History of the Parish of St Martin, Brighouse
In 1818 an Act of Parliament was passed under which £1 million pounds was granted to the Established Church to build churches in developing industrial areas. Some 30 of these churches were built in the West Riding of Yorkshire. St.Martin’s was built with a £3,600 grant which covered the entire cost of £3,514. The church was consecrated in 1831 by the Archbishop of York because in those days the parish was in the Diocese of York. Five years later it became part of the Diocese of Ripon and in 1888 part of the new Diocese of Wakefield.
For 12 years there was a Curate-in-Charge and it was not until 1843, when the church was separated from Rastrick and the Revd. Joseph Birch was named as first Vicar of Brighouse, that Brighouse became an independent Chapelry and Parish within the ancient Parish of Halifax.
The Revd. Joseph Birch left in 1862 and was succeeded by the Revd. William Booker, who stayed until 1890. In 1870 St James’ Chapel was built as a Chapel of ease to the Parish Church; this was a rare instance of a second consecrated Church within the boundary of the same parish. Hove Edge legally became part of the Parish of Brighouse in 1894 and St Chad’s Mission Church and School were built and opened in May 1895. In 1915 a new church was opened and the former building became St Chad’s School.
In the late 1890s significant re-ordering of St. Martin’s involved removal of the old pews, relaying the whole floor and reducing the side galleries. The chancel was built in 1904 and the church was closed for three months whilst the north and south galleries were removed and the organ transferred from the west end to the chancel.
For the first 100 years of its life St. Martin’s was fortunate in having a succession of generous benefactors. In 1925 the Parish Hall and Church House were given by the Sugden family. These were sold in the early 1970s and the former Parish Hall now accommodates a Medical Centre. St James’ Church was closed in the mid 1970s after celebrating its centenary. A residential development known as St. James’ Court now stands on the site.
In 1985 discussions were held to form the Team Parish of Brighouse comprising St. Martin’s and St. Chad’s. Parochial status was granted in 1988. In 1993 St. John’s, Clifton joined with St. Chad’s and St. Martin’s when the Team Parish of Brighouse and Clifton was formed.
In 2002 work began on the most recent re-ordering of St. Martin’s involving replacing pews with flexible seating, re-aligning floor levels, repairing plasterwork, installing enhanced lighting and a new heating system and re-decorating. A Community Area was created incorporating reception, kitchen, office and toilets. This area was named the Sugden Suite in memory of the family who had earlier been major benefactors. The work was completed in 2006 during the incumbency of Fr. Michael Wood and the 175th Anniversary of Consecration was celebrated with a service led by the Rt. Revd. Stephen Platten, Bishop of Wakefield.
Brighouse Parish Church has been a training ground for several clergy who have subsequently held high office, such as Bishop, Archdeacon, Provost, in the Church of England. That tradition continues with Curates and Students in training today.
The year 2011 saw further changes with St. Martin’s, Brighouse, St. John’s, Clifton and St. Chad’s, Hove Edge each reverting to independent parish status. St. Martin’s, Brighouse and St, John’s, Clifton now constitute the United Benefice of Brighouse and Clifton under the leadership of the Revd. Paul Webb.
There are two Church Aided schools in the Parish. The former St. Martin’s School is now an Adult Learning Centre, the former Parish Hall houses a Medical Practice and a former Vicarage has served as a Care Home.
If you should choose to worship at St. Martin’s or join the audience at one of our Concerts or Exhibitions or come to a Parish Social Event you are assured of a warm and friendly welcome.