A History of Rawdon

Persons Places and Prejudices by D. C. Willcock

Other Places of Worship

1

"Enthusiasm is a horrid thing, Mr Wesley, a most horrid thing.”

Bp. Butler

The Friends Meeting House

2

The oldest dissenting community still represented in Rawdon is the Friends or Quakers. There had been plans for a Meeting House as far back as 1632 when Stephen Marshall of Yeadon and Ann Grimshaw of Calverley (I cannot place her) had paid 20s. for a plot of land "lately enclosed from Common or Waste of Rawdon in a place called Benton Hill adjoining the lands of Thomas Hird and Abraham Bates”. This cannot have been far from the present Meeting House in Quaker Lane.

Quakers as such were formed by George Fox (1624-91) and were much persecuted in Restoration times and even, they say, after the Toleration Act of 1689.

They acquired a burial ground in Kiln Close, Dibb House Farm, Dibb Lane, Guiseley containing two plots, one 200 by 12 yards and the other 12 by 12 yards. John Overend was granted a lease in 1670 for a term of years which he released to Stephen Marshall and John Hird (see p. 18) in 1692. Marshall and Hird then conveyed to Jonas Butterfield (1645-1728), Nathan Overend (1657-96), James Frankland and Richard Hardaker. Most of this land was covered when the railway line to Yeadon was made in 1890 and the residue was sold in 1901, now forming part of the premises of Wm. Machell, Waste Merchants. All that remains is a stone saying "Friends Burial Ground”. The grave stones of Nathan and Joshua Overend (1660-96) have been removed to the present Meeting House graveyard.

As we have seen, Sarah Grimshaw registered Ivy House as a dissenting meeting house in 1692 and for a while services were held in a room in that house.

The present Meeting House was built in 1697. Most of the present site was part of a plot of four acres leased for a term of 1,000 years3 from Francis Rawdon in 1632. By 1697 the leaseholders were Jeremiah Marshall (died 1690), Stephen Marshall (died 1710) and Ann Grimshaw. They assigned the lease to:

  • Josiah Grimshaw (1656-1722) son of Sarah and a Clothier
  • Richard Hardaker Clothier
  • William Hollings
  • William Butterfield (1672-1722) Clothier
  • Timothy Cooper (died 1708) Clothier
  • Caleb Verity (1663-1739) Clothier

All came from Rawdon except Hollings who was a Yeadon man. The house, now called Quaker Cottage, and its stables, adjacent to the Meeting House had already been built and fenced off. Further leasehold plots were acquired in 1733 and 1791 and some freehold in 1816. As is to be expected it is a very modest building with a most simple interior. In 1729 it was lengthened by some four and a half yards at a cost of £14.16.6.4 Extensive repairs were carried out in 1837 and again in 1850, when £235.0.0. was spent on buildings to the rear. In 1989 woodworm and rot were discovered in the roof and elsewhere and £33,000 had to be found for repairs. A grant was received from English Heritage and also from national and local Quaker funds. It reopened in 1991 and in 1992 the old schoolroom was renovated. The tercentenary was celebrated in 1997.

The building to the other side of Quaker Lane was built in 1912 as an Adult School but was sold in 1949 to the Christian Scientists. The graveyard is said to contain about 600 bodies5 which account for its raised level.

Cragg Baptists

6

Baptists go back to the earliest days of the Reformation. Rawdon Baptists were a daughter congregation to Rossendale, near Burnley in Lancashire. The great apostles of the Baptists in Yorkshire were William Mitchell and David Crossley of Heptonstall, near Halifax. Rawdon was a mother church to Westgate, Bradford (1755), Bethell, Shipley (1759) and Pellon Lane, Halifax (1755) and thus "grandmother” to South Parade, Leeds (1779) and Farsley (1780). Obviously therefore Rawdon had a great influence in the Baptist cause in West Yorkshire even before the coming of the Baptist College in 1859.

