Latest News

We post regular updates to Facebook and Twitter - you can see a selection below.

Click here for our Facebook page

Click here for our Twitter page

It is a pleasure to publish Marjorie's latest wildlife report covering the last two months. There are, as usual, lots of wonderful photos and a detailed description of what Marjorie has seen over the many hours that she spends recording the wide variety of life in the churchyard. So much that we just take for granted and so much to enjoy for those who walk through or sit for a few minutes.

Several years ago, as we were carefully removing turf from parts of the flat ledger stones, we came across an ownership inscription for Hannah Denison of Northowram. Such inscriptions are relatively rare in Lightcliffe. Intriguingly the owner, it stated, died in Akron, Ohio USA. It has taken some time before the mystery rose to the top of Dorothy's research list. Here, then, is Hannah's story. Look for People of Interest, as usual, for her story.

Dorothy and Ian would like to thank everyone who has bought our recent book and, even more so, for the positive comments that many have fed back to us. We are getting further information about many aspects which we will be adding, over time, to the story. But, rest assured, there will not be a second edition! We have covered our costs and surpluses now will be given to the Friends for the upkeep of our very special churchyard. Thank you.


The latest family history starts with the grave of Frances Hird, nee Hale. She married Lamplugh Wickham Hird and they became tenants of Ann Walker at Lidgate House just as she moved to Shibden Hall. The tenancy agreement for this substantial furnished house was to last for ten years, though Frances died before this period was completed.

Lamplugh subsequently changed his name, dropping the Hird and taking the family surname so he became Lamplugh Wickham Wickham. He was a director of the Low Moor Company which had mineral rights in Norwood Green - the area known as Upper Rooks.

The latest wildlife report has been completed by Marjorie. Beautifully photographed showing all of the wildlife in our churchyard. To have a look, please visit here, Late Spring Wildlife.


As promised here are three more articles about the Ellis family, Sugdens of Bramley Lane, Hudsons and Broadleys of Norwood Green. Some great detective work uncovering soldiers fighting in the Crimea, India and WW1. Connections to Saltaire and much more. You've five articles to read.

The book 'In the Shadow of Lightcliffe's Old Tower' is selling steadily and we are very pleased with the positive feedback that we are getting. People are enjoying learning more about Lightcliffe, Hipperholme and beyond and the people who lived round here. It is on sale locally - The Sun Inn, Lightcliffe Tea Rooms, Hipperholme News and Hipperholme Post Office or contact us through this website.

Dorothy was determined to sort out the Mordechai Ellis family. It must have been one of her most challenging tasks so far. Sometimes it can be the little bit of extra information that she gleans. In this case, for me, it is that another soldier from Lightcliffe was in the Crimea; I find it amazing that the small community here had 4 men fighting so far away. Please go to People of Interest for more details. These are the first two instalments. 3 to come.

The return of the nuthatches! Marjorie has spotted the nuthatches as they return to their nesting box and we are delighted to include her latest wildlife report showing beautiful photos of spring. You can find her report in the What to see section.

We will be welcoming many visitors to the churchyard next weekend (April 2nd for a few days) as part of the Anne Lister Birthday Week. Halifax and the valley are likely to have several hundred people visiting for this event and some will have travelled from the USA, Europe and other parts of the UK. We hope they enjoy their stay.

The main reason for many to come to Lightcliffe is its association with the Walker family, in particular Ann. Dorothy has found an interesting story of how a family sold their cottage to Ann Walker and were allowed to stay for the rest of their natural life, rent free. It is on People of Interest, look for The Day family and their Lightcliffe Cottage.

With the change of the seasons and the churchyard showing new colour and growth, it is a pleasure to post a poem by one of the Friends. Nancy Wilson is the daughter of john and Marion Stennett who was a well known local policeman. You can find this and enjoy reading Nancy's poem, Awakenings! under Miscellaneous Stories.

Despite getting ready for the launch of the book, Dorothy has managed to complete her stories of the Hanson family of Norwood Green. They were butchers, farmers, innkeepers and vets. They first came to notice as 'cow doctors' tending cattle at Cliffe Hill. The next generation had moved on to be veterinary surgeons and established a family tradition. If anyone has any further information, please let us know. Follow this link to People of Interest and look for The Hanson family articles.


We've a new poem to add to our collection. I think it is very evocative and matches what we are trying to achieve in the churchyard. Do have a look following this link.

