OSSETT HOLY TRINITY CHURCH

The following is an extract from Arthur Mee’s ‘The King’s England, Yorkshire, West Riding, first published in 1941.

A manufacturing town with a great trade in rag and wool, it has an imposing town hall and a peace memorial with a soldier looking down on the marketplace. Holy Trinity Church, rebuilt last century, is a lofty pile looking its best outside, its great central tower crowned with a spire. The quaint little house of 1684, near Storrs Hill road, would be a familiar sight to Benjamin Ingham*, the Ossett boy who began life in 1712, became an enthusiastic member of the Oxford group known as Methodists, and was a lifelong friend of John Wesley. He was with Wesley in Georgia, but when he came back he joined the Moravian settlement near Leeds, and afterwards formed a strange religious order of his own known as Inghamites.

 THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY AND UNDIVIDED TRINITY

Research by Anne-Marie Fawcett and Steve Wilson

Standing 226 feet tall and situated on a plateau some 300ft above sea level, the Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity dramatically dominates the skyline for miles around. A large impressive church, it is an important and instantly recognised landmark in the area and was afforded Grade ll* listing in May 1988. 

Some of Ossett’s well known skyline. Photo: Nev Ashby ©️

Ossett has been served by chapels and churches since around 1409 and this magnificent edifice replaced the original Trinity Church which had been erected in the Market Place in 1806 – which itself replaced an even earlier place of worship. The old church was largely financed by Reverend Edward Kilvington who ultimately became so big and heavy that he couldn’t get up the stairs of the pulpit. This led to the installation of a three-decker pulpit, which in reality was a primitive lift. Before the Sunday service, he got into his chair at the bottom of the pulpit steps and then the church sexton, by hauling a rope, slowly wound him up to the top level! The old church, which was said by some to have looked more like a courthouse and was described as ‘small, inconvenient and an obstruction to traffic’, was inadequate for the needs of the township; yet it was almost 60 years before a new church was provided.  

The old Chapel of Ease was sketched by JK Garlick, Ossett Borough Surveyor. To give us an idea of where it once stood Steve Mitchell has used the only photo known to exist of its demolition in 1866.

Born in Middlesex in 1825, Thomas Lee was the son of a gentleman and was said to be ’eminently suited to serving Ossett’. By the age of 28 he was the curate of St Mary’s in Bilston, Staffordshire. That same year, 1853, he married Harriet Ann Norman, the daughter of a stockbroker. Rev Lee was the first vicar of the new Holy Trinity Church.

This portrait is held at Holy Trinity Church, Ossett and was photographed by Anne-Marie Fawcett

In 1858 Ossett was declared a separate parochial district, having previously been in the parish of Dewsbury. In this year, Rev Thomas Lee was offered the living at Holy Trinity Church – but not the one with which we are familiar. This church was actually a chapel of ease and it was situated in the Market Place (still known then as Dale Street). The chapel was built in 1809 and replaced a much earlier place of worship but as the population of Ossett grew, the church became inadequate for the needs of the town and it was decided to build a new one.

In 1861 three acres of land on Field Lane was purchased and later that year a licence was obtained to use it as a burial ground. Joseph Wilson was the first burial there in December 1861 and today almost 16,000 people are buried in this graveyard which contains many Victorian monuments and 15 Commonwealth war graves. The new church was to be built on the adjacent land and subsequently the name of the thoroughfare was changed to Church Street. 

Rev Lee and his wife Harriet lived in the Vicarage on Dale Street with their son, Freddy. They were also to have a daughter but sadly she died in 1874 shortly after her first birthday. She was laid to rest in the churchyard of the new Holy Trinity Church, with her father leading the burial ceremony.

In 1877 Rev Lee moved his family to Islington, where he became the Vicar of St John the Baptist until 1883. Rev Lee died in October 1892 and Harriet died the following October. Their only surviving child, Frederick Bethune Norman Lee, also became a vicar. That’s a great name already but, in 1881 he changed it to ‘Frederick Bethune Norman Norman-Lee.’ He was ordained in 1883 and became Chaplain to the Forces.

Although it would seem that the service record of Chaplain/Colonel FBN Norman-Lee hasn’t survived I can tell you that, during the years 1883 – 1899 he served at Chatham, Aldershot, the Curragh in Ireland, Nova Scotia in Canada, Gosport and Portsmouth. In the South African War of 1899 – 1901 he was chaplain to the 6th Division and took part in the relief of Kimberley and the battles of Paardeberg and Bloemfontein. As if all that wasn’t enough, he also served during WW1. Rev Frederick Bethune Norman Norman-Lee died in 1921 in Hampshire. He left a widow but no children.

