Following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, that ended the Napoleonic Wars, a movement gathered pace in England for the building of new churches to commemorate the War victories. As the movement grew larger, and opinions sought, it became obvious to members of the movement that a radical approach to the whole question of new churches, repairs to existing ones, and the siting of churches was called for. Of particular concern was the shortage of places for worshippers in the rapidly-growing towns of the West Riding of Yorkshire, where the cotton, and other new industries, had attracted large numbers of migrants from the countryside.

So it was, that in the Freemasons' Hall in London on the 6th February 1818, a meeting was convened, chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury. During the meeting the Duke of Northumberland proposed the formation of a Church Building Society (CBS), and was seconded by Lord Kenyon. A committee of thirty six was then appointed, which included eight future Commissioners.

The CBS lobbied parliament to provide funding for a radical church building programme, and were successful in 1818 when parliament passed the Church Building Act, and voted £l,000,000 to the building of new churches, to be administered by appointed Commissioners. This Act then became popularly known as the 'Million Act'. In 1824, Austria unexpectedly repaid a £2,000,000 war loan, which the government had already written off. This windfall resulted in a further £500,000 being voted to the coffers of the Church Building Commission. The Commissioners were also empowered to raise further sums by accumulating common interest and loan interest on the sums they administered, and by the reclamation of duty paid on materials used in the building of the churches.

ln parallel with parliament's efforts, the Church Building Society also raised funds, by voluntary subscriptions, towards the same purpose. During the 1820s the CBS had given its aid, for the most part, to those parishes which the commission was legally inhibited from assisting.

The CBS was, in reality, the Commission in the guise of the Church, as distinct from the State. The leading Commissioners usually sat also on the Society's committee.

In 1828, the government recognised the importance of the CBS and it was incorporated by statute, and became known as the Incorporated Church Building Society, or ICBS, but also by 1828 the funds available to both the Commissioners and the ICBS had all but run out, so parliament passed a further Act which abolished the practice of raising funds in churches for fires and other disasters, known as briefs', and replaced it by a mechanism known as the 'Royal Letter'. These were to be read out from the pulpit of every church in the Kingdom, and all money received was to be administered by the ICBS.

By the end of 1856, the total amount of money raised and spent on church building and repair by the Commissioners was £1,675,000, and by the CBS/ICBS an estimated £l,556,000. This total of over three million pounds had resulted in the building of 612 new churches, 106 of which were in Yorkshire, mostly the West Riding. These churches became known, if somewhat derogatorily, as "Commissioners' Churches", "Waterloo Churches" or "Million Act Churches". These were not the only churches to be built, of course, by any means. Mann calculated that 2,029 new churches had been built between 1831 and 1851, based on a study of the 1851 Ecclesiastical Census.

Yorkshire Churches Built with the Aid of the First Parliamentary Grant
ChurchRidingCost £Grant £Year
Alverthorpe, St. PaulWR8,082Whole1823-5
Attercliffe, ChristchurchWR11,89612,0411822-6
Barnsley, St. GeorgeWR5,963Whole1821-2
Dewsbury Moor, St. JohnWR5,918Whole1823-7
Earlsheaton, St. PeterWR5 301Whole1825-7
Hanging Heaton, St. PaulsWR4,811Whole1823-5
Leeds: Christ Church, Meadow LaneWR10,555Whole1823-5
Leeds: St. Mary, Quarry HillWR10,80911,0291823-5
Leeds: St Mark, WoodhouseWR9,637Whole1823-5
Pudsey, St. LawrenceWR13 475Whole1821-3
Sheffield: St. GeorgeWR15,181Whole1821-5
Sheffield: St. MaryWR13,92713,9411826-9
Sheffield: St. PhilipWR13 116Whole1822-7
Shipley, St. PaulWR7,9617,9921823-5
Stanley, St. PeterWR11,989Whole1821-4
Wilsden, St. MatthewWR8,1468,1741823-5