The launch of Dorothy's and Ian's book, 'In the Shadow of Lightcliffe's Old Tower' is on Wednesday 23rd February at 7.30 in St Matthew's church. You are very welcome to join us. The book tells the history of the Georgian and Victorian churches, families associated with them including founders of the churches, the Walkers and the Fosters and many more including the real people from the Gentleman Jack series. We hope to see you there.

There's a collection of press cuttings from the past 50 years in the Old Church archives section.


Best wishes for a healthy and enjoyable 2022. We've created a new set of articles in the People of Interest section to lodge articles which aren't easily classified. For want of a better title, it's called Miscellaneous Stories. The first article relates to a travelling communion set and its connections to Southowram, Lightcliffe (very loosely) and the Ripley family in Shropshire. The second is an informal look at what people in our villages did from 1840 to 1910 based on the census returns quoted in many of Dorothy's articles. You may find it highlights many occupations that are now lost. If you are old enough to remember a TV programme called 'What's my Line?', there are number of challenging job names.

Here's the latest in Dorothy's research into the Pearson extended family, making 5 separate but interlinked family stories. It's available at the usual place, People of Interest. Looking through this very extensive section we have now covered the stories relating to 55 families - the vast majority researched in great detail by Dorothy. It really provides a treasure trove for anyone looking into the history of Lightcliffe, Hipperholme and neighbouring villages.

Ian had come across the fact that two prominent families, the Johnston Fosters and the Henry Ripleys had both bought large estates in southern Shropshire around 1880 and begun to sever their links here. On a recent holiday, he had the opportunity to visit both houses, the neighbouring churches and churchyards. This story can be found under People of Interest, The Foster family, Shropshire Connection. The article could not have been written without Dorothy's ability to find additional information.

Marjorie's latest spotlight on the wildlife in the churchyard and includes a couple of new species. Click on the link for 4 pages of autumn interest.

Not surprisingly, there have been updates to the Pearson family articles - with more expected. As you read these, you may be interested to see the very large range of occupations that are mentioned in the census extracts. Anyway, do have a read through. Two more episodes of the Pearson families have been updated, that makes 4 with a final one to come.

Here is another family saga from Dorothy. This time the Pearson family with connections to Denmark Farm and Shibden Hall in the early 1840s. As usual, this can be found under People of Interest, About the Churchyard. This article includes some extra detail about when Ann Walker left the Hall for York. It is amazing how much additional research is being done which has links to Lightcliffe in the first half of the nineteenth century. It's also amazing how many stories Dorothy is 'unearthing'! We need to remember that there are over 11,000 people buries in our churchyard, so she has a few more to do!!

We knew that the Walker family by the 1830s and 1840s owned a large estate both within our immediate locality but much wider. This has now been brought together in an article called 'Elizabeth and Ann Walker's Inheritance'. It can be found under Ann Walker, family and friends in our People of Interest section. Hopefully this article will be updated as further information comes to light.

Two more family histories have just been published. These, the Greaves and the Greenwoods, have connections with the Pickles family and that's where you'll find them. The more families that Dorothy researches, the more family connections are to be found. This isn't surprising really when you think how small our villages were 150 years ago. Again Dorothy has found another connection to New York State.

Marjorie's wildlife surveys have been very well received. She will be taking a break for a while but has produced a summary of all of that she has seen over the past few years. We're very grateful to have this especially as we said that we'd do this in our bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is a great resource for visitors, neighbours and students. Thank you, Marjorie. Well worth reading and an eye opener to find how many different species can be found in the churchyard.

Occasionally we are in a position to post a family history which has been researched by a descendent of the family. A lot of research has been done by one of our Friends,Daphne Eyres, and it is pleasure to publish the family history back to her 4 x great grandfather. So please visit People of Interest and go to William Rushworth. It brings back memories to me of our early days restoring the churchyard as we began to uncover ledger stones in the old part of the churchyard. Carefully edging round the turf and slowly pulling back the turf which had grown over the grave. Not only were we seeing the inscriptions for the first time in many years but also, on the reverse side of the turf, we often had a mirror image - created by the grass roots - of the inscriptions. Magical moments. Find William Rushworth by following the link.

 The latest articles from Dorothy relate to a branch of the Pickles family. There will be more to come. Just publishing this has brought additional information.