Benjamin Ingham

The foundation stone of the new church was laid on June 30 1862 by Benjamin Ingham who was the nephew of the Ossett born Benjamin Ingham snr*; the founder of the trading dynasty of Ingham, Whitaker & Co. in Sicily. It is claimed that Benjamin Ingham snr was possibly the greatest tycoon England has ever known and when he died in 1861 he left a fortune of £12,000,000. That would now be the equivalent of more than £1 billion. He didn’t forget his Ossett roots and bequeathed £1,000 of his fortune to the Church Building Fund:- equivalent to almost £90,000 today.

The honour of laying the first stone of the new church fell to Reverend Lee. He also had the honour of being hoisted to the top of the church to lay the last stone on the steeple. He then unfurled a Union flag as a brass band played ‘Rule Britannia’!

The architect in charge, William Henry Crossland of Halifax, was a pupil of Sir George Gilbert Scott, whose Gothic Revival influence is apparent throughout. The main features include: a 226ft spire, one of the tallest in Yorkshire; a 16 bell Belfry, allowing a unique 15 bell peal; magnificent stained glass windows; an Isaac Abbott organ; an original four faced Potts turret clock; and significant Last Supper reredos, pulpit and stone carvings. Though initially estimated at £8,000, alterations and additions to the original plans meant that the final cost of construction amounted to around £16,000 (more than £945,000 today).

Photo: Anne-Marie Fawcett 2016 ©️

Such was the scale of the project that, during the consecration service of 14 July 1865, the Bishop of Ripon made reference to ‘this miniature cathedral’. Ossett stood in the Diocese of Ripon from 1836 until the Diocese of Wakefield was created in 1888. In 2014, following the dissolution of the historic dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield, Ossett became a part of the Leeds Diocese. Covering an area of around 2,425 square miles, and a population of around 2,642,400 people, this is one of the largest dioceses in the country and its creation is unprecedented in the history of the Church of England.

The Church of Gawthorpe St Mary the Virgin was built in 1899. It closed in 2002, largely because of diminishing congregations and a new road layout making access difficult for pedestrians. In 2007 planning permission was granted to convert the old church into a modern apartment block but this was deferred and the church stood empty for four more years. The fine old church was eventually demolished in January 2011 to make way for residential housing. The parish of Ossett & Gawthorpe was formed in 2002 with the amalgamation of Holy Trinity, Ossett and St Mary’s, Gawthorpe and Chickenley Heath and it was decided to adopt a new ‘working title’ to reflect the coming together of the two congregations. Trinity Church was decided upon, named after the church which was situated in Ossett town centre almost a century and a half earlier.

 

EXHUMATION OF BODIES FROM THE

OSSETT GREEN BURIAL GROUND

Around 1969 the old Burial Ground at Dimple Wells, The Green, Ossett was bought by a builder. The bodies were exhumed and moved to Gawthorpe Burial Ground

NAMES OF BODIES EXHUMED & DATE BURIED
1Samuel Mitchell2nd March 1835
 Martha Mitchell30th March 1840
   
2Nancy Riley20th May 1837
   
3Elizabeth Butterfield20th May 1837
   
4William Ellis9th December 1826
 Joseph Ellis6th March 1828
 Hephzibah Ellis8th April 1830
 Henry Ellis24th January 1838
   
5Thomas Saxton2nd February 1822
 Robert Saxton27th January 1828
 Nancy Saxton11th October 1840
 Eliza Saxton9th September 1884
   
6Robert Saxton16th May 1849
 Susannah Saxton6th February 1859
   
7Susannah Saxton6th December 1859
 Benjamin Saxton8th May 1888
   
8Mary Ellis12th June 1840
 Joshua Ellis2nd November 1852
   
   
9Hannah Scott19th October 1811
 Charles Scott13th January 1826
 Martha Scott19th May 1853
 Mary Scott29th August 1833
   
10Thomas Mitchell17th November 1830
   
11Joshua Mitchell30th September 1828
 Enoch Mitchell4th December 1829
   
12Mary Mitchell14th December 1828
 Thomas Mitchell18th November 1829
 Martha Mitchell30th August 1844
   
13George Pickard7th March 1852
 Sarah Pickard14th May 1857
   
14Hannah Walshaw23rd.April 1837
   
15Philip Dews7th March 1861
   
16Mary Moss11th February 1851
   
17John Archer1st November 1822
18Sarah Wilson23rd September 1834
 John Wilson23rd January 1848
 Nancy Wilson2nd January 1843
   
