Tour page 1

 

Welcome to St Matthew's Churchyard. There are records of a chapel here from 1530 and the first burials date from around 1670. There are over 11,000 burials in the churchyard.

As you enter from Wakefield Road, you will see the tower and the outline of the church that was demolished around 1970. The tower, which was also in danger of being demolished, was saved by The Friends of Friendless Churches. But first look around at the old graves many of which lie flat, called ledger stones. The earliest date from 1670s and are seen mainly to your right (East). Some of the carving has survived very well and is well worth looking at.

 

 

Look also as you tour the churchyard at the variety of well established trees; beach, oak, holly, hawthorn and sycamore.
To your left (West) and a few rows in from the path is the grave of William Mallinson who was the stone mason who built the old church in 1788.

Before following the path round the tower, look at where the church stood. It accommodated a larger congregation than you'd expect as there were galleries above the nave. Ann Walker of Cliffe Hill, friend of Ann Lister of Shibden Hall, is buried under the nave; the plaque commemorating her and giving her burial as "under the pulpit" was moved to inside the tower when the church was demolished. The Rev Rich Sutcliffe, vicar when this church was built, is also buried under the church.


As you pass by the tower look at some of the tombs and headstones. You will see that most are made of local stone (more exotic materials didn't become remotely affordable until the railway came locally), look particularly at the headstone for Rev William Gurney, the vicar here for many years) but look also at the “cope-style” tomb of Sarah Walton.


 Over to the west wall are the family graves including two soldiers who died in the Crimean War – one died in Scutari at about the time that Florence Nightingale arrived. (William Flather and Sam Sharp) William was seriously injured during the Charge of the Light Brigade and died soon afterwards. (check our website for People of Interest under About the churchyard for his history.

As you leave the stone path, on your right hand side is a headstone to Henry Booth and his family. At the very bottom Fred Booth is remembered though buried in Cornwall, New York state. He died a very rich man having been the general manager of a carpet factory founded by "our" Firths Carpets. The village is named Firthcliffe and lies on the Hudson River just north of west Point Military Academy.

 As you walk towards the long path, please look for the 2nd Tour post.

 You might be interested to know that, since 2012, the churchyard has been restored and maintained by the Friends of St Matthew's Churchyard, a volunteer community group. If you'd like to hear more about our work please look at our website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get In Touch

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

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