Marjorie's June snapshot of the wild life is now available in the usual slot. (just follow the link a few paragraphs below). Ian is leading a walk around Lightcliffe for Calderdale Heritage Walks on Sunday which is already fully booked and is meeting a group from Brighouse Tangent on Monday evening. For those of you living locally, the churchyard is now back under control - the Council have cut the front part and the volunteers are now winning in the rest of the area. We've had problems with PayPal which has taken 4 weeks to sort out but we're now back in action and had 3 donations yesterday - brilliant. Coupled with 2 other generous donations, we are coping well with our expenditure. Thanks to everybody.


Dorothy's latest piece of research is about Sapper Roff who was accidentally killed whilst in this area during WW2. You'll find his story under People of Interest.

The tour of the churchyard by Brighouse History Society was well attended and a generous donation for our funds and those of Friends of Friendless Churches received.

What a glorious few days it has been. The only downside is the rate that the grass grows. For the next few weeks it will be a challenge. We are carefully leaving large clumps of flowers for both wildlife and humans to enjoy. We are tackling the new burial ground where work has been delayed by an abundance of daffodils and primulas. Just on cue is Marjorie's report for May. Follow the link that is shown 4 paragraphs down and read about the thriving wildlife.

On Wednesday 9th, Brighouse History Society are visiting the churchyard for a guided tour including a memorials commemorating a soldier who died from his wounds received during the Charge of the Light Brigade, former headmasters of Heath and Hipperholme Grammar Schools, a former owner of Smith House who entertained John Wesley and left money to the government to fight the rebels in America and the mason who built the church. Let's hope it is a dry evening.

The last two articles on the Wood families are now posted.

Andy Ellis contacted us recently regarding Moravians in Lightcliffe (around 1740 to 1750). He then sent us an article about his 3 x great grand-uncle, Sidney Ellis. Sidney was a wool comber, parish clerk, sexton and Sunday School teacher. The article is now on our People of Interest page. I think that a paragraph about Sidney will be in Dorothy and Ian's history of churches and churchyard.

We hope that you are following the Wood family saga. The latest part, John Wood and family, has just been posted on the People of Interest page.

The latest wildlife report from Marjorie shows a lot of activity in the churchyard and tells us of the new occupant of the bird box built by a neighbour and repaired by her father.

We now have another article about another branch of the Wood family. All of this research started because we are including a chapter on soldiers in our history of the churches and churchyard. We knew somewhere we had a holder of the Military Medal (Alfred Wood) and its grown since there.

Two pieces of news. Firstly we will be opening the door of the tower every third Sunday (2pm until 4pm) coinciding with our working parties. as the tower is quite a small volume, we can not allow visitors inside so they will be restricted to the first 2 steps.

During Dorothy's extensive research of the Wood family she became aware that Herman Wood was a well known artist. Many of his paintings are of local scenes and two were bought in the 1930s by Leeds Art Gallery. The selection that we have accessed, mainly from Mike Wood (a stalwart Friends and volunteer) and his brother Chris, include the church, a stone quarry and the golf club. There is a new article alongside the Wood family on People of Interest. Local golfers, can you recognise where this green was?

Spring is here today - but may be not for the next few days in April. However Marjorie has captured the many signs of new life. So follow the link just below and look for the March update. What is really encouraging is that a neighbour repaired a bird box that his daughter had made a few years ago. Within a very few days prospective occupants were trying it out - even before the 'To Let' notice had been put up. What you'll also find is the latest instalment on the extensive Wood family. This one includes the story of Herman Wood who was a painter of some standing in 1930s. Two paintings were acquired by Leeds Art Gallery including a fascinating one of a stone quarry which operated alongside Crow Nest park. We hope to get permission to share this with you. You'll find this in the usual People of Interest slot.

Spring is just about here! Read about the signs of new life in Marjorie's snapshot.

Ian is a guide for Calderdale Heritage Walks. He had planned a walk around the Lightcliffe that Ann Walker would have known for last year's Anne Lister's Birthday Week events. It didn't, of course, happen. Hopefully he will be able to do this later this year and this will include a visit to the tower. If you live locally, or when restrictions on travel ease, might like to try it as part of your daily exercise. Or you can follow it on Google Earth! We've placed it on the What to see page as an attachment at the foot of the page.

The second in the Wood family series is now published. Follow the trail through People of Interest to the Wood's extended family.

As many of you may know Dorothy and Ian are writing a history of the two churches and the churchyard. Part of this is a section on soldiers from the Jacobite risings through to WW2. Just when we thought we'd finished we remembered seeing MM after someone's name. Searching through the churchyard we found Alfred Wood who was awarded a Military Medal for bravery in WW1. In peacetime he became a local councillor. The Wood family was very extensive and even includes our own stalwart volunteer, Mike. The story of the family will be published in 4 parts starting with Alfred Wood, found in the People of Interest section of the website.

