The inside story on our grant to the Bronte church

Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2012


In this new series of regular features, we bring you more information about some of the places of worship awarded grants by the National Churches Trust.

We start with St Michael and All Angels church in Haworth, Yorkshire, often called the Bronte church.

 St Michael and All Angels parish dates back at least as far as a reference in Domesday Book. The present church, however, was built in 1879/81, replacing the 1655 church of which Patrick Bronte was the vicar from 1820 to 1861.

The lower part of the tower is clearly medieval and the building includes some notable stained glass by Clayton and Bell, a chancel wall painting possibly also by Clayton and Bell, an alabaster pulpit and reredos, as well as housing the Bronte chapel which contains relics of the previous church, a marble memorial to the Brontes, the seventeenth century altar table and an eighteenth century chandelier.

The church is listed Grade II* and its history also includes the celebrated ministry of the Revd William Grimshaw, a great friend of John Wesley who was himself a frequent preacher here.

Many hundreds of visitors

St Michael and All Angels is open every day of the year except Boxing Day. Weekly visitors run to hundreds because of the Parsonage Museum. Events run for and by local people add a further 7,000 people per annum. The church stands on the cobbled street that is the centre of local tourism and works co-operatively and closely with local shops, businesses and organisations. It hosts events by local traders and Rotary and the church is regularly the venue for concerts, choirs, guides and scouts, school events and school groups.

The National Churches Trust awarded St Michael and All Angels a £20,000 grant. This money, together with funding from other organisations, will go towards making the building watertight and rectify the damage done to the interior by water ingress. Over recent years rainwater has penetrated the church; buckets now collect water in numerous places. Temporary work to the south aisle roof over the organ was not successful and a tarpaulin is in place to protect the organ console. The solution is to re-roof the south-facing slopes and redesign the water drainage on the tower roof thus making the church watertight and protecting the interior from further damage.

St Michael and All Angels also plans to replace the inadequate heating system, refurbish the organ, improve toilet facilities, install auto-winding for the tower clock and install a sound system. These will hopefully further open up the church to a number of new uses.

St Michael and All Angels needed to raise £227,000 to ensure that the first stage of the five-year plan, the repair to the time-expired south roofs and the tower, was able to go ahead and the £20,000 grant from the NCT has ensured that the Church was finally able to meet that bill after a significant fund-raising campaign.

Important grant

The Rev. Peter Mayo-Smith, Rector of Haworth Parish Church, said: "We are grateful to the National Churches Trust for their generosity. This important grant will ensure that the first part of our five-year plan to restore the building can be completed."

 “Besides playing a central role in our community here in Haworth, the Church is also an important part of the tourist offering within the village because of the Bronte legacy so it is vital that the building is made waterproof once again.” 

For more information please visit the St MIchael and All Angels website