History of St Jude's Church

History of St. Jude’s Church

The Parish of St. Jude’s Salterhebble was an offshoot of the parish of All Saints. It is not clear exactly why such an offshoot was deemed necessary - the Diocesan records for this period are rather sketchy - and we may never know whether or not, as is rumoured, it was because a number of influential (and wealthy) members of All Saints’ congregation were unhappy with the style of Services at the time.
It is known, however, that once the process of creating the new parish had been set in motion, a site for the new church was selected. Something must have gone wrong because the nurses’ home of the Royal Halifax Infirmary is where St. Jude’s Church was to have been and the present site at the north east corner of Savile Park was selected in 1887. The conveyance of the land is dated 6th July 1888 and, amid the kind of flowery language still used by the legal profession a century later, contains the significant words “I, John Baldwin of Broomfield in the Parish of Halifax...do convey unto the...Ecclesiastical Commissioners... 4618 square yards... part of a close called ‘The Starting Post Field’.”


Excavation work for the foundations began in July 1888 and by November 1888 sufficient work had been carried out for a first payment to be made to the main contractors, J. Charnock & Sons. The official foundation stone was laid in May 1889 and was originally unmarked. It was well into the 1900s when detective work by the second vicar, The Reverend C.E. Dixon, established precisely which stone had been ceremonial1y laid and it was suitably inscribed. The building was designed by Mr. W. Swinden Barber of Halifax and the design of the tower, some 85 feet high, was exhibited at the Royal Academy. His bill for services to the then Building Committee includes an item for ‘coins for bottle in foundation stone ‘ proof that the Victorians liked to account for every penny!
According to the survey carried out in 1970, the overall length of the building is 33m (107ft) and the width is 15m (48ft). The tower is 27m (89ft) high to the top of the pinnacles. The total cost of the building, including purchase of the site and erection of boundary walls, was £8,400 and the cost was defrayed by John Baldwin and his brother William. John Baldwin is commemorated by the East Window which was given by his son and daughter and installed in 1910. Canon Warneford, the Vicar of All Saint’s collected subscriptions for the church bell and other subscriptions purchased the altar frontal and the fine Caen stone font.
On the afternoon of Thursday 13th November 1890 Bishop Walsham How (in the words of the Order of Service for the Consecration) “declares that he is ready to consecrate the church and he then proceeds... followed by the clergy... the Bishop, Clergy and choir alternately repeating the words of the 24th Psalm”. The first Vicar, the Reverend Fenwick Fisher, was formally inducted on 26th November 1890 and worship at St. Jude’s began.


The Clock

The first significant change to the building came in 1893 when circular stone slabs, inserted in the tower as a temporary measure, were removed and replaced by the dials of a clock which had previously been at Bowling Dyke Mills. The clock was set going in December 1893 but in due course proved unreliable and was replaced by the present clock. The church-wardens at the time, Mr. C.H. Rouse and Mr. L. Ingham invited subscriptions for this purpose, and the new clock was dedicated on May 14th 1915. For seventy-five years the clock was wound by hand and each week a member of the congregation climbed the spiral staircase to the tower and performed this strenuous activity. The clock has now been replaced with an electric one.


The interior

The original church had choir and clergy vestries at the north east corner of the building, divided by a partition. In 1925 it was decided to add to this accommodation, and a new choir vestry and toilet were built to make provision for the comfort of the worshippers. At the same time the existing stone staircase to the north door was enclosed. In 1965, work began on converting the old vestries into a Chapel of Remembrance. This work was sufficiently completed in time for the new Chapel to be dedicated on Remembrance Sunday 1966 and the Chapel (now known as ‘The Lady Chapel’) was finally completed on 20th August 1972, when its new stained glass window was dedicated. At the same time as the conversion work was being carried out, a clergy vestry was provided by creating access to space under the sanctuary.
The interior of the Church has seen several changes. The first of these came immediately after the First World War when subscriptions were invited for a War Memorial. This took the form of a new altar, reredos and communion rail together with new panelling for the sanctuary walls. The dedication of this Memorial (in 1920) is recorded on a brass plate at the west end of the church and a memorial tablet in the south porch gives the details of those men of the parish who served, with the names of the fallen in the centre panel. The Memorial to those who died in the Second World War comprises an oak plaque and table to be found on the west wall of the organ chamber.
The font is of Caen stone on which is carved the symbol of St. Jude - a fishing boat which also appears on the arch over the organ and in the east window which was given by the Baldwin family in 1910 in loving memory of John Baldwin. The font has an oak cover which was originally surmounted by a carved dove which at some stage appears to have flown! When the church was built, the font was positioned in the south west corner but it was moved to its present central position in 1971 (minus a soak-away!).
Gas lighting was installed when the church was built, with the burners on iron standards under the nave arches. Electric lighting was installed in 1904 and the church was rewired in 1938 with floodlighting in the chancel and hanging lanterns in the nave. The church was completely rewired again in 1985. New chancel and sanctuary lighting was installed at Christmas 1989. Other recent changes have included the provision of gates in the communion rail in 1969 (replacing the blue rope which had been there formerly) and new altar kneelers given in 1976 to mark the Centenary of the Mothers' Union.