Yorkshire Churches Built with the Aid of the Second Parliamentary Grant
ChurchRidingCost £Grant £Year
Bridlington Quay, Christ ChurchER2,5461001840
Hull: St. James, MytonER5,3733,5911829-31
Hull: St. Mark, SuttonER3,8715001841-2
Hull: St. Paul, SculcoatesER4,0005001846-7
Scarborough, Christ ChurchNR6,6924,7331826-8
Whitby: St. John, BaxtergateNR3,1487501848-9
Whitby: St MichaelNR3 3001501847-8
Barkisland, Christ ChurchWRl,3501501852-3
Batley Carr, Holy TrinityWR1,8283001840-1
Battyeford, Christ ChurchWR1,7696911839-40
Birkenshaw, St. PaulWR3,310Whole1829-30
Bradford: St Andrew, North HortonWR2,4252001851-2
Bradford: St. Matthew, BankfootWR1,8672001848-9
Brampton Bierlow, Christ ChurchWR3,0001251854-5
Brighouse, St. MartinWR3,605Whole1830-1
Clayton, St. John the BaptistWR19031,0311849-50
Cleckheaton, St. JohnWR2,632Whole1830-1
Cowling, Holy TrinityWR1,8965001844-5
Cragg, St. John the BaptistWR1 8884521838-9
Crossland, South, Holy TrinityWR2,5882,2721827-9
Cross Stones, St. PaulWR2,8401,8401833-5
Cullingworth, St. John the EvangelistWR1,6605001851-3
Denholme Gate, St. PaulWR3,7005001843-6
Dewsbury, St. Matthew, West TownWR2,8612501847-8
Dodsworth, St. JohnWR2,5182501843-4
East Knottingley, Christ ChurchWR2,1662001847-8
Eastwood, St. Mary the VirginWR1,5232301854-5
Eccleshill, St. LukeWR2,6341,1141846-8
Embsay, St. Mary the VirginWR1,5001501852-3
Farsley, St. John the EvangelistWRl,5313001842-3
Golcar, St. JohnWR3,133Whole1828-9
Gomersall, St. Mary the VirginWR2,4661801850-l
Greasborough, St. MaryWR5,0772,0001826-8
Halifax: St. JamesWR4,196Whole1830-l
Halifax: St. Paul, King's CrossWR3,6503001844-6
Hebden Bridge (Mytholm), St. JamesWR3,047Whole1832-3
Heckmondwike, St. JamesWR2,805Whole1830-l
Hopton, St. JohnWR1,2451001844-5
Hoyland (dedication unknown)WR2,0761,0001830
Huddersfield, St. PaulWR5,700Whole1828-30
Idle, Holy TrinityWR3,115Whole1828-9
Ingrow, St. John the EvangelistWR2,1675001841-2
Kimberworth, St. ThomasWRl,5616001841-2
Kirkstall, St. StephenWR3,206Whole1828-9
Knaresborough, Holy TrinityWR3,2003001854-6
Leeds: All Saints, York RoadWR3,1663001849-50
Leeds: St. Andrew, Cavendish StreetWR3,9723001843-4
Leeds: St Barnabas, Brewery FieldWRl,6602501854-5
Leeds: St. John the Baptist, New WortleyWR3,4573501852
Leeds: St. Jude, HunsletWR2,6713001852-3
Leeds: St. Matthew, Camp RoadWR2,8512001850-1
Leeds: St. Matthew, HolbeckWR3,7353,3491829-30
Leeds: St. Michael, BuslingthorpeWR2,1703001852-4
Leeds: St. Philip, Wellington StreetWR3,3713001845-7
Leeds: St. Stephen, BurmantoftsWR2,6852001853-4
Lindley, St. StephenWR2,714Whole1828-9
Linthwaite, Christ ChurchWR3,1353,0351827-8
Lockwood, EmmanuelWR3,1473,0471828-9
Morley, St. PeterWR2,968Whole1829-30
Morton, St. LukeWRl,5505001849-50
Mount Pellon, Christ ChurchWRl,3601251853-4
Mytholmroyd, St. MichaelWRl,7393001847-8
Netherthong, All SaintsWR2,8672,5571829-30
New Mills, Christ ChurchWR3,7153,5251829-30
Oakworth, Christ ChurchWR2,0195001845-6
Ovenden, St. JohnWRl,0702001838
Oxenhope, St. Mary the VirginWR1,1992501849
Paddock, All SaintsWR2,706Whole1828-9
Pateley Bridge, St. CuthbertWR6,6122,0001825-7
Pudsey, St. PaulWRl,5702001855-6
Queenshead, Holy TrinityWR2,6135001842-3
Robertown, All SaintsWR2,0773001844-5
Sheffield: Christ Church, PitsmoorWR2 3122321849-50
Sheffield: St. Jude, EldonWR2,0702501848-9
Sheffield: St. Jude, MoorfieldsWRl,7503501849-55
Sheffield: St. Matthew, Carver StreetWR3,3632001854-5
Sheffield: St. Thomas, BrightsideWR2,8201001852-4
Shelf, St. Michael and All AngelsWR1,5272501849
Shepley, St. PaulWR1,7451001848
Somercotes, St. ThomasWR1,404101853
South Ossett, Christ ChurchWR2,0002001850-l
Stannington, Christ ChurchWR2,820Whole1828-9
Thornes (Wakefield), St. JamesWR2,0201,0001829-30
Thurgoland, Holy TrinityWR1 3001501841-2
Upperthong, St. John (Holmfirth)WR4,3402001846-8
Wakefield, St. MaryWRl,8633001853-4
Woodside, St. JamesWR1,9162001846-8
Wyke, St. MaryWR3,0505001846-7
Yeadon, St. John the EvangelistWR1,6053001843-4
York, St. Thomas, The GrovesWRl,970501853-4

Christchurch, Todmorden (1832) is missing from the aobve list. However due to change of County boundaries it may well have come under Lancashire at the time. There is a stone in the churchyard wall in Well Lane below Christchurch which reads "Yorkshire and Lancashire parteth here".The County boundary has moved several times. It is now several miles towards Burnley. [Sylvia Dawson, Feb. 2008].

Six Hundred New Churches. A study of the Church Building Commission, 1816-1856: M. H. Port

Sketches of the Religious Denominations of the Present day, ...(Abridged from the official report, 1851): H. Mann

The above copyright data was taken from the book
Yorkshire Parish Registers
and was presented to Genuki by the author:
Colin Blanshard Withers.