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Although a work in progress, there is a new document in About the Churchyard giving information about artefacts from the old church.

Our annual fund raising concert is on Saturday 21st October. Please come and join us if you can.

 

 Bob's latest poem takes us back to the Crimean War and the Charge of the Heavy Brigade. Visit his page via our homepage or press this link.

Mayors visit St Matthew's churchyard, Lightcliffe.

From L to R The Mayoress & Mayor of Calderdale, Ian Philp (Chairman of the Friends), the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Reverend Kathryn Buck (Vicar of St. Matthew’s Church) & the Venerable Dr Anne Dawtry, Archdeacon of Halifax.

The Mayor & Mayoress of Calderdale, Councillor & Mrs Ali, and the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Hussain were at the old churchyard on Wakefield Road on Saturday to help celebrate Cherishing Churchyards week and the successful completion of a £15,000 Heritage Lottery Fund restoration project.

Around 70 guests including the Venerable Dr Anne Dawtry, the Archdeacon of Halifax, Craig Whittaker and local Councillors had the opportunity to wander round the churchyard which dates from 1670 and has over 11,000 burials before hearing from Ian Philp, the Chairman of the Friends of St Matthew's Churchyard. He spoke about the progress over the past 3 years – headstones have been revealed, access improved dramatically, benches added as well as interpretation boards and all of the burials recorded and accessible on their new website - www.lightcliffechurchyard.org.uk. Several headstones, including those of soldiers who died in WW1 and Mark Dawson a former Mayor of Bradford, have been renovated and many family stories researched and written up.

Ian Philp began by praising Angela Monaghan who had had the vision and drive to get the Friends group underway. He then thanked everyone who had helped with the project especially the Council & its officers, volunteers and the Heritage Lottery Fund. He also noted that Bob Horne is probably the only Poet in Residence in a churchyard!

The Mayor remembered driving passed the overgrown churchyard and was very pleased to see it being looked after now. He spoke about the importance of working in partnership and the need for voluntary groups such as the Friends. The Reverend Kathryn Buck, the Vicar of St Matthew's Church, recalled that just as the Church was thinking that it needed to do something about the state of the churchyard Angela Monaghan had approached her with a similar idea. She thanked the Friends for their work over the past few years welcoming the improvements in the churchyard environment. The formal event ended with a short prayer before guests moved to St. Matthew’s Church for refreshments.

The Lord Mayor had come, in particular, to visit the memorial to one of his predecessors, Alderman Mark Dawson (Mayor, 1869-71).

Bob's third poem is now published - see our front page.

Batwatch: 9pm Thursday 25th May with Chris Sutcliffe, Calderdale Conservation Officer. A very popular evening with good weather and lots of bats!!

Cherishing Churchyards week. Saturday 3rd June onwards. Come in and look round. The Mayor & Mayoress of Calderdale are joining us on Saturday afternoon.

 We also have had an interesting surprise in finding that William Flather who is remembered on a family ledger stone & died in Scutari Turkey during the Crimean War took part in the Charge of the Light Brigade. Look him up in our People of Interest pages.

 

We have now, officially, completed our Heritage Lottery Fund project. Our final report & photographic record can be found in the documents at the bottom of About Us page.

The Friends are delighted that Bob Horne is to be our “Poet in Residence”. Bob was a teacher, is a local historian and a published poet. Look on our home page for Bob's first poem.

For the first poem of my residency I wanted to convey something of the history of the area. St Matthew’s Churchyard stands at an ancient crossroads, embodying all the folklore associated with the meetings of ways. Roman and British coins were discovered hereabouts, which suggests some sort of skirmish two millennia ago.

I have used early spellings of local place-names, the first two of which will be clear enough. The others are Upper Winteredge (near Coley Church), Woolrow (on the Calderdale Way between Bailiff Bridge and Thornhills), and Rookes Wood, Norwood Green. Estfelde Knowl was a field-name, and was situated to the east of what is now Knowle Top Road, at the southern end.