Bob's latest poem evokes memories of the Brookes and a group of Latvian workers. Move easily to this poem by clicking here.

Lock down is giving Dorothy every reason to do more research and here is the latest post. Two intertwined families, the Cordingleys and the Parkinsons, have their stories told. One was Anne Lister's lady's maid and travelled extensively with her. Others were landlords of 3 local pubs, two of which are still in business. Please visit in the usual place, People of Interest.

There's a new addition to the archive section. Ian has summarised the sale of the Hipperholme and Lightcliffe estate inherited by Evan Charles Sutherland Walker over the period from 1867 to 1890. It isn't completely finished as the West Yorkshire Archive service is currently closed and a couple of documents may fill in some gaps. You can find this in About the Churchyard and follow the link Old Church and archive material. You'll need to go to the bottom of the articles for the list of files in the archive.

Marjorie's latest wildlife survey covers Autumn and early Winter. As always, a pleasure to read. I'm always amazed and impressed at what Marjorie finds, a reward of great knowledge and patience. Visit What to See and follow the links.

There are many stories based on our research into families with associations with the churchyard. They can be found on our People of Interest pages. We've now made this accessible from the top menu. Alongside the About the Churchyard is a down arrow. Pressing this gets you directly to People of Interest.

The latest, with links to Canada, the Salvation Army and disasters in our local stone mines can be found under PoI, look for the Sowdens and then the Collins.

Ann Walker had inherited properties over a wide local area not just in Lightcliffe and Hipperholme. Ian has written a brief tour from Honley to Bradshaw via Stainland, Halifax and the Shibden Valley. It can be found in the People of Interest pages under Ann Walker and friends.

Dorothy has written up some more family stories, this one is about Ephraim Collins, related to the Sowdens - so that's where to find this story. It links Hove Edge delvers and drinkers to sod houses in Canada and WW1. Do have a look.

We hope you've had the chance to look at the conversation that Dorothy and Ian had with their host Pat in New York State. The theme was aspects of Ann Walker's Lightcliffe.

The latest working party went well with a lot of tidying up and a big bonfire. The Council did a good job the following day and we're ready for the quiet of winter. Meanwhile Dorothy has been doing more research linking Hove Edge to Canada and members of the Church of Latter Day Saints in Utah. This time you'll need to go to the Sowdens link and the bottom two stories are the latest additions.

Yet another piece of research bringing a timeline of the Walker family in Lightcliffe. It's to be found under the expanding section on Ann Walker, family and friends. It's not surprising that this now runs to 9 pieces. The family owned much of what is now Lightcliffe, Hipperholme, Norwood Green and Hove Edge - plus property in Halifax, Stainland, Scammonden, Lindley, Honley even Shibden Mill.

Next will be the story of Lidgate House and Farm.

We've more stories of local families, this time some Appleyards and Kendalls with connections to a local laundry and a family bible.

We've just been given a transcription of a letter written by Rev Charles Musgrave on the day that he conducted the funeral of Ann Walker and interred her body in March 1854. The letter was found by Steve Crabtree and Diane Halford in the West Yorkshire Kirklees Archive. Charles Musgrave was Vicar of Halifax for many years when it was the largest parish in England covering most of present day Calderdale. Lightcliffe was just a small part of his responsibilities. He presented the church with a large bible (now lost) in 1846 when Lightcliffe became a chapelry. We've added a short article on the Walker family burials in the People of Interest section (About the Churchyard), under the Walkers.

We've two more extensive family histories, researched and written up by Dorothy. Card makers - a vitally important industry in the early textile businesses of the area - and the owners of two substantial houses on Wakefield Road. As usual, go to About the Churchyard and look for People of Interest.

Once again, Marjorie has produced a detailed report with lots of pictures. Visit the 'what to see' page of this website. It really shows how diverse the wildlife is in our churchyard - even if you have to be there at the crack of dawn to see some of it.

Now the Friends are allowed back into the churchyard following the easing of lockdown, we've begun to clear again the ledger stones in the front part of the churchyard. They get covered by grass cuttings and soil movement. As we do so, some beautifully carved grave stones are coming to light again. They are well worth a visit - go up the main path from Wakefield Road and turn right. You'll see some cleared and others will be done over the next few weeks. A short distance in from the path are the 5 adjacent Mann graves. Dorothy has just completed the research into these families and you can find their stories on the People of Interest chapters.

