Haworth Church History
The current St Michael and All Angels church in Haworth has been there since the 14th and 15th centuries.
There is some belief that a religious building might have been there before then. We do not know if this is true because there is no evidence for it.
1317 – an Archbishop’s registry at York showed a decree was issued commanding the rector and vicar of Bradford, as well as the freeholders of Haworth, to pay for the salary due to the curate of Haworth Chapel.
1488 – A new chapel was built.
The oldest part of this church still survives today and forms the base of the tower. The tower of the church has been raised twice and features clocks on each side, including one with four faces.
1742 – William Grimshaw became curate of Haworth Parish Church. He had been a friend of John Wesley and preached diligently some 30 times weekly.
He left his services to drive men out of the many pubs at the top of Haworth and guide them back to church. Haworth legend says he used a whip men, in order to encourage them to leave the pubs and go into church.
1755 – As Grimshaw’s preaching attracted up to 500 people at a time, the church was enlarged to accommodate the increased numbers of parishioners that wanted to come and listen.
1820 – Patrick Bronte accepted an invitation to become the Haworth parish priest and moved into the parsonage with his family. As the parish priest for this area, he often spent many hours walking among his congregation in neighboring villages.
He baptised an average of 290 people per year, but the mortality rate was high with the average life expectancy of just 22 years old.
As 40% of children died before the age of 6, Bronte performed over 100 funerals each year. The graveyard at Haworth Parish Church holds an estimated 42,000 burials, many of these graves were for entire families including infants.
1845 – Arthur Bell Nicholls, who would later marry Charlotte Bronte, arrived in Haworth. Due to Patrick’s failing eyesight, he took over most of the official church duties.
1861 – Patrick Bronte died at the age of 84, outliving his entire family and having served as Parish priest for 41 years. He is the longest serving incumbent of Haworth Parish Church.
1879 – it was decided to take down the old church building and build a new one. This provoked a national uproar as Haworth and the church had already become an established place of pilgrimage for Brontë enthusiasts.
However, it was also discovered that the building was deteriorating and unsanitary because rainwater from their graveyard was seeping into it. Construction then began.
1879 – The foundation stone for the church was laid on Christmas day by Michael Merrall, a local mill owner who donated £5000 of the £7000 needed to build it. A number of the stained glass windows inside the current church are dedicated to Michael Merral and he was honored by his friends and family.
1964 – the Bronte Memorial Chapel was dedicated by the Bishop of Bradford. Funding came from Sir Tresham Lever Bart – a member and donor to the Bronte Society.
The communion table, chandelier and Bronte memorial tablet are salvaged items from the church before it was rebuilt.
Haworth Parish Church continues to serve the needs of its worshipping congregation, and welcomes guests from all over the world.
2011 – the Church building was subject of a substantial restoration program which included repairs to both its north and south roofs at a cost of 650,000 pounds.