History

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Some historical Photos

Click here for a history of the parish probably written in the 1950s

Click here for a List of Rectors of Hemsworth

Click here for A Brief History of the Monuments and Memorials in the Parish Church of S Helen, Hemsworth

We are Grade II listed building.  Click here to read the listing.

Click here for some further historical information and details of how to access the church.

Some Significant Dates in History of the Parish of Hemsworth

Evidence to suggest there was probably a stone church on this site from between 750-800

William is named as priest of Hemsworth in a document dated 1160 – 78

14th Century present chancel built

14th century Simon Balderstone founded chantry chapel of St Thomas Becket

15th Century present Lady Chapel built

1555 Archbishop Robert Holgate formally of Hemsworth died leaving lands for the erection of a hospital for the poor persons fully sixty years of age, or else blind or lame, or who by grievous infirmity of body or by excess of labour shall be afflicted or affected, or by loss of their temporal goods, not happening through their own default, or by any other unforeseen misfortune, shall have come to know misery, want or penury – incapacitating the candidate from earning his or her livelihood.

1662 Rector Stephen Charman resigned because he declined to comply with the terms of the Act of Uniformity, passed after the restoration of the Stuart monarchy.

1685 Robert Wrightsonacquired the patronage of Hemsworth.   He famously ‘threw out’ the Puritan Rector the Revd Steven Ludlam from the living and installed his own choice in the Parish, the Revd Henry Farrar, who set about restoring the church.  The Battie-Wrightson family held the patronage for 300 years.

1812-1813 Extensive rebuilding including the removal of Norman arches on the North side.

1828 Norman Nave pulled down

1841 Vestry constructed and alterations made to both Chancel and Lady Chapel

1857 Archbishop Holgate Hospital transferred to new buildings in Robin Lane.

1868 roof of the nave removed with the clerestory and the level of the chancel considerably raised.  Tower, South Aisle and porch rebuilt.  Work carried out by John Loughborough Pearson

1884 (24th January) The ‘ancient’ yew in the church yard lost some of its noblest branches during a gale.  A tablet was subsequently erected.

1886 Nathaniel H J Westlake commissioned to make windows for the Lady Chapel.

1888 The fine carved oak screen that separates the sanctuary from the Lady Chapel, is carved from wood brought here from Westminster Abbey by the son of the Abbey ‘Master of Works’ Mr. Wright

1905 During the ‘Kinsey Evictions’ The Rev Robert H Gilbert feeds hundreds of miners and their families.

Lady Chapel was restored for worship as a memorial to the men of the parish who died in World War I.  It was rededicated by Archbishop Lang of York.  There are 173 names on the memorial.  More information can be found here.

1928 Hemsworth together with deaneries of Hemsworth and Pontefract join the diocese of Wakefield.

1938 Congregation of the Free Methodist Chapel in Common End joins the Church of England. The building is dedicated by Dr C R Hone, bishop of Wakefield on 28 September.

1952 peal of bells augmented to eight as a memorial to the men of the parish who died in World War II

In the mid 1990s S Helen’s was used to for a church scene in the film ‘Brassed Off’

S Helen's in Brassed Off 1

2014 The Diocese of Wakefield was disbanded and Hemsworth came into the Diocese of Leeds.

2015 The parish became affiliated to The Society (under the patronage of S Wilfrid & S Hilda).

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