We've just posted a detailed history of one of the Robinson families (we've several associated with the churchyard). A lot more research from Dorothy!

The May Wild Life survey gives a wonderful picture of our churchyard, it really does look good. Part of the picture shows what it is like at dawn! Not an experience that many of us get. Please go to 'what to see' page. After limited access for volunteers, we have now being allowed back to work in the churchyard. We will be restarting soon but taking care not to cut down wild flowers too early!

Another very positive wildlife report posted on the 'What to see' part of the website. The churchyard does look beautiful, even more so in these difficult times.

Here's the latest piece of research that Dorothy has done. This time it is on Middleton Scales who was a teacher then Headmaster at Bailiffe Bridge School. If anyone has further knowledge about Middleton or the school at that period, please get in touch.

As everyone will understand the current situation will mean that we are restricted in what we are able to do in keeping the churchyard trim and tidy. We will do what we can. Meantime, on a much brighter note, Marjorie's March survey is a joy to read. It can be found on the 'What to see' page.

In the meantime, the article about the Walker and Sutherland Walker Estates has been updated and there is a new article looking at the property owned by the family in Honley. They are under People of Interest =>Ann Walker.


Despite the wettest February on record, Marjorie has found grounds for optimism. Do read the February wild life survey.


You might think there isn't much to see in the churchyard over the winter months. You'd be wrong, check out Marjorie's December/January article. It's in the usual place - What to see. The link is a couple of paragraphs down from here.

Just when we thought it was getting quiet at the churchyard, a chance meeting with someone looking for their ancestor's grave set Dorothy off again on another family research project. The grave was that of John Smith who came from Scotland to be Evan Charles Sutherland Walker's land agent. His grave is very close to that of Evan Charles's father - George Mackay Sutherland. As usual please go to About the churchyard ->People of Interest ->John Smith.

Did you know that when the old church was built the more wealthy residents bought their pew? It could cost as much as the equivalent of £1000 today. To read about the pew ownership and look at the brass plates, look at the article under About the Churchyard and Click to see how far we've got.

It's a busy time. The November wildlife survey is now ready with lovely Autumnal pictures. The usual place, What to see page.

We've added another article giving an overview of the Walker estates. This is available under About the Churchyard -> People of Interest->Ann Walker

We've now published the last of the series of stories about those who gave their lives in WW1. Private Arthur Naylor took some tracking down because his surname didn't match the others on the grave. Dorothy (with help from Friend Daphne Eyres) has now written up his story with so many links to others buried in our churchyard. Usual place, People of Interest.

Dorothy has recently added to the story of the Walkers & Sutherlands. Go to About the Churchyard -> People of Interest.

The Autumn colours are beautiful. Go to 'What to see' for Marjorie's October wildlife survey.

Well over 200 folk came to the concert on Saturday packing the church. It was a thoroughly enjoyable occasion for all involved and our thanks go to all of the musicians and our compere John who even had a duet with Aidan. Brilliant singing as always from our principals accompanied by the Northowram Singers and our instrumentalists. We now have the funds to keep us going for another year. Thank you to the audience and the musicians for a lovely evening.


The September wildlife survey is now published on the 'What to see' page. It really is amazing what the skilled eye can see. Thanks, Marjorie.

You may have heard that the Friends of Friendless Churches are opening the base of the tower from noon until 4pm on Saturday 14th September as part of the national programme of Open Heritage weekend. It hasn't been open to the public since the church was demolished 50 years ago. It will give the opportunity for visitors to see some of the Walker family memorials. Our volunteers will be available to show people around the churchyard itself - we expect a lot of interest in the Gentleman Jack graves. There will be light refreshments available at the church together with a display of brass plaques commemorating some of those buried under the old church. These include two of Ann Walker's aunts.

The latest piece of family research by Dorothy is now published. It features the Howorth families (variations of the spelling occurs) who were joiners and famous barometer makers.

The July wildlife survey is now available on 'What to see' page. Dorothy has also published the history of 2 more Lightcliffe families, the Hattons & the Swains on the People of Interest pages.

Another episode of Gentleman Jack and another character, James Hinscliff, who is buried here! Perhaps it is good that there is a break before the next series. Directions to James's grave are now on the Tour 1. We've also added a couple of stories about James & his family in the People of Interest section.

Our new Paypal donation page is proving useful & we are very grateful for the donations that are being made. It makes it easier for us to continue to restore & maintain the churchyard. Clearly the number of visitors to the churchyard has increased as has the floral tributes to Ann Walker.

