristhorpe) and Liversedge.

The Parochial Church Council Of The Ecclesiastical Parish Of St James, Heckmondwike with All Souls, Norristhorpe is a charity registered in England and Wales (1152319).

The Parochial Church Council Of The Ecclesiastical Parish Of Christ Church, Liversedge is a charity registered in England and Wales (1157990).

A Brief History of All Souls' Mission Church

The history of the Mission Church of All Souls and of the district of Norristhorpe in general is of great interest.

In 1409 Richard de Liversedge was Vicar of Birstall.  Dame Alice, his wife, who seems to have been a very devout woman, had an Oratory or private Chapel in Liversedge Hall (opposite the present Church).  She obtained permission from Archbishop Booth to use this for one year.  This period was later extended.

The Chapel was in the west wing of the Hall, where one could see a curious window, formed by four uniting circular compartments and surrounded by a ring on the wall.

The Chapel has now been made into cottages, and there is little remaining to suggest its ancient use, except that in one corner there is a perpendicular two-light window, on the upper part of which has some good carving.

It is recorded that at least one marriage was solemnised there - that of Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Robert Neville, to Richard Beaumont, heir of Whitley, performed by the Vicar of Birstall in 1502.

Sir John was the last of the Nevilles.  During the Reformation he embraced Protestantism nominally, under strong compulsion, but the mode of worship at his Chapel was very slightly changed.  Even this nominal adherence to the Reformed Church was given up after a visit to Sir John by Dr Robinson, a Roman Catholic priest who was a celebrated casuist, and Sir John was once more brought within the Romanist fold –from which he had never far wandered. Notwithstanding the heavy penalties that were inflicted on such offenders, Sir John continued to have Mass celebrated in the Chapel far into the reign of Queen Elizabeth.  Things came to a climax in 1569 when a conspiracy was hatched in the Chapel of Liversedge Hall by Sir John Neville for displacing Queen Elizabeth and putting the Romanist Mary Queen of Scots on the throne.  After being beaten by Elizabeth's army Sir John fled to Flanders and he was declared a traitor.  His possessions were forfeited to the Crown.  Lady Neville and her ten children were turned out of the Hall and the Chapel probably closed for the time being.  It was opened again by the Carey’s who rented the Hall from the Crown.

The Chapel continued to be in use right up to the time of George I.

In more recent years the Hall has suffered badly from at least two fires, and it is believed that some of the old oak found its way to Dewsbury Parish Church, where presumably it still is.

The foundation stone of the present Mission Church was laid on the 24th March 1888, by Mr M. S. Sharp, of Heckmondwike.  It was built and furnished at a cost of about £800 through the instrumentality of Rev’d J. W. Nixon, Vicar of Roberttown, who had been holding services and a Sunday School in Liversedge Hall since the previous year.  Mr and Mrs Wheatley Balme were the chief contributors to the new Church, and Mrs Balme also gave a full set of Communion plate.  The pulpit and font were given by Mrs Kelley, and the Prayer desk by Mrs George Hirst.  Other gifts were received from various local people.  Mr W. Ellis, of Heckmondwike, was the architect.

A licence was issued on the 21st July 1888 by the Right Reverend William Walshaw How, Bishop of Wakefield, to the Rev’d John Nixon, granting permission to celebrate Holy Communion, preach and conduct Matins and Evensong in the Mission Church.

The opening service took place in the afternoon of Thursday, 16th August 1888, at which many of the neighbouring clergy were present, and Dr Gott (the Dean of Worcester) preached the sermon.  In the evening there was a second service conducted by the Rev’d Townroe, who also preached the sermon.

All Souls' Church was transferred from the parish of Roberttown to the parish of Heckmondwike by an Order of His Majesty in Council, on the 21st December 1933 when the Rev’d J. C. Longbottom was Vicar of Heckmondwike.