The following is a copy of text from the
booklet by June M. Hargreaves M.B.E, published in 1976.
The History of Ickornshaw Methodist
Hargreaves M.B.E., Dip.T.P., M.R.T.P.I.
Published in May 1976 to commemorate the centenary anniversary of the
opening of the present Chapel.
As Minister of the Ickornshaw Methodist Church during the past five years it
gives me great pleasure to commend to all our friends this booklet compiled
by June M. Hargreaves M.B.E, in celebration of the centenary of the present
Ickornshaw (meaning squirrel wood) has a long history and for the past 180
years Methodism has contributed greatly to the life and well-being of this
This document will prove to be of permanent historical value. All who know
Ickornshaw will be proud and privileged to have a copy. It is good to read
history. It is better to make history. Let us set out to give the next
hundred years a great start in the fervent hope that The best is yet to be.
BENJAMIN PARKIN Superintendent Minister (South Craven Circuit)
The history of a small village Chapel cannot be separated
from the life of the people and the social context within which it was
founded and therefore although this handbook is intended to celebrate the
of a building, it will only succeed if it conveys to its readers the
loyalty and devotion of the people who have come within the influence of the
Methodist Chapel at Ickornshaw and who have found its
form of religion to be the medium that has brought them nearer
to a fellowship with Christ.
In 1976 the centenary of the present Chapel building is celebrated, but
Ickornshaw had been practised since 1795 when Abram
introduced Wesleyan Methodism into the district by establishing a
and maintaining it at his own expense, until his death on
February 1812. The first Methodist Society in the district had
in 1763 at Sutton in Craven, followed in 1784 by the establishment
of a Methodist Society at Cowling Hill. John Wesley himself paid
visit to Keighley in 1784, but Wesley's work had already commanded
support from a small group of clergymen, notably William Grim-shaw,
the Vicar of Haworth (and a predecessor of Patrick Bronte) from
his death in 1763. Grimshaw had preached the Methodist
passion and blunt speaking which must have appealed to the
temperament, and which resulted in astonishing success in the number of
conversions. He was subsequently appointed by Wesley to be
superintendent of the Haworth Circuit, where he had built his
Preaching House in 1758.
It is perhaps therefore not surprising that this part of Yorkshire should
witnessed the establishment of strong Wesleyan Methodist connections
when the movement was as yet only in its infancy.
2. EARLY METHODISM AT ICKORNSHAW
Abram Binns used a room at Ickornshaw as his Sunday School,
1812 (a year
which coincided with his death) additional properties were secured by the
purchase of two cottages and a smithy, so that the regular worshippers could
be accommodated in a Chapel which held 300 people. It is reported that in
1808 a new Methodist Circuit was formed with Adding-ham
as its head, and the Chapel at "Cornshaw" is recorded as having sent a
contribution towards the revenues of the new circuit where it remained
until 1869 when it was
incorporated into the newly-formed Crosshills Circuit.
It was not until 1845 that an Anglican Church was built in the village, as
prior to that date Cowling had formed part of the ecclesiastical parish of
Kildwick. In about 1840 the parish of Kildwick was divided, giving Cowling
its own independence as an ecclesiastical parish. Thus until this time the
spiritual needs of the village had been supplied by the Nonconformist
Chapels; the Baptist Chapel at Cowling Hill being the one, and the Wesleyan
Chapel at Ickornshaw being the other. The former appears to have been
founded about the beginning of the Eighteenth Century by David Crossley, who
as a friend of John Bunyan and George Whitfield, was reputed to be one of
the leading preachers of his day.
The old Wesleyan Chapel supplied the needs of the small community of
Ickornshaw and Cowling for over half a century until it was said to be "too
small and was much out of repair." Efforts were made over a three-or
four-year period to find a more suitable site for the building of a new
Chapel, and in 1874 it was unanimously concluded that the old building would
have to be demolished end a new chapel built in its place. Adjoining
property was acquired from John W. Smith of Colne who offered it at a cost
of £100, half of which he returned as a subscription towards the new Chapel.
The extra land was legally handed over to the Trustees, and Mr Smith's
friend, Mr Cowgill, gave £50 to cover the total land acquisition costs.
