BARNOLDSWICK: Barnoldswick Baptist Church History up to 1912.



At Barnoldswick we have the most ancient of our existing Yorkshire causes. Neal states that there were no Baptist Churches in Yorkshire in 1715, and Skeats, accepting the statement, says "I am aware that no existing Church in Yorkshire can trace its origin to this date." They were evidently unconscious of Barnoldswick and Bridlington, which, with Rawdon and Gildersome, can lay a valid claim to this distinction.* The history of the Barnoldswick cause is an inviting theme, but the story of its early days falls to the pen of another contributor to this volume. In the year 1800, from which date we continue its annals, Nathan Smith was pastor. In addition to his ministerial labours he was weaver, malt merchant, and school-master. He continued in his station for forty-one years, passing away, a venerable figure, in 1831. He was succeeded by Rev. J. B. Spooner, who having resigned in 1839, the Church for some time availed itself of the services of Rev. Wm. Fawcett, then residing in the neighbourhood.

In 1845, Rev. Thos. Bennett became minister, and as the old sanctuary became too small, the present chapel was built. It was opened in 1852, and, through the generosity of Mrs. Mitchell, the entire site was purchased for 7. Mr. Bennett continued at Barnoldswick until his death in 1886, when he was succeeded by Rev. E. R. Lewis (1888-93). During this pastorate the Church undertook the building of a new school, upon which it expended £1600. Mr. Lewis published an interesting volume on the history of the Barnoldswick Church. Rev. A. T. Brainsby was pastor from 1897 to 1904, and under his leadership the chapel was remodelled to its present form. In 1905, Rev. F. M. Buck accepted the pastorate, remaining until 1909.

During Mr. Bennett's ministry at Barnoldswick difficulties arose which were followed by the formation of a second Church, in 1868. The new community at first worshipped in "the new lathe," with Rev. James Wilkinson as its minister. He greatly endeared himself to his people, and in his term of service the new Church sent Roger Briggs and Benjamin Brooks to prepare for the ministry. Mr. Wilkinson was followed by Rev. N. Richards (1877-81), and a chapel was built. After the retirement of Mr. Richards the Church remained pastorless for fifteen years, but, at the close of this long vacancy, Rev. D. McCallum undertook the charge (1896-1900). He was followed by Rev. A. Nightingale (1900-04), and the present pastor, Rev. G. E. Towle. Last year the two causes united in a great and successful celebration of the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the Church. Five buildings still stand in the village to bear witness to Baptist progress :—the ancient barn, the cottage, the old chapel, "Bethesda," and the premises of the new Church.

* In January, 1689, at the Wetherby Sessions, the "Barn of Christopher Edmondson in Barnoldsweek" was registered for worship. The signatures to the application were those of "John Dickonson, Martin Dickonson, John Wright, John Dugdale, John Barrett." The same applicants obtained, at the same time, an order for the Barn of Thomas Cockshott in Kildwick. The Title deed which forms one of our illustrations, records the sale of this barn,—" one little barne" with other properties, by John Taylor to David Crosley, in 1694. "All which John Taylor did buy of Christopher Edmondson, Henry Higgin and Matthew Watson by virtue of one deed bearing date the eleaventh day of January in the twelvth yeare of the Raigne of our late Soveraigne Lord King Charles the Second," &c.

Transcribed by Colin Hinson © 2014
from the "Present Churches" section of
The Baptists of Yorkshire
by Rev. J. Brown Morgan
and Rev. C.E. Shipley