 Elland Flags is the sandstone, excellent for building, which was quarried at many sites in the old township of Hipperholme-cum-Brighouse, and almost up to the present day.

 

The Old Churchyard

Where four tracks met and parted

coins and blood were spilled,

silver heads of Caligula, gold Boudiccas,

in the world of neither here nor there

where the 255 Arriva cruises the turnpike

down to Baillibrigge and Clyftone Beck.

                         *

 Solace-seekers roam around low mounds of turf,

carved headstones of blackened Elland Flags:

two acres of the township’s departed, extras

in time’s tragicomedy, revenants

whose silence rings from Wyntersedge to Woleroe,

Rokeswode to Estfelde Knowl.

                         *

 Late winter sun over Birkby Hill splinters

through bare branches of oak and beech and thorn,

scatters across affectionate remembrances

of the long-lived, of infant mortality,

the pure of heart, sung to their rest

by flights of angels; the lover and the loved.

                                       Bob Horne

 

 

The Annual General meeting was held this week (7th February). It began with a short silence in memory of Councillor Graham Hall who has been a great supporter of our work. All officers were re-elected with the exception that Dorothy Barker has taken over from Angela Monaghan as Secretary. Angela was the inspiration and driving force behind the establishment of the Friends, her leadership has been the main reason for the transformation of our churchyard. To paraphrase Wren's epitaph at St Paul's, if you want to know what Angela achieved in the churchyard - visit us and look around! The Committee agreed the Business Plan for the next 5 years.

This photo was taken by chance on a late Autumn afternoon whilst showing a couple where a family grave was. It certainly shows how much of the churchyard has been cleared. This shot would not have been possible even 2 years ago.

 

Relatives of 'our'  WW1 soldiers Charles & Frank Newsome have recently been in contact from Australia, Canada and nearer home from Sheffield & Halifax. They have provided some more very interesting information about this Brittlebank / Newsome / Appleyard family which will appear on the website in due course.  This family's military connections stretch from the first Afghan War to the present conflict there via WW1 and WW2 in which Lancaster Bomber Flight Sergeant Geoffrey Appleyard won a Distinguished Flying Medal.

Ian Philp, our Chair, took a group of 17 on a Calderdale Heritage Walk on Sunday 20th November. He began by talking about the immediate area - Wakefield Road as a turnpike, the Sun Inn as a coaching inn, the possibility of stocks as shown on a plan of 1867 before moving into the churchyard itself. He talked about the history of the churchyard and the recent improvements and, as the group walked round, about the people who were buried here, the types of memorials and the information on social history that can be found through the inscriptions. A brief walk to Bottom Hall farm to see where the council office and workhouse used to be and then back up via Till Carr House, Farm and Cottage. A final visit to some more graves of interest before finishing in the gloom of a winter's afternoon. Such a walk would not have been possible 3 years ago and a number of the walkers asked that thanks be passed on to the Friends for their work. They were impressed by the hard work of the Working Party who had been busy all afternoon.

 Ward Forum Grant. We are grateful to Calderdale Council and the support from our local Councillors in obtaining a grant towards a hover mower which will make cutting some of the burial areas much easier.

Make Believe – an evening with Jerome Kern and George Gershwin

A brilliant concert attended by over 230. Aidan and Juliet gave superb performances with excellent support from the musicians and the Northowram Singers. John Brooke compered the evening and introduced each of the songs.

We made enough to cover the running costs for next year. Thanks to all of the performers, the backroom helpers and the audience for their support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are very grateful for a number of recent donations which help our work. Many thanks.

Recently, as we clear some old graves for photographing and recording, we came across this one which has some interesting features; the person commemorated was called Prisila - our only example of this name - buried in 1686 (one of our oldest). You can see her initials P and O carved lower down. But do look for the clasped hands lightly carved into the stone - a sign of love.

 

We've recently placed 6 posts with QR codes embedded which link to a guided tour - also available on the website. If you haven't tried this before and have a smart phone, download any QR reader, point at the code and away you go.

 

 

 

Get In Touch

The postcode for the churchyard (for sat navs) is HX3 8TH.

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