Parish Church
Saint John the Baptist, Halifax

This Foldout looks at Halifax Parish Church and its history

General history

Halifax Parish Church is dedicated to St John the Baptist.

The present mid-15th century building stands on the site of an earlier Norman church built around 1120 by the monks of Cluny from the Priory of St Pancras at Lewes and granted between 1086 and 1095. It is one of the largest and most impressive late mediæval churches in West Yorkshire. It was consecrated around 1140.

The aisles were added about 1290.

Extensive work was done on the Church during the period 1430-1480, in the time of Thomas Wilkinson. Only the north wall remains from that time, and that is inside-out because it was probably a part of the south wall.

Those who gave money towards the rebuilding included

During the Civil War, soldiers and their horses were billeted in the Church. The Parliamentarians smashed the windows, broke up the organ, damaged the statues and moved the font into the churchyard.

After the capture of Dr Richard Marsh in the 17th century, the church funds were confiscated and the church had to be supported by local people for some time.

The crypt at the east end takes advantage of the sloping ground. There are said to be tunnels beneath the church which lead to the Union Cross Inn, the Talbot, and the Ring O' Bells.

In her journals, Anne Lister refers to this as the Old Church.

In 1850, the vicar sold the Vicarage to the railway company.

During the incumbency of Rev Dr Francis Pigou, the interior of the church was altered. In his autobiography, he mentioned

the high square pews in which it was whispered in my ears that rubbers of whist were sometimes played

It was also recorded that the church was

delapidated, dusty, foul, strewn with human remains, and no better than a charnel house

In 1878, Sir Gilbert Scott and his son John Oldrid Scott carried out extensive restoration work at the church. They reduced the height of the pews, removed the galleries, removed all the plaster from the interior walls, and refurbished the railings around the  churchyard.

The church reopened on 7th October 1879.

In 1997, a £2,000,000 scheme was proposed to restore the church.

The adjacent building is the Sunday school which is now used as a public hall

Halifax Parish Church Day School stood in Dispensary Walk.

The records for the Church are held at the West Yorkshire Archive Service office in Wakefield (Collection WDP53): Baptisms [1538-1977], Banns [1785-1842], Marriages [1538-1981] and Burials [1538-1937].

In November 2009, the church became a minster, the Minster Church of St John the Baptist

Things to look for

When you visit Halifax Parish Church, look out for ...

Odd Facts about the Church


Those who have been churchwardens at Halifax Parish Church have included


© Malcolm Bull 2023
Revised 15:49 / 28th November 2023 / 14436

Page Ref: MMP432

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