In 1712 a graveyard of about 450 square yards was acquired in a remote part of Cragg Wood from John Gibson of Yeadon for 10s. The first trustees were:

  • John Marshall of Yeadon
  • John Hird of Yeadon (i.e. Crowtrees Farm)
  • Isaac Naylor of Clayton, Bradford
  • William Rawson of Heaton, Bradford, Physician
  • Major Theaker of Rawdon, Clothier

The site is to the south of Cragg Wood Drive behind the orchid nurseries. It is not easy to find even today and would have been even more secluded in those days.

No doubt it was chosen with that in mind. A plaque says that the site was restored and the walls rebuilt in 1912 at the expense of Sir John Horsfall of Skipton and Sir George MacAlpine of Accrington, both prominent Baptist laymen. The whole site is now completely overgrown and though I have been told that some further work was done about 20 years ago it is completely impossible to find, let alone read, any grave stones.

A chapel was built and became completely independent of Rossendale in 1715. As is well known, Baptists do not believe in infant baptism but practise total immersion for those of riper years and in the earliest days this took place in the River Aire. Later a well in Bobbing (or Bubbling) Well Wood, near to Well Lane was used. It must have been formidable in the cooler weather.

In 1765 the second Baptist Chapel was built in Micklefield Lane but facing away from the road. The tradition is that stones were brought from the first chapel and reused in its construction. A large Sunday School building was erected in 1884 and the third chapel was built in 1892,7 close to the second, but facing the road, at a cost of £3,700 (£35,000 today). The second chapel was then demolished in 1895.

The third chapel had a life of 80 years closing in 1972, on the creation of Trinity Church. After 20 years of increasing dereliction it was demolished in 1992 and the site is now used for housing. The graveyard has been levelled and grassed. One stone remains on which is fixed a sundial, which was on the wall of the second chapel.

The 1814 Poor Rate Valuation and the 1838 Tithe Map both indicate that the Baptist trustees owned "The Shoulder of Mutton”. This was not a public house but a field named after its shape!

The Baptist Manse in Apperley Lane was built in 1792 near to the school (see p. 38). There was a paddock attached in which the minister and his wife could keep a cow. The manse is now a private house. London Lane would obviously be the minister’s route to and from the chapel.

Wesleyan Methodists

8

As we have seen John Wesley preached in Rawdon Church in 1788 with the full approval of the then incumbent and it is said that early Methodist meetings were held in the Church School, indicating good relations. A Wesleyan chapel with a gallery was built in Over Lane in 1824, the land costing £467 and the buildings £1198. There was also a caretaker's cottage and a school for both Sunday and day school purposes. The school had cost £1,000 and was extended in 1867.

Greenhill Wesleyan Chapel was built in 1878 in a commanding position overlooking Leeds Road. The architect was W.J. Morley of Bradford and W.C. Forrest (see p.71) was a substantial benefactor. It was hoped to top the tower with a spire when funds were available (they never were). An organ from a chapel in Peterborough Cathedral was installed in 1891 at a cost of £418. There were seats for 400 persons and even in the chapel-going days of the 1870s this may have been overly ambitious, (there were only about 360 seats in the Parish Church). It closed in 1964 (dry rot problems) and was demolished in 1966, the site being sold for housing, though "Greenhills” survives as a street name. The small cemetery fronting to Over Lane, acquired by Aireborough U.D.C. in 1973 is now almost as overgrown as the Baptist graveyard in the Wood.

Primitive Methodists

Schism was endemic amongst 19th century Methodists.9 Primitives broke away from the Wesleyan body about 1810 under the leadership of Hugh Bourne and William Clowes, both from the Staffordshire Potteries area. They felt that mainstream Wesleyanism was far too respectable in both religion and politics and took much more radical lines. "Prims” or "Ranters” as they were referred to, built a chapel in Canada Road in the freestanding building (now two private houses) just above the top of the terrace. The east window can still be seen in the top house. The chapel cost £300.

