Lightcliffe Old Church was dedicated to St Matthew the Apostle, and replaced the earlier Eastfield Chapel which stood nearby.
The church was built in 1774 when William Walker brought timber from the Baltic coast of Russia, then to Hull and finally by canal to Brighouse. This was the work of William Mallinson and may have been to a design of John Carr.
Those who contributed towards the building of the Church included Mrs Elizabeth Holmes.
A stone from the original church – inscribed:
Deo et Sancto Mattaeo. Apostolo Evangelistae Martyri Sacra
There were 2 pulpits: one twice the height of the other. One was brought here from Coley Church .
In 1786, the gallery was extended in order to accommodate pupils from Hipperholme Grammar School. This was supported on cast-iron columns, amongst the earliest examples.
In 1787, a Snetzler organ was installed, replacing earlier string and wind musicians.
Until around 1826, there was a custom that anyone killing a pole-cat would receive 8d from the churchwarden, and 4d for a hedgehog – see Vermin.
In 1840, a coat of arms was installed to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. This incorporates Albert's arms as Duke of Saxony on the assumption that this title would be incorporated in the arms of Victoria – it was not. The arms were moved to the new St Matthew's Church.
In 1865, the graveyard – Lightcliffe Cemetery – was extended.
A new St Matthew's Church was built nearby, to the west, towards Hipperholme. This was consecrated on 22nd September 1875, on the centenary of the old church, and the old church became the cemetery chapel.
An annual service was held at the church until storm damage in the 1960s. The newly-formed Redundant Churches Fund campaigned to save the whole building and latterly for the tower alone. The church eventually fell into disrepair and – except for the tower – was demolished in 1969.
The Friends of Friendless Churches paid for repairs to the tower – carried out by Marshall's – and the tower was formally passed to the Friends on a 99-year lease on 1st January 1974.
In 1990, further repairs, mainly to the cupola, were carried out at a cost of £5,800.
The tower still remains, standing opposite The Sun Inn at Lightcliffe.
The Lightcliffe stocks stood nearby.
A list of some of the Vicars of Lightcliffe is given in a separate Foldout
See Chantry, Gibson Charity, Lightcliffe Graveyard, Susan Sunderland and Richard Westmacott
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