THE ECCLESIASTICAL PARISH OF THORNTON-IN-CRAVEN

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THE ECCLESIASTICAL PARISH OF THORNTON-IN-CRAVEN

Post by Stanley » 17 Nov 2015, 04:08

I think we lost this when the site went down.

THE ECCLESIASTICAL PARISH OF THORNTON-IN-CRAVEN
Posted on: 27 March 2006 Message:
Earby Through 60 Years (17)

THE ECCLESIASTICAL PARISH OF THORNTON-IN-CRAVEN
(by John Hartley) Craven Herald 24/03/1939

Until comparatively recent years there has been something unique about the position of the Church of England in Earby. The ancient parish of Thornton-in-Craven was an extensive one, containing three good-sized villages, Thornton, Earby and Kelbrook, with the hamlet Harden, and extended to the Lancashire border, about two miles distant from Colne. The Parish Church was situated at Thornton, which gave its name to the township, and until the two larger villages of Earby and Kelbrook were constituted an urban area they had no standing in local government. When the Parish Councils were constituted by Act of Parliament, the local Council was named "Thornton-in-Craven," and the same procedure applied to the School Board. The Parish Church, too, was difficult of access from the other villages in the parish, especially before the construction of the turnpike road in the valley from' Skipton to Colne. Previously, the roads into Earby and Kelbrook branched off the old mountain road over by Pinhaw, and from Earby to Thornton there was a causeway and a narrow road called Kirk Lane. There was also a footpath from Earby to Thornton village, and another path to Thornton Church. From Earby to Colne there was a lower road, which went by Moor Hall, Bawhead, Kelbrook, and Higher Stone Trough, and Colne was the market town. After the impoverishment of the country following the Napoleonic wars, and the distress caused by the introduction of machinery, a marked improvement in the condition of the people occurred about the time of the accession of Queen Victoria. Earby and Kelbrook gradually became fairly prosperous villages, while Thornton, which had once been a market town with a charter for a fair, declined in population and importance. With the opening of the railway in 1848, the road coaches ceased to run from Gisburn through Thornton to Skipton, and in course of time the hostelries in the village were closed. As these changes were proceeding, the Thornton parish was fortunate in securing as rector an eminently qualified clergyman in the person of the Rev. Laurence Stuart Morris, M.A. For a few years the young clergyman had been chaplain to Sir John Lister-Kaye (who was the lord of the manor) and he was presented with the living of Thornton-in-Craven by the eminent baronet. He came to his new charge with all the zest of his early manhood, and he adapted himself to the varying life of his parish with commendable tact and grace.

Rector for 51 Years.
The Church of St. Oswald, to which he was inducted, is a fine sturdy edifice, of the Norman style of architecture, and is reputed to be over four centuries old. It is situated nearly a quarter of a mile from the village, and only half a mile distant from the church of St. Mary-le-Gill, the parish church of Barnoldswick, which was double the age of Thornton Church. For 51 years Canon Morris, as he afterwards became, diligently ministered to his flock, not only in the village, but throughout the extensive parish. A few years after he had entered upon his charge a church was erected at Kelbrook (with a burial ground attached) by the generosity of the Currer family at Eshton Hall, Gargrave, which relieved him of a good part of his responsibilities. The Rector also established himself on friendly terms with the Baptist and Methodist communities at Earby, who, were indebted to the Parish Church at Thornton for weddings and funerals.

Canon Morris was keenly interested in the education of the children in the parish. At Earby the old Grammar School had fallen into decay through long disuse, and he was mainly responsible for its restoration and the appointment of a master. At Thornton and Kelbrook new schools were erected and staffed, which resulted in a marked improvement in the welfare and conduct of the parishioners. He co-operated also with his Nonconformist friends in ministering to the sick and the poor, and he was regarded as a friend to all who were in difficulty and distress.

There were also social activities, which brought him into friendly association with the people generally. The old Baptist Chapel had been converted into a Mechanics' Institute and he usually presided at the popular "Penny Reading" entertainment’s, which attracted crowded audiences. There is no memory dearer to old Earby people than the venerable rector with Joseph Wilkinson, a quaint old farmer, by his side holding a lighted candle and giving readings in the dialect from the "Clock Almanack," and joining in the laughter and merriment which convulsed the company.