It really is a busy time. Dorothy has researched and written up the Sowden family with its links to Anne Lister, Ann Walker & even the Bronte family. This can be found on About the Churchyard -> People of Interest. We've also updated the tours in What to See so that visitors looking for the burial places of characters in Gentleman Jack have some guidance. You access this directly from this website or by using a QR reader app on a smart phone and collecting the information from Tour guide posts 1 & 6.

Perhaps not surprisingly the BBC series Gentleman Jack continues to create interest. We now have identified the grave of the Sowden family - Samuel was killed off early in the series but, in reality lived until 84. There has been social media activity around Ann Walker's memorial. As she was buried under the church, there was no headstone. However there was a plaque in the old church. It is now stored in the old tower. For a quick look, follow this link. The article is the last on the list.

Marjorie's latest wildlife survey is now published. It is so reassuring to find how much there is in our acre (actually just over 2 acres) but churchyards were often referred to as 'God's Acre'. Go to What to see & click on the June report.

Gentleman Jack has introduced viewers to a number of local characters. Samuel Washington featured in an early episode and his importance increases as he adds being steward to Anne Lister to his work as land agent for Ann Walker. His story & that of his family has been added to People of Interest.

We have a new Friend & volunteer, Marjorie Middleton. She has a special interest in the wildlife in the churchyard. Her first look round is reported - go to What to see and follow the links. This now includes the May report including our deer! [sorry, I can't get the sound clips to work.

Another poem from Bob, read it now before the month is out!


Bob's latest poem is now published - find it via the home page and Dorothy's latest research can be found by following the route =>About the churchyard=>People of Interest. It features the Watkinson family who were local benefactors & include Canon George Watkinson (vicar of Northowram & Chair of Governors at Hipperholme Grammar School) and his brother Samuel Lord Watkinson.

As you probably know, our storage building near the church has been condemned and we have had to make alternative arrangements. Permission for a steel storage container was agreed by both the Council & the Diocese and, helped by a grant of £500 from the Council supported by our local Councillors, it has now arrived. We will be planting trees & shrubs next month as screening and fitting out the interior prior to moving our equipment across. Picture shows its arrival. Thanks to John Wardingley & Chris Green for their help in getting the base ready.

Some notes from Ian Philp's recent talk to the Lightcliffe & District Historical Society on St Matthew's Old Church have been added to the About the Churchyard page following the link just below the one to People of Interest.

Over the Rainbow - our annual concert

The concert was again a great success with St Matthew's Church absolutely full. A terrific atmosphere with, as usual, excellent singing by Aidan & Juliet supported by the Northowram Singers and our talented instrumentalists all under the direction of Rob Paxman. The songs were introduced by John in his informative and relaxed style. A very enjoyable community event which has raised enough money for the Friends to continue their work in the churchyard. Thank you for your support.





If you pass us at the moment you might see some digging going on.

During the dry spell one of our Friends flew his drone over the churchyard to see if we could find evidence of some “lost” graves buried under the turf near to the old church. Here's one of the photos.


You can see faint outlines of rectangles showing up as much lighter grass. You can also see, to the left of the oval, a diagonal line of where a wall of the church was.

We've dug and found 7 graves belonging to people who died around 1860. The families are Taylors, Lumbs, Bancroft, Binns, Petty & Hemingway.


We will photo and add the details to our website search facility and then re-fill some of the graves so that mowing is easier.

 The search continues. We have 18 more graves to find!

Dorothy Barker has recently been researching Ann Walker's family, friends and the connections with the church. The article can be found under About the churchyard => People of Interest.


We have an update to the article on what was in the old church together with a short piece on some former priests in charge of the church and one on Midshipman Alfred Ripley.

As the year turn turns and signs of growth appear in our churchyard, Bob has written two new poems, Solstice & Turning. To read them, please go to Bob's page on our home page.


Three more family stories have been researched by Dorothy (Bradleys, Sharp & Shooter) and can be found by the link at the bottom of the About the Churchyard page. It all started when a visitor who came on a Calderdale Heritage Walk based around the churchyard gave the Friends a prayer book and hymnal which were probably used in both the old & the new churches.

Have you read Bob's recent poem? Follow his link on the home page.

The concert was a great success with the largest audience so far. Fine performances and a good community spirit. Thanks to everyone involved. It gauarantees that we can continue our work for another year.



 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 - 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.

You can email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Our latest posts