If you want to delve deep into history then Honley is the place to explore.
For detailed writings from a woman who lived there in the 1800s have just been published ... and they give a fascinating insight into life in a Huddersfield village at that time.
Mrs Mary Jagger, well known as the author of A History of Honley published just over 100 years ago, has been revealed to have recorded more of the village’s past in the wonderfully-named Some Account of the Parish Church of St Mary’s Honley by Mrs Mary A Jagger
Peter Marshall, leader of Honley Civic Society’s history section, has uncovered a history of St Mary’s Parish Church which the redoubtable lady wrote in 1888.
He said: “I was browsing the books of an antiquarian bookseller in Idle, near Bradford, when I found the work, published by J Horsfall Turner in his Yorkshire Notes and Queries of 1890.
“Mary Jagger had first had the history published in a series of articles in the Huddersfield Daily Chronicle two years previously.
“She gives the background to life in the village up to the erection of St Mary’s present building in the 1840s and the improvements undertaken in the 1870s and 1880s.
“We learn about the animosity of neighbouring villages to the new church, the strict control exercised by the churchwardens and donations by parishioners of a new organ and windows.”
The noted clergyman, Charles Drawbridge, who oversaw the building of St Mary’s in 1843, was a much loved vicar and additional material covers his obituary.
The text is true to Mary Jagger’s writing and includes her comments on the life and times of the church in late Victorian times. Several present day photographs illustrate the interior of the church.
Here are some extracts from Mary’s book.
Talking about the role of the Honley chapel and churchwardens from 1685 to 1881 she wrote: “The duty of keeping in order the unruly spirits of the village fell to the lot of the constables and churchwardens.
“It was a weekly custom to visit the extreme ends of the three parishes – Honley, Netherthong and Crosland – for the purpose of putting a stop to Sunday drinking out of the prescribed hours and other misdemeanours of a like kind. Their shadows almost served to frighten away all children at play during divine service, as well as other Sabbath breakers of a larger growth.”
And in the English Civil War Honley villagers paid the ultimate price.
Mary wrote: “In the great civil warfare between Royalists and Roundheads the village would send many a sturdy volunteer to take part in these bloody battles. As at present, the fringe of Whitley woods was in view of the old Chapel; and the brave Beaumont, who fought so gallantly for his King, must have had many a Honley youth in his train.
“Charles Nettleton of Honley, who was a companion of Captain Horsfall of Storthes Hall, was in Sir John Ramsden’s regiment. He fought for the Royal cause at the battle of Marston Moor. Those who took the side of the Parliament, would fight as nobly in its cause.
“We could fancy how the village folks, all more or less akin, as they are to this day, would watch the departure of their warriors; wishing them God speed and victory. Then we can imagine the sorrow and silence of the welcome back to those defeated cavaliers, perhaps many of them who had set out, left dead on the battlefield of Marston Moor. And many a good yeoman’s family, would welcome back their Roundhead son who had been spared to them; or mourn over one also left dead on Marston Moor; the summer’s moon shining down upon the white upturned faces of both Cavaliers and Roundheads. I cannot think that the sturdy yeomen of Honley, who took part in the great civil strife, either sung many battle-psalms, or sported any love-locks.”
But the church also had its somewhat ‘local’ battles.
“In 1807 the animosity of Netherthong and Crosland was very strong towards Honley for electing a churchwarden against their wishes. The congregation was now ambitious to remove the organ from the east end of the chapel to the west end. Netherthong and Crosland also strongly opposed this removal. The three townships went to law; the sturdy Churchwarden, the late Mr. Thomas Leigh, valiantly leading Honley. But Honley was defeated; and their ambition to see the organ at the west end was not to be gratified until later on.”
The old church closed on January 9, 1942 and the foundation stone for its replacement, St Mary’s Parish Church, was laid the next month. It took a year and eight months to build, opening on Thursday, October 26, 1843.
* Published by Honley Civic Society the booklet is on sale in the village and at the community fair street market on Saturday, June 6. The 40 page booklet costs £5.