The petition having been sent to the Archbishop of York, asking for permission to pull down the old church and to erect a new one, a list of names were sent to Mr Richard Mackley, Proctor, of York to be by him presented to the Archbishop, from which the latter could choose commissioners to enquire into the matter. The names of these gentlemen were the following:- Sir George Armitage, of Kirklees, Bart.; William Horton, of Chadderton, in the county of Lancaster; Joshua Horton, of Howroyde; Musgrave Briscoe, of Height; Richard Richardson, of Brierley; and Samuel Lister, of Horton, Esqs.; Dr Geo, Leigh, vicar of Halifax; Mr William Lamplugh, vicar of Dewsbury; Mr Samuel Sykes, vicar of Bradford; and Mr John Watson, curate of Ripponden.
The Commission received from His Grace the Archbishop of York was dated the 25th day of May, 1761, and concluded as follows:-
"That no detriment may accrue to the Mother Church of Halifax aforesaid, or the said chapel, or to the parishioners and inhabitants of or within the same or either of them, we have thought fit to issue this our commission impowering you, or any five of you, to take a view of the said chapel and new purchased piece of ground adjoining the said chapel yard, and enquire into the truth of the facts set forth in the above petition".
On the 4th of June, 1761, five of the above gentlemen (the commissioners appointed) having examined the old church and the ground then recently purchased made a return to the Lord Archbishop of York certifying that the old church was in a bad state of repair, and placed in an inconvenient situation. The commissioners were Sir Geo. Armitage, Bart., Richard Richardson, Musgrave Briscoe, Joshua Horton, Esqs, and the Rev. John Watson (the Halifax historian).
Again quoting from the memoranda made at the time by George Stansfeld, Esq., I find that at a meeting of the subscribers for rebuilding Sowerby Church, the meeting being held at the house of John Garnett, the King's Head, on the 11th of June, 1761, it was ordered.
"That John Wilson be allowed and paid for getting, dressing, scouring, and setting the steps to go into the galleries, sixpence per foot, superficial measure. That Mr Jas. Whitworth ,master of Sowerby school, be appointed, and he is hereby appointed, in the place of John Lumb, deceased, to confirm all orders and resolutions of the subscribers at their meetings, by signing the same in the book, in the presence of five or more subscribers."
The license to take down the old church and build a new one, received from his Grace the Archbishop, was dated the 22nd of June, 1761, and was addressed
"To our well beloved in Christ John Welsh, clerk, curate of Sowerby, in the parish of Halifax, in the county and diocese of York, George Stansfeld, David Waterhouse, Israel Wilde, John Priestley, Richard Thomas, John Lea, Wm. Moore, Joseph Wells, Jas. Riley, John Walker, Jas. Greenroyd, Elkanah Holroyd, Wm. Starkey, and Thomas Swain, inhabitants of and within the township of Sowerby aforesaid, greeting."
It was resolved at a meeting held November 24th, "That Mr John Sutcliffe be paid for the oak timber wanted from him at 1s. 6d. per foot, to be delivered at the Church."
At a meeting at Widow Garnett's, the 2nd July 1772, pursuant to adjournment, "Mr Tillotson paid for the pew No. 51 below, for Breck, £5 5s."
On Thursday, the 16th July, 1772, Mr Tillotson paid the rest of his 10 subscriptions, £1 5s. Mr John Tattersall paid balance of Church lay (rate) for 1771, £18 16s. 5d.
The Mr Tillotson here named lived at the Breck. He was the son of Joshua Tillotson (a nephew of the Archbishop), who married Martha, daughter of James Stansfeld, Esq., of Sowerby.
The following is a list of the subscriptions of £5 and upwards towards building Sowerby Church:-
|Geo. Stansfeld Esq||200|
|(for three of his sisters)||100|
|John Priestley, sen. And John Priestley jun.||100|
|George Stansfeld, for John Lea||50|
|Geo Stansfeld for Miss Tillotson||5|
|Geo Stansfeld for E Stansfeld||5|
Afterwards Mr Wood, of the Street, subscribed £5 5s., and Mr Israel Wilde, of Deerplay, £5. There were a large number of subscribers of smaller sums, and the total amount received, including the proceeds of the sale of the material of the old Church, amounted to £1,804 15s. 7.3/4d. It must be remembered that this amount would represent about three times the value it does at the present day, as is evidenced by the cost of labour and material in erecting this Church.
To show the rate of wages, &c, 120 years ago, the following items amongst other "small charges" may be given
|May 21||Opening a road from Slack to the Long Causeway,|
|one day, 31 men, and 1s.||8d.|
|July 24||Mending Road to Moor, 4 days||0||4||0|
|March 19||Two men, six days, getting Foundation stones||0||13||6|
|Sept 3||For getting Stones in Snape Wood, leading, and|
|laying them in the foundation of the Steeple||11||13||9.1/2|
|Leading Stones for the Steeple, - To G Stansfeld,|
|for man, three horses, and cart, three days||0||13||6|
|labourer 4 days||4||4|
|April 15||Man, 2 horses and cart, 1 day, leading Sand||3||6|
|D Garnett, for himself and son, one day||2||2|
The entire cost of building, Sowerby Church was £2,909 12s. 8.3/4d After the subscriptions has been expended, George Stansfeld, Esq., advanced the money as it was required; and in addition to his large subscriptions, he afterwards contribute a very large proportion of the total cost.
The contractors for erecting this Church, with the amounts of their contracts, are shown in the following summary of the whole accounts;-
|Timber for deals||604||12||11.1/2|
|Timber for seats||38||12||0|
|John Emmet, glazier and plumber||128||5||0|
|John Wilson, mason's work||817||15||5|
|Carriage of stones||158||13||2.1/2|
|Joshua Wilson (shed walling 3s. a rood) &c||5||13||0|
|John Cockroft & Co. getting and dressing|
|Carriage of stones||27||14||9|
|Nathaniel Exley, plasterer||120||17||6|
|J & J Wilson, masons||10||14||7.1/2|
|William Bradley, joiners work||186||6||3|
|Total cost of Church||£2,909||12||8.3/4|
When the old Church was pulled down, the east window and other portions of the ancient fabric were purchased by George Stansfeld, Esq. and he had them removed to Fieldhouse, where they were again erected. Ever since that time these beautiful remains of Sowerby old Church have been carefully preserved, and today are objects of interest and beauty. The fine gothic arch of the east window divided into 27 lights by finely carved mullions, and having a circular light in the centre of the arch, is rendered more picturesque by the dark green foliage of the ivy by which it is mantled. The belfry, one side of which rests on the apex of the window and the other is supported by two pillars which rise for a considerable height from the ground, was formerly placed on the centre of the roof, but as it was subsequently feared that it would be too heavy for that position, it was removed to its present place. The longer a visitor views the symmetrical beauty of this piece of architecture, the more he admires its excellent proportions and its finely finished details. Two bells are hung in the belfry, one is dated 1770, and the other 1796, so that they could not have belonged to the old Church at Sowerby. One cannot but admire the feeling which led the owner to preserve these memorials of the old Church from the hand of the spoiler.
The two beautifully designed pillars, with caps, at the entrance to the new Sowerby Town House are stated by those who know, to be correct representative of two pillars which were removed from Sowerby old Hall, the property of John Rawson, esq. and which probably were about the same age as the old Church.
The new Church (the present one) was dedicated, like the last, to St Peter, and was opened for divine worship January 3rd, 1763, though it was not consecrated until many years afterwards.