The Organ

An organ, built to a design and specification of Mr. W. H. Garland, organist at Halifax Parish Church, was installed in the new church and was the gift of Mr. Thomas Whitaker. It was built by Abbott and Smith of Leeds but unfortunately that company's records were destroyed in the 1970s when it went out of business and details of the original organ have therefore been lost. A major rebuild was undertaken in 1932 by Peter Conacher & Company. Conacher's records show that they installed a new electric blower in place of the original hydraulic engine and fitted a tubular pneumatic action in place of the old tracker action. The present three manual keyboard and pedal board also date from that rebuild which cost £695. A further rebuild took place in 1955 and the instrument took on its present form in 1974 when Messrs. Walker of Ruislip carried out work which resulted in two stops being added to the pedal organ with the rest of the organ being extensively remodelled and revoiced. The organ has twenty- nine speaking stops and twelve couplers. It has some 2,000 pipes varying in length from a few inches to sixteen feet.

Other buildings

Three other buildings connected with the church should be mentioned. In 1895 the Vicarage was built a short distance to the north west of the church. Including cellars, it had twenty one rooms and housed successive vicars for over ninety years until in 1987 it was replaced by a modern property on Kensington Road. After standing empty for a short time, the old Vicarage became a residential home for the elderly in 1988. The Kensington Road vicarage was used until 1997 when the vicar David Lockyer left and Geoffrey Calvert became Priest in Charge of both Holy Trinity and St. Jude’s and the Holy Trinity Vicarage at Love Lane became the vicarage for both parishes. The Kensington Road Vicarage is now used by the Vicar of the then Halifax Parish Church (now Halifax Minster).
A Sunday School, situated in Clover Hill Road, was opened in 1896 and consisted of a main hall, six classrooms, a kitchen and lavatories. It continued in use until 1967 when it was sold along with a property at the end of Glen Terrace - a former Verger’s house. In the same year a new church hall was built to the north east of the church, in what was the Vicarage garden at a cost of £9000. It was formally opened by Bishop Treacy, then Bishop Suffragan of Pontefract, on 11th November 1967. The hall was refurbished in 2000 with a bequest from John Helliwell.


Parish boundaries

The boundaries of the Parish were altered in 1912. Originally the Church building was on the western boundary of the Parish which ran along Savile Park Road but the 1912 boundary change transferred a considerable area of King Cross Parish to St. Jude’s – including, incidentally, the site of the Vicarage at Kensington Road, which was used from 1987 until 1996.
Due to shrinking congregations and consequent churches merging the parish boundary now includes areas formerly covered by St. Mary’s with St. James', Holy Trinity and St. Jude’s.


