Southowram Churches and Chapels

Southowram Churches and Chapels

A History of the St Anne Church in Southowram


The first mention of any kind of religious service being held in Southowram is the leave granted in 1442 to John Lacey "Lord" of Southowram Cromwell Bottom to hold services in a private chapel for themselves and their tenants at Cromwell Bottom Hall which included almost everyone who lived in Southowram then.

In 1379 only 20 married and 3 single people paid poll tax there.

Cromwell Bottom Hall area

90 years later the first Chapel of St Anne was built by the Lacey family and their neighbours. This was a "free" chapel, ie free from interference by the Vicar of Halifax - the people who built the chapel and their heirs were the ones who appointed the priests in Southowram.

At the time of the Reformation (1547/49) many "free" chapels were closed and their income confiscated by the crown. The chapel of St Anne was soon reopened and was still in use in 1604 when the owner, John Lacey, in need of money, mortgaged it.

The first definite curate of Southowram was William Ainsworth (1635 -1647).

Was this the original Chapel?

Here is the pen and ink and watercolour view of Briars Chapel, the inscription on back reads "a view of a chapel in the Briars, one of the 12 chapels in the Halifax district'. Signed W. Burgess, October 9th 1788.

The fixed income of the curate at this time was about £5 per year left by Nathaniel Waterhouse in 1642 and 18/- due yearly from the Cock and Bottle. For the cost of his livelihood the curate had to rely on the freewill offerings of the people of Southowram.

The church being in a state of flux, due to the civil war, in 1652 the minister at St Anne's was actually a Quaker, Christopher Taylor. After two other short term incumbents, a Mr Gamaliel Marsden was appointed chaplain but his time here was short. King Charles II had been restored to his throne and under the Act of Uniformity, passed in 1662, non conforming ministers, including Mr Marsden, were ejected and forbidden to preach. After this, the ministers ceased to be appointed by the inhabitants and were nominated by the Vicars of Halifax.

To return to the chapel, it appears that after several years after the building was mortgaged, John Lacey sold the old house at Cromwell bottom and a number of other properties including, presumably, St Anne's chapel. There were several owners of the St Anne's estate following, including the Crowther and Ramsden families.

In 1746 the estate was bought from John Ramsden by William Thopson. He died in 1767 and was succeded by his nephew Joseph Thomson who was recorded as being one of the trustees of the chapel in 1786.

It appears that the chapel building, by the end of the 18th century, was in rather a poor state and at a meeting in 1796 at the Southowram Poorhouse, ie was resolved that the chapel be pulled down and rebuilt in a more convenient position. Many people pledged money but, witht the Napoleonic wars intervening witht the plans, it was not until 1815 that the old chapel was at last demolished.

The foundation stone for the new building was laid on the 8th July 1816. The cost of the church was £3000. The field in which the church now stands was formerly known named "Little Butt", a butt apparently being a place where villagers used to practice archery in the middle ages.

The new building was finally completed in May 1818 but was not consecrated until October 7th 1819.

The Freeman family were great benefactors of the new church. In 1867 the chancel was extended in the memory of Henry Freeman, and they are thought to have donated the east window.

The organ was a gift of Hanson Freeman c1885 and the pulpit, made of Caen stone, was given at the same time by Mrs Wightman, nee Freeman.

In 1873 gas lighting made evening services possible and the peal of bells was given, in 1896, by Mrs Leppington, also a Freeman.

Information from St Anne's commemorative 175 years Booklet 1819-1994

In 1837 there was another subscription for the building of a church Sunday School in Southowram. The school opened in 1839 as a national school and George Darley Cosbey was the first master. Pupils were taught on a monitor system witht the senior pupils teaching the junior pupils.

Reverend Pumfrey and the Brownies

St Peters at Brookfoot

United Methodist Free Church, Southowram 

At the south side of the junction of Chapel Lane & Church Lane. 

In the middle of this picture to the immediate right we can see the building that was another chapel.

Around 1855, the minister at Southowram Wesleyan Chapel forbade preacher Charles Farrar to read from a number of circulars which were upsetting the Methodists at that time. In support, many of his workers withdrew their membership of the Chapel. This led to the establishment of United Methodist Free Church.

The Church opened on 7th October 1859. 

The building became unsafe and the Church closed in 1958 when repairs proved too costly. The society rejoined the Wesleyans [1958] to become Southowram Methodists. The building was demolished.

from Calderdale Companion

Methodist Church - Chapel Lane, Southowram

Saint Michael & All Angels' Church,

Southowram Bank Mission church on Southowram Bank.

Opened 30th April 1887. 

Sion Branch Congregational Sunday School, Bank Top 1888

Bethesda Primitive Methodist Chapel

Bethesda's Chapel can be seen in the background

Ashday Lane Methodist Sunday School

Southowram Bank United Methodist Free Sunday School

also known as Southowram Bank Board School at 79 Southowram Bank

In 1894, there were 113 infants attending [average attendance 84], although it had accommodation for around 200 pupils.