On Saturday the 5th June 1875 the ceremony of laying the foundation stone
was held in the presence of "a fair number of spectators." In the period
between the demolition of the old chapel and during the rebuilding of the
new one the Foresters' Hall, Cock Hall (now Colne Road) had been used for
worship, and on the day of the laying of the foundation stone, the teachers
and scholars "mustered" at the Foresters' Hall and marched to the Chapel
site in procession, led by the Evangelist, the Rev. Peter McKenzie, who
shouted with arms outstretched, "Glory be to God." On arriving at the site,
the Minister, the Rev. Geo. Wood, announced a hymn and the Rev. J. H.
Locksley read a portion of scripture after which the Rev. Peter McKenzie
offered up a prayer. The day was fine, and the Rev. G. Wood, having
introduced the distinguished guests, gave an account of the events leading
up to the occasion of embarking upon the building of the new Chapel. Some
four years previous to the event collections had been taken towards
replacing the old building, and Mr Wood announced that together with
subscriptions they had raised £1,200 towards a target figure of £2,000.
Although the actual building costs were not expected to reach the £2,000
figure, it was hoped to install some heating apparatus. This innovation was
to be an improvement on the old Chapel which had only a stove in the centre
of the ground floor, and which afforded but slight warmth in the depths of
Mr Wood described briefly the ideas of the Trustees for the new Chapel; it
was to hold 500 people and to have in addition teaching accommodation for
300 scholars, with vestry accommodation for Society and other purposes. Mr
James Lund of Malsis Hall had the honour of laying the foundation stone and
was presented with a silver trowel for so doing which was inscribed thus:-
"Presented to James Lund Esq. J.P. on his laying the stone of the new
Wesleyan Chapel at Ickornshaw (Crosshills Circuit) 5th June 1875." Mr Lund
was also presented with a walnut mallet, and after thanking the Trustees for
these gifts he said he felt it to be "no mean honour to lay the foundation
stone. No kind of building, however artistic in its architecture, was so
grand as the one where God's saving power was felt in the salvation of
sinners." Mr Lund concluded by hoping that God would crown the work which
they had witnessed that day with His blessing. Donations from Mr and Mrs
Lund, amounting to £100, were presented to the Trustees, and after addresses
from the Chairman of the District (The Rev. Mr Hartley) and from the Rev.
Peter McKenzie, the assembled company took tea in the Foresters' Hall.
3. THE BUILDING OF THE NEW CHAPEL
The specification for the new Chapel had been drawn up in February 1875 by
the Architects, Messrs Hargreaves and Bailey of Victoria Chambers, Bank
Street, Bradford. The builders appointed to carry out the work were Messrs
Bancroft and Gott of Cowling, and the joiner's work was carried out by Mr
Robert Sugden of Keighley.
The building materials were specified to be new ashlar in the native
sandstone (or Millstone Grit) taken from neighbouring quarries. The old
footings of the former Chapel were to be used where possible. Other parts of
the old building were incorporated in the new building, such as the steps
leading to the former Gallery being re-used for the entrance to the new
heating apparatus room, and the best of the flags were re-used in the
heating room, back kitchen and coal shute. Old stones from the previous
building were re-dressed and used for the plinth to the new Chapel. The new
stone was mainly from Earls Crag quarry, the bricks came from Colne and the
lime from Lothersdale.
Day books of the builders reveal the names of the masons engaged on the
contract and contain familiar-sounding surnames still surviving in the
village; for example, Isaac Bancroft, John Binns, John Whitaker, William
Emmott, William Richmond, Smith Bancroft, Joseph Binns, Heaton Slater,
Charles Benson, Joseph Teal, Joseph Gawthrop, James Emmott, Watson Nelson,
Smith Snowden, James Wormwell, Samuel Gott, John Simpson, John Gott, John
Bancroft, Holmes Gott, and Stephen Smith. The time-sheets show a charge of 4
shillings per person per day against the hours spent by most of these masons
during the months from May 1875 to April 1876.
On the 8th July 1876 the new Wesleyan Chapel at Ickornshaw was opened and
was described in the Keighley News as a "plain substantial building." The
interior of the building was said to be "very neat and well arranged, the
entrance being from the side furthest from the road. There is a gallery all
round approached by a staircase on each side of the corridor. It is seated
for 500 worshippers, with open benches, and the pulpit stands in front of
the organ and choir gallery. Underneath the Chapel is a school estimated to
accommodate 300 Sunday School scholars, which is divided into three rooms,
one large, and two classrooms."
