West Riding of Yorkshire

Haworth Church, West Riding of Yorkshire

As is often the case, there is no definite date for construction of the first religious structure here in Haworth. The first mention of a Chapel dates to 1317 when a decree from York mentions the curate of the Chapel. In 1488 the Chapel was rebuilt, and the earliest surviving stone work (at the base of the tower) dates from this period.

The Chapel became a church but stayed around this size for many centuries. The population of Haworth remained small until the 18th Century. In 1742 the curate was William Grimshaw who was known to have left the church to drag men from the pubs around Haworth to attend services – local legends say he even used a whip to encourage them! His reputation garnered massive congregations of 500 or more and in 1755 it was decided to enlarge the Church to accommodate this.

In 1820 Patrick Brontė arrived in Haworth to become parish priest and he moved to the nearby Parsonage with his family. Brontė baptised 290 people a year, but the mortality rate was so high that he performed over 100 funerals a year. The graveyard at the church contains around 42,000 burials. Patrick lost his wife in 1821 and his second daughter in 1825. In 1845 Arthur Bell Nicholls arrived and became curate as Patrick Brontė’s eyesight began to fail. In 1848 both Bramwell and Emily Brontė died and the following year Anne also died. Nicholls married Charlotte Brontė in 1854 but the following year she died, the last of Patrick’s children. Patrick lived to 1861.

In 1879 a decision was made to demolish the church and rebuild. By this time the fame of the Brontės had spread and there was a national outcry. As a consequence of this the Parsonage was saved, but the church was declared unsafe and so it was demolished. On Christmas Day 1879 the foundation stone of the current church was laid. Some remnants of the original church survived and are now housed in the 1964 Brontė Memorial Chapel within the Church.

The Church today is one of the places of pilgrimage from Brontė fans from across the world and one of the many spots in the pretty village of Haworth worthy of visiting.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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