Music and The Choir

Based on an article researched and written by Gordon Normanton for the Centenary celebrations in 1990.
Since its Consecration Service on November 13th 1890 when an anthem was sung, St. Jude’s Church has maintained a strong choral tradition. Mr. T. Smith Mus.Bac. was the first organist and choirmaster, succeeded in due course by Mr. A. Wilson. In 1903 Arthur Haigh was appointed and remained in post until the late l950’s - a remarkable achievement. The Jubilee souvenir brochure of 1940 acknowledged the "high quality of the music", the keen and regular choir men and the "invariably excellent singing" of the boys. Mr. E. Cooper, a chorister for forty years, was singled out for special mention. Philip Craven, a former choir man, who joined as a boy in 1934 and gave almost thirty years' service, remembers strict discipline at the two weekly practices, a waiting list of boys eager to join and an annual trip by train to Southport where Mr. Haigh generously gave each boy a shilling to spend. Later, when numbers began to fall, sopranos and contraltos were admitted. In l935 Mr. Francis Town, a highly-regarded member of the choir, died and bequeathed the sum of £l50 to form a choir fund for the purchase of music etc,. His brother and sister further increased the sum by £100. A framed parchment commemorating the family’s generosity still hangs in the vestry.
Failing eyesight eventually forced Mr. Haigh to retire. He had taught singing privately and tuned pianos. A man of few words and occasionally abrupt, he had been very sprightly in his youth, enjoying a game of cricket and supporting Halifax Town football team.
John Askew was appointed in 1957 and began painstakingly to recruit new singers, train them rigorously and extend the repertoire. His vintage Rolls Royce lent a certain prestige to the post and he owned a large macaw named Elgar which was partial to chips and fingers!
By this time the only ladies in the choir were contraltos, who not only enhanced the singing but added considerably to the choir's social life. The same is true today!
A rift among the choir men occurred about this time when it was discovered that, unknown to the majority, certain "senior” men were being paid for their musical duties. This practice ceased forthwith and the money was donated thereafter by the P.C.C. to general choir funds - a practice which ceased only in 1989 in the cause of economy.
John Askew left in 1964 and Gordon Normanton was appointed. Once again new boys were found and additions made to alto, tenor and bass lines. Choral Matins (2nd, 4th and 5th Sundays); Parish Communion (1st and 3rd Sundays); Family Service (1st Sunday) and Evensong was the pattern in those pre – ASB days.
The Royal School of Church Music Choristers' Training Scheme was adopted and proved successful as the boys responded to its built - in incentives. Several gained the St. Nicholas Award after examination and most attended residential singing courses. The whole choir was admitted to the St. Nicholas Guild in 1969. Singing at numerous choir festivals, in addition to the boys' success in inter-church football and swimming, kept everyone busy. The contraltos were netball champions and one summer we had all three trophies hanging in the vestry. A choir magazine "The Quire", which ran for eleven issues between 1965 and 1970, was compiled by choir members and went on general sale to boost funds.
In addition to the annual boys' trip, usually to Blackpool by then (and half-a -crown to spend) the adults continued a long tradition. A grand affair, with vicar, wardens, lay readers, bell-ringer et al, we headed for the coast and, at some point, played the inevitable game of cricket. Dinner at a well-chosen hostelry, followed by singing of a more raucous and sometimes dubious nature on the way home, completed the annual ritual.
Illness forced Gordon’s resignation in 1971 and, after a brief hiatus; Peter Williams took over in 1972 and stayed fourteen years. A strong boys' choir was maintained, more individual honours were awarded and two boys in particular distinguished themselves. Richard O'Neill and Peter's son Thomas left to sing at Westminster Abbey and Ripon Cathedral respectively. The whole choir was readmitted to the St. Nicholas Guild in 1972 and 1980. Inevitably, in 1983, with fewer boys, girl trebles were introduced and history repeated itself with the reintroduction of sopranos who continue to delight both eye and ear! With the introduction of the Alternative Service Book in 1980, the pattern of worship changed. A setting of the new Rite A Eucharist was adopted and the Parish Psalter put into storage. Peter's wife, Margaret, wrote a fine setting of the new evening responses which we still use today. The choir repertoire was extended further to include the best of twentieth – century writing. Peter's insistence on high standards of singing and his formidable organ technique were appreciated by those who were privileged to work with him. In 1986 Peter left to pursue a freelance career and Gordon was invited to serve for a second term. The weekly round of practices and services continues. We still sing a Eucharist setting and two anthems every Sunday in spite of changing social patterns and shifting liturgical trends.
Gordon Normanton retired in 2003 and Margaret Seed took over the position of Organist & Choir mistress and remains in post to date.


The present incumbent, the Reverend Dr Richard Frith, was inducted in September 2014.
His predecessors were: -

M.C. Russell 2000 - 2014 (Priest in Charge of parishes of Holy Trinity and St Jude becoming Vicar in 2002)
G. R. Calvert 1997 – 1999 (Priest in Charge of parishes of Holy Trinity and St Jude)
D. R. G. Lockyer 1984 - 1996
M. J. Walker 1969 – 1983
J. A. A. Lodge 1964 – 1969
D. E. Marrs 1957 – 1963
A. R. Blackledge 1951 – 1956
L. Foster 1936 – 1950
E. Scott 1930 – 1936
S. W. Scadding 1917 – 1930
C. E. Dixon 1902 – 1916
F. Fisher 1890 – 1902

The Combined Parishes of Holy Trinity and St. Jude
The Royal Accent for the new joint parish was received on 1st February 2007. Thus it legally came into being on that date. In effect the new parish started on 1st January 2007. A combined PCC met on 12th January 2007. To mark the joining of the two parishes Christopher Sanderson, who was a member of St. Jude’s choir at the time, wrote a new Eucharist setting.


This history has been compiled mainly from articles researched and written for the centenary brochure of 1990. In particular articles by Mr Richard Ainley and Mr Gordon Normanton. Updates and more recent information has been provided by Miss Christine Thorpe.

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