A Coming-of-Age.
A notable instance of this catholicity of spirit is furnished by a village celebration on July 13th, 1874, when the eldest son of the Earby village Master, Christopher Bracewell, came of age. The event coincided with Earby Feast Walking Day, and after the processions through the streets the villagers assembled on the lawn of Green End House. A presentation was made to "Mr. Robert" by Canon Morris, who also presided over the proceedings, and he took occasion to eulogise our country as a land of light and liberty, where every man could live contented "under his own vine and fig-tree, none daring to make him afraid." A vote of thanks to the rector was proposed by the Rev. M. C. Pennington. Wesleyan minister, which was seconded by the Baptist minister. Rev. E. Morgan. It was the custom, of the rector to attend the bazaars, which were promoted by the two chapel communities to raise the funds for their new chapels and schools, and he supported these efforts with all the encouragement in his power. When the faithful and invaluable services of the Canon were publicly recognised by a presentation on January 25th, 1873, among the speakers was a prominent Wesleyan local preacher from Earby, Mr. James Brown, the village postmaster, who was held in very high esteem by the rector. Mr. Wm. Pickles, also of Earby, was in charge of the musical arrangements, and gave an address. Mr. Thos. Turner, of Barnoldswick, paid worthy tribute to Canon Morris for undertaking pulpit duties at Barnoldswick during the long illness of their vicar, Rev. R. Milner.

During the declining years of Canon Morris he was assisted for nearly four years by Rev. J. Porter, who served as curate, and undertook most of the pastoral work on behalf of the rector. On the termination of his labours he was the recipient of many tokens of appreciation, including a purse of gold, and an illuminated address. The presentation took place at "The Grange," Earby, the summer residence of Mr. J. G. Hutchin-son, the Bradford District Coroner, who presided and made the presentation. Mr. Porter, in acknowledging the gifts, declared that in his visitations he had found the people of Earby and Thornton were the nicest, most intelligent, and self-respecting people he had ever met. He had received great kindness from the other denominations in Earby, and he tendered to them his heartfelt gratitude.

Handed Over to Son.
On April 24th, 1885, Canon Morris handed over the pastoral care of the parish to his son, Rev. Lawrence Burke Morris, M.A., vicar of Birdsall, near Malton, and the living was presented by the father to the son. The new rector had also been chaplain to Lord Middleton for twelve years.
Soon after the induction of his son, Canon Morris passed away (on May 14th of the same year) amid signs of unfeigned regret and general lamentation. The new rector appealed to his parishioners to continue the good feeling which had always been given to his father. A few years later, the village of Earby was stricken with distress through the closing of the Victoria Mill and weaving shed, and three-fourths of the workers were thrown out of employment. The Rev. L. B. Morris presided at the public meeting called to inaugurate a relief fund, and he was appointed chairman of the committee.
The association of the Rev. L. B. Morris with Earby affairs was also exemplified by his chairmanship of the School Board and the Parish Council.

After the termination of the Bracewell regime, a movement was set on foot to provide a place of worship for the church people resident in Earby and, eventually, through the generosity of an anonymous donor, an iron church was erected on land abutting on the road leading to Thornton. The Rev. J. E. Gaskill, who had been appointed curate, was responsible for the plans, and superintended the erection of the Mission Church. The design of the building was Gothic, and the interior was varnished pitch pine. The accommodation provided for two hundred worshippers.

The opening service in the church was conducted by the rector, Rev. L. B. Morris, on Saturday, May 12th, 1888, and the sermon was preached by the Bishop of Penrith. Other visiting clergymen were Rev. J. A. Wilson, Rural Dean, of Bolton-by-Bowland Rev. G. A. Blair, Skipton, Rev. W. H. Hamilton, Broughton, and the Rev. Owen Owen, Kelbrook.
On the following Sunday the rector preached in the afternoon, and took occasion to pay a worthy tribute to the Nonconformists of Earby, and also throughout the country, for their zeal in the cause of religion. The Bishop of Penrith preached in the evening.

" Overflow" Congregation.
On September 30th of the same year the first harvest festival services were conducted by the Venerable Archdeacon Boyd. The congregation was so large at the evening service that many were unable to gain admission, and at the close of the service Archdeacon Boyd re-entered the pulpit and gave an address to the "overflow" congregation.