19Nancy Grace16th February 1841
   
20Frederick Mitchell Briggs8th March 1850
   
21Seth Mitchell14th October 1839
   
22Joseph Mitchell13th January 1835
 2 children in infancy 
 Nancy Mitchell2nd September 1838
   
23Hannah Mitchell27th November 1845
 Nathan Mitchell10th August 1870
   
24James Briggs10th August 1839
 Mary Ann Briggs28th May 1840
25Henry Kenyon Ambler18th August 1877
   
26Grace Wilby4th December 1821
 Judith Scott14th May 1830
 Frances Wilby22nd February 1848
27Eliza Ward23rd March 1883
 Henry Herbert Ward5th October 1862
28F. W.Clegg7th August 1844
 Mark Clegg23rd March 1849
 Jemima Clegg13th June 1867
29Ann Mitchell13th March 1827
 Samuel Mitchell18th March 1833
 Sarah Mitchell7th July 1836
 David Mitchell18th March 1885
30Philip Oakes16th November 1853
 Thomas Edwin Oakes28th October 1881
31Jane Oakes31st Januaryl837
 Charles Oakes14th June 1837
32Nathan Oakes21st April 1830
 Benjamin Oakes22nd April 1828
 Edward Oakes4th April 1836
 Benjamin Oakes25th February 1846
 Nancy Oakes29th December 1860
33Nancy Ellis13th August 1874
 Philip Ellis7th January 1878
 Emily Jane Ellis4th November 1892
 Eli Ellis26th April 1894
34Samuel Oakes27th May 1851
 Nancy Oakes19th January 1851
 Jane Oakes27th June 1855
 Alice Oakes18th May 1858
 Benjamin Oakes23rd April 1851
35Joshua Briggs4th November 1858
 Hannah Briggs29th January 1874
36? CharlesMay 1858
37Susannah Clegg1st February 1865
 Emma Clegg14th July 1861
38Mary Brook26th July 1857
 Thomas Brook8th August 1857
39Hannah Archer2nd August 1852
 Abraham Archer21st January 1867
40Philip Brook1st August 1855
 Eli Brook28th March 1856
 Simon Brook9th June 1850
 Sophia Brook28th August 1862
 Harriett Brook14th August 1876
 J.C. Brook27th May 1885
41Francis Giggal18th May 1856
 Mary Giggal15th May 1887
42Harriett Jenkinson13th November 1871
 Joseph Jenkinson10th February 1873
43Joseph Haigh11th October 1864
 Sarah Haigh30th April 1900
44Elizabeth Audsley18th November 1830
 Mary Audsley29th December 1819
 Hannah, Martha, Isaac & Ann   – In infancy 
 Joseph Audsley4th February 1862
 Sarah Dews8th January 1889
45John Audsley13th December 1830
 Joseph Audsley27th July 1859
46Benjamin Banes11th March 1830
 Martha Banes12th July 1833
47Margaret Giggal1st March 1830
 David Giggal16th April 1835
48Millicent Ellis8th May 1847
49Sarah Ellis29th March 1834
 Samuel Ellis7th April 1846
 Mary Ellis24th April 1856
 Ann Bennett10th July 1852
 Mary Ellis24th April 1856
 Philip Ellis17th July 1877
50Thomas Pawson4th February 1837
 4 children in infancy 
 Rachel Pawson17th December 1865
51Joshua Moss11th July1830
 George Moss26th May 1872
52Benjamin Mitchell22nd June 1844
53John Boothroyd30th December 1862
 Susannah Boothroyd20th June 1876
54? 
55Jabez Radley 
 Hannah Radley2nd October?
 Jabez Radley23rd March 18?
 Martha Radley17th August 1871
 George Radley23rd February 1896
56George Saxton21st June 1865
 Martha Saxton19th November 1882
57Mark Pickard7th July 1865
58Hannah Pickard25th April 1862
 Andrew Pickard18th September 1890
 Hannah Pickard29th June 1891
59George Pickard10th June 1892
 David Pickard6th July 1882
 David Pickard (Jnr)17th February 1878
60Sarah ClaftonFebruary 1859
 ? Clafton12th April 1859
61Mary Ellis24th April l853
 John William Ellis18th May 1863
62Susan Ely1st June 1853
63Elizabeth Ely9th November 1851
 Martha Ely19th June 1853
 Thomas ?11th June 1879
64Edmund Dews7th July 1829
 John Archer17th July 1852
 Ann Dews12th May 1855
 John Archer17th July 1832

 Information courtesy of Lawrence Son & Thorp (Solicitors) Ossett

(Supplied by the late Jean Crabtree)

More information about the Ossett Green Burials and other material can be obtained from wdfhs.co.uk