The total cost of the building was £2,276 15s 7d and by the time of the
opening the amount raised had reached £1,300. The first sermon preached in
the new Chapel, on the Saturday afternoon, was by the Rev. W. O. Simpson of
Bradford, and on the following day two sermons were preached by the Rev. J.
Clapham of Sheffield. As not all the painting had been completed in the
Chapel, services were conducted in the schoolroom for a short time after the
The officers of the new Chapel in 1876 were as follows:- Secretary: John
Cowgill Trustees: William Watson
Thomas Smith Superintendents and Teachers: William Smith
Hannah Smith Local Preachers: William Smith )
John Smith ) Cowling
Holmes Smith )
Ishmael Clough - Sutton
David Longbottom - Silsden Caretaker: John Watson Choirmasters: John Smith
Simeon Redman Organists: Joseph Shuttleworth
4. THE INFLUENCE OF THE CHAPEL ON THE VILLAGE LIFE
Memories of the latter years of the old Chapel and the early years of the
new Chapel have been recorded, and reveal the significant role of the Sunday
School in the life of this rural Pennine village, which was very different
from its role in the present day. Scholars were sent regularly to Sunday
School by devout parents and there received instruction in general education
as well as in religious matters. Spelling tests formed a regular part of the
curriculum and scholars were also taught to read, and rewards for
proficiency were given. A penny was given to the best speller and the
scholar who reached second position in the class was presented with a
ticket; the collection of these tickets eventually entitled the scholar to
the gift of a book. Competition amongst the children was keen, as was the
discipline exercised by the teachers.
A record exists of the "Rules to be observed by Scholars" dated 30th October
1860 which serves to indicate the level of discipline exercised in those
1. The scholars shall attend the school at 9 o'clock in the morning and
3 o'clock in the afternoon clean washed and their hair combed.
2. The scholars shall be commanded to kneel at prayer, none shall be
allowed to sit.
3. No scholar shall go to the fire without the consent of his teacher nor
to the door without the consent of the doorkeeper and no more than
one or two at a time.
4. The scholars shall be commanded to walk soberly to and from
school, be civil to strangers and yield proper obedience to their
5. The scholars are desired to attend the morning service with two of
6. The morning service to close at 11.30.
In the same record, the part relating to "Rules to be observed by
Superintendents" contains the dictum that "The crimes of the scholars shall
be made known to the superintendent by the teacher and they shall determine
upon the punishment in which cruelty shall be avoided."
The Library contained in the new Sunday School was impressive, with a
recorded number of 432 volumes by 1880, most of which were said to be on
theological topics. In that same year there were 256 scholars attending
Ickornshaw Wesleyan Sunday School and the two sessions of the school were
still held on Sunday at 9 am and 3 pm. There were also 57 teachers
supporting the Sunday School.
These numbers need to be seen alongside the corresponding numbers of
scholars and teachers at other Chapels which had by that time become
established in the village for the same year, namely:-
The United Methodist Free Church (Bar Chapel)
144 boys, 133 girls and 60 teachers The Primitive Methodist Chapel
(Middleton) 50 scholars and 8 teachers.
To complete the picture and to set these figures in context for this time,
it should be noted that the population of the parish of Cowling in 1881 was
1,901 persons, thus nearly 40 per cent of the total population was closely
connected with one or other of the three Methodist Sunday Schools in the
village. These figures serve to indicate the tremendous influence upon the
whole community that the Methodist Church in its various facets exercised
over the life and social fabric of the village. It is further interesting to
note that in spite of the limited support for the Parish Church in those
days, the Vicar, the Rev. G. Bayldon, was both popular and respected by the
Nonconformists of the village. The fact that he was a teetotaller and acted
as Chairman of the United Temperance Society which met regularly at the Bar
Chapel, may have partly accounted for this bond, as may his added advantage
in the eyes of many Nonconformists of being a staunch Liberal.