Clowes visited Rawdon in 1830 and wrote in his journal:

"Wed. Jan 30th 1833 . . . Preached at Rawdon in the Leeds circuit and was thankful to be informed that the Leeds circuit is doing well.
Thursday Jan. 31st 1833 . . . During a part of this day I was employed in ministerial family visiting along with Brother J. Holden of Rawdon. We commenced soon after eleven o’clock and visited upwards of fifty families, I myself prayed in 51 houses in Rawdon besides discussing with people and talking to the children.
On ministerial family visiting . . . at first we had some difficulty, the brethren not accustomed to this sort of service prayed too loud and too long but by degrees we improved. Brother Holden accompanied me the whole time and fully got into the system, after this Brother Holden accompanied me to Horsforth.”

The chapel closed in 1867 on the building of the Harrogate Road chapel. The Rigg family, master butchers of Rawdon, were strong supporters of this chapel for generations and many Rawdon people never referrred to it as other than Riggs’ Chapel. It also closed in 1974 and the site was sold for building.

Woodhouse Grove School Chapel

When the school opened in 1812, a former stable was fitted up as a chapel. A purpose-built chapel, approximately on the present site was built in 1833 and replaced in 1887 with the existing building in a very Anglican architectural style. It cost £2,767.

Low Mill Chapel, Knott Lane

This was built in 1874 at the sole expense of William Grey (1820-90), formerly of Calverley, who at that time owned Low Mill. He had lived previously at Lowroyd, Woodlands Drive, and later at Well Royd, Knott Lane. It was very small and it is difficult to see, apart from his family and servants, where the congregation would come from. It was sold to the Yeadon Wesleyan Circuit in 1924 for £200. Private chapels not unknown in Catholic and Anglican circles were rare among non-conformists. It closed in 1979 and was sold for £2,500. It is now a private house.

Benton Congregational Church

This was built in 1846 at the expense of Henry Forbes, the business partner of Robert Milligan (see p. 46). Milligan gave the land. A manse was built nearby. The chapel was enlarged and a new Sunday School built in 1868.

In 1972 Baptists, Congregationalists and Methodists in Rawdon agreed to amalgamate to form the appropriately named Trinity Church and occupy the Benton Chapel. Whatever teething troubles there may have been, this has been a successful venture and an object lesson to other struggling non-conformist churches. The old manse was demolished and a new hall built on the site at a cost of £37,000, being opened by the Lord Mayor of Leeds in 1975.

The Brethren

A small strongly Protestant sect used to meet in Over Lane Hall. Again this is now a private house.

Notes

1. For the fomer R.C. Church of St. Joseph and Our Lady of Good Counsel see p. 51.

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2. For further details see ‘Quakers in Rawdon 1697-1997’ - Joanna Guise.

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3. These very long leases were an early form of mortgage.

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4. Archbishop Herring’s Visitation 1743 gives 90 families in the parish of which 12 were said to be Quakers.

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5. By comparison there were some 4,000 burials in the church graveyard between 1783 and 1984.

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6. For further details see ‘Rawdon Baptist Church 1715-1965’ - G.B. Wood.

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7. Arthur Briggs (see p. 48) laid the foundation stone of the third chapel.

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8. For further details see ‘Methodism in Aireborough 1747-1981’ - Stanley H. Waddington and Martin Rigg, and ‘There was a Greenhill’ (1975) - Lillie Dearing. As for the spire, it seems that three wealthy men of the congregation pledged to leave in their respective wills sufficient to pay for one third of the cost. Two of them honoured the pledge, one did not, hence no spire.

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9. See Slater P.176 for a scarcely credible story of riots in a Yeadon chapel in the 1850s.

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About

David Charles Willcock Born 5th October 1924 Died 22nd June 2014 aged 89

The content of the website comes from the book "A History of Rawdon" author D. C. Willcock published 2000. 400 copies were printed and sold out immediately.

Born in Horsforth 1924 David Willcock lived most of his life in Horsforth & Rawdon. The only son of Clarence Harry Willcock (Wikipedia entry).

With a keen interest in history the content traces the development of this quintessential English village. Whilst every care was taken in the writing if you feel that there are factual errors please do suggest corrections via the contact form.

For more general enquiries Aireborough Historical Society provides a fantastic resource. D C Willcock was proud to be its Chairman in 2000.

Additional information about Harry Willcock.

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