For twenty-one years the "iron church" fulfilled a useful mission, although the enthusiasm of its inception faded away to some extent. The Rev. J. E. Gaskill was devoted to his pastoral duties, and a Sunday School was effectively carried on with the assistance of voluntary workers.
The rector was very much interested in public administration work, especially on the West Riding County Council, or which he was an Alderman, and after serving the parish for twenty-one years he retired to Breckamore, near Ripon.

Mr. Morris, who was the patron of the rectorship, presented his charge to the Rev. Algernon Early Ayre, M.A., who had not only served the church in the pastoral sphere with commendable zeal and success, but, at the time of his new appointment, was domestic chaplain to the Bishop of Ripon (Dr. Boyd Carpenter) and lecturer at Ripon College.
The induction ceremony of the new rector took place on Saturday, May 20th, 1906, the Venerable Archdeacon Kilner being the officiating clergyman, and Canon Cook, of Skipton, was also present. The Archdeacon gave an appropriate sermon based on the parable of the Good Shepherd.

Mr. Ayre had been commissioned by the Bishop of Ripon to prepare and organise a scheme for the erection of a new church in Earby, which the rector found absolutely essential for the services of the church. The inaugural meeting for the promotion of the scheme was on February 28th, 1906, in the Albion Hall.
A suitable site was selected for the new church in Skipton Road, which was generously given by Mr. Hutchinson, of "The Grange." Mr. Ayre found a most valued collaborator in Mr. A. J. Birley, J.P., who was appointed treasurer of the building fund. Mr. Birley was also churchwarden at Thornton, and he has served continuously for nearly 40 years.

A Bazaar.
Promises were immediately made of over £1,000, and a further £1,000 was promised as it was needed. A bazaar effort was heartily and generously supported, and the event was held in the New Road Council School, on April 23rd, 1908, and the two following day. The openers for the occasion were Capt. R. F. Roundell, Mr. W. Peart Robinson, J.P., and Mr. F. G. Hutchinson. The hon. secretary of the bazaar was Mr. Stanley Watson, and the officials were supported by a regiment of workers.

There were ten separate stalls, and the entertainments and side-shows were of an attractive character, including songs and sketches by Mr. Foden Williams, concerts arranged by Mr. Fred Lord, and dramatic sketches by Mr, Edgar Wood and his party. The decorative scheme of the bazaar was in the similitude of a Dutch bazaar, and the ladies serving on the stalls and in the refreshment rooms were attired in picturesque Dutch costumes.
The general support accorded to the bazaar was exceedingly gratifying and the numerous sympathisers with the object both in the village and the surrounding district afforded much encouragement for the promoters to proceed at once with the erection of the new church.
Other interesting features in the support given to the Venture were the preliminary efforts made, which included a concert by the Barnoldswick Wesleyan Prize Choir, conducted and accompanied by Mr. Frederick Lord, which realised £20; a garden fete at the Thornton Rectory, at which the Earby Brass Band gave their services: and an organ recital in the Parish Church by Mr. Sephton Brown, the organist of the Earby Church. The total proceeds of the bazaar amounted to over £800.

The stone-laying of the new church took place on February 27th, 1909, and the corner stone was laid by the Rev. Canon Wilson, M.A., of Bolton-by-Bowland. The Earby Brass Band was in attendance, and led a united procession from the Mission Church to the site of the new church near the railway crossing on Skipton Road. The rector (Rev. A. E. Ayre) was in charge of the service, and after Canon Wilson had discharged his sacred duty, special prayers were offered for the successful completion of the work. A well attended tea was afterwards served in the Albion Hall.

"All Saints."
Splendid progress was made in connection with the erection of the church, the architectural designs adopted being submitted by Mr. F. Thorman, of Messrs. Bromett & Thorman, of Tadcaster. The contractors were as follows: Building, Messrs. J. Brown & Sons, Bingley; joinery, Mr. C. Watson, Earby; slating, Mr. Walton; plumbing, Mr. J. Jonas; painting, Mr, John Pratt, Earby.

The whole of the scheme was not immediately carried out, the erection of the tower and the north aisle being, deferred to a more convenient date. The part completed included the nave and chancel, south aisle, clergy vestry, organ chamber, and a large parish room under the chancel and vestries. The accommodation provided in the church was for 350 worshippers, in addition to the choir stalls.

The church was built of Heaton and Ackworth stone, faced inside and out. There was also a panelled vaulted ceiling in oak the full length of the church, and a fine chancel arch and dwarf screen divided the chancel from the nave. The large east window was very impressive, as was also the carving of the altar rails and litany desk.

The opening of the new church, which was designated "All Saints," took place on Saturday, December 11th, 1909, the dedication ceremony being conducted by the Lord Bishop of Ripon, in the presence of a crowded congregation. Other clergy men who took part, attired in their robes, were: Archdeacon Kilner, Gargrave; Canon Cook and Rev. R. Thorman, Skipton; Rev. Mr. Hind, Manningham; Rev. C. V. Brown, Embsay; Rev. E. T. Birch-Reynardson, Carleton; Rev. C. W.Hamilton, Broughton; Rev. D. R. Hall, Foulridge; Rev. C. A. Button, Lothersdale; Rev. F. W. Patten and Rev. W. R.G. Povey, Barnoldswick; Rev. A. E. Chance, Kelbrook, and Rev. A. E. Ayre, rector. Amongst the visitors in the congregation were Rev. L, B. Morris, and Mrs. Morris and Miss Morris, Ripon; Mr. R. F. Roundell, J.P., Mr. J. A, Slingsby, J.P., Mr. J. G. Hutchinson, and Rev. A. Shipham.

Petition to Consecrate.
The Bishop, attended by the robed clergy, passed from the vestry down the south aisle to the entrance to the church, where he received a petition from the churchwardens, Mr. A. J. Birley, J.P., and Mr. James Carr, requesting him to consecrate the church. After receiving the assent of the Bishop the procession passed down the centre aisle to the communion table. Suitable prayers for the occasion were offered by the Bishop, and after the commissionary had read the Sentence of Consecration it was signed by the Bishop.
After other devotional exercises the Bishop of Ripon preached a memorable sermon on the text, "'He that supplieth seed to the sower and bread for food shall supply and multiply your seed for sowing" (II Cor. ix, 10).

The opening services were continued on the following Sunday, when the rector preached in the morning, the Rev. R. Pattinson, vicar of Otley, conducted a young people's service in the afternoon, and the Bishop of Knaresborough preached in the evening to a crowded congregation, and many were unable to gain admission.

Thus in a few years the Church of England in Earby had a glorious renaissance and was provided with a sanctuary worthy of its mission to the community.
The Rev. J. E. Gaskill removed from Earby to Muker, in North Yorkshire, where he was installed as vicar, and his place at Earby was later occupied by Rev. C. W. Summerfield, who rendered very good service for about three years.

The Rev. A. E. Ayre worked very strenuously at Thornton and Earby until September, 1914, when he accepted the living of Colvy, near Peterborough, and later the living of Pateley Bridge, where he spent many happy and fruitful years in charge of that parish. He returned to Thornton-in-Craven in 1931, and he has endeared himself to all his parishioners by the faithful discharge of all his pastoral duties and his excellent preaching.

In the meantime the old parish of Thornton-in-Craven had been divided into three distinct parishes. Mr. Ayre was succeeded at Earby by the Rev. J. B. Atkinson, and the Kelbrook parish, which included part of Earby, from the Railway Station to Sough Bridge, as well as the Kelbrook village, was fully entrusted to the vicar, Rev. A. E. Chance.
The Rev. J. B. Atkinson has been a most indefatigable worker in the interests of the church, and has been unsparing in his efforts to maintain and extend the influence of the church in his parish.

Structural Additions.
The Parish Roof was enlarged several years ago, and was extended in front of the main structure, but owing to the contour of the ground the addition has not detracted from the imposing appearance of the sacred edifice. A large choir vestry was also erected on the south side of the church, in close contact with the clergy vestry. The Parish Room is now very suitable for social gatherings, and for the adult section of the Sunday School.
The vicar has taken great pride in the appearance of the church grounds, and the floral display in the summer season is very praiseworthy. The transformation of the ground by his own unaided labour is also characteristic of the enthusiasm which infuses all his enterprises. Since his entry upon his charge in Earby an endowment fund has been created, and preparations are now being made for the erection of a new Vicarage in the near future.
The enterprise manifested during the past 33 years constitutes one of the finest chapters in the Church history of Craven.
John Hartley 24/03/1939
Craven Herald and Pioneer 24th March 1939
Transcribed by John Turner March 2006
3223
jct
Stanley Challenger Graham
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