A description of the village appearing in the Craven Almanack of 1888 refers
to most of the inhabitants being engaged in the manufacture of worsted goods
and to the village affording a striking example of progress during the
previous 50 years. The village was, in 1888, seen as being almost a model of
intelligence and thrift. The days of hand loom weaving in the early part of
the Nineteenth Century had been ones of financial difficulties when weavers
were paid fortnightly and there had been a tendency for the first week to be
spent idling and indulging in horseplay. The population was slightly less
than 2,000 people of whom about 400 were male adults, many of whom
generously supported the two public houses and five beer shops in the
village, and the people attending any place of worship were in a slender
minority. By 1888 all this had changed, the number of licensed houses had
dwindled and almost every household enjoyed comfort and dignity. The village
boasted five or six weaving sheds employing most of its working population,
and the villagers were keen investors in the Yorkshire Penny Savings Bank,
and were mainly owner/ occupiers of their own houses.
These changes in attitudes and life-styles had been influenced to a great
extent by the Nonconformist philosophies which affected most households in
the village, and towards which the establishment of the Chapel in Ickornshaw
had made a significant contribution.
Ickornshaw had formed a reputation for its religious revivals in the
district and each winter had a week of special "Revival Services". These
were always well attended and usually culminated in many young people of the
village going through the process of "conversion". One such person was the
Rev. John Gawthrop who was said to be a "typical product of the revivalist
era" and whose unorthodox methods and powerful personality made him one of
the most successful mission workers of his day. He gained a high place in
the Wesleyan ministry, conducting several large missions in various cities
and serving as pastor of important churches throughout the country.
No record of the early days of Methodism at Ickornshaw would be complete
without reference to the "Charity Sunday". This was the great event of the
year and was the Sunday School Anniversary. Special music was performed and
a stage was erected in the Chapel on which the girls from the Sunday School
sat, proudly wearing their white frocks. The "Charity" (or Feast Sunday)
attracted full congregations often to hear the powerful emotive preaching of
men like the Rev. Peter McKenzie and the Rev. John Gawthrop, the latter of
whom was a popular preacher in his native village.
The influence of the Chapel on the social and pastoral life of the village
has already been discussed and was manifested in many and varying ways. As
early as 1833 an Hereditary Society had been established and was carried on
at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Ickornshaw. The object of this Society was
"to raise by subscription or by voluntary contributions a fund for the
relief of its members during sickness or lameness" and to furnish means "for
the decent interment of deceased members." Although membership of the
Hereditary Society was not restricted to those persons connected with the
Chapel but was open to "all persons between the ages of 18 and 35 years", it
was nevertheless a rule that no one would be admitted to membership "who
will not fully promise never to vote for its removal to a Public House
licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquors, nor one who is a member of a
Society of a like nature." The Hereditary Society held its Anniversary Day
on the day following the Sunday nearest the 11th July, when officers were
required to meet at 7.00 am. The Society became a registered Friendly
Society on the 17th April 1860 and the signatories to the Rules were John
Laycock, Joseph Bailey, Christopher Snowden and John Fort (Secretary).
Many years later the Band of Hope was an active event in the weeknight
calendar of Ickornshaw Chapel and by 1882 boasted 140 members. It is
significant to note how strong the "teetotal" movement must have been in
Cowling at that time when the United Temperance Society was also meeting
regularly at the Bar Chapel with a membership of 150 and in addition to both
the aforementioned Societies was a United Band of Hope - doubtless drawing
its members from both Societies - which also met at the Bar Chapel and which
had 250 members.
Another weeknight activity in those days was the Wesley Guild, which met for
secular and devotional lectures on a variety of topics, and to which guest
speakers were invited.
On the 1st June 1895 the centenary of the establishment of the Wesleyan
Methodist cause was celebrated by over 800 invitations being sent to past
and present scholars. In the afternoon of that day a procession was formed
and a tour of the village ensued in the company of scholars from the United
Methodist Free Church (the Bar Chapel) in accordance with the custom at the
Whitsuntide festival. At the end of the procession the Wesleyan contingency
is reported to have returned to Ickornshaw where tea was served to about 400
people. A public meeting followed in the Chapel with the Rev. W. J. Hutton
presiding, and several old scholars appeared on the platform, including the
aforementioned Rev. J. Gawthrop and Mr John Binns, the latter being a
descendant of the founder, Abram Binns. The following day special services
were held and collections were taken towards the Centenary Fund "for the
raising of a mission place in another part of the township."
The "mission place" referred to was the erection of a small chapel at Walton
Street to cater for the growing population of that part of Cowling. The land
for this chapel was given by Mr Jonas Laycock and Mr Joseph Hutchinson in
1895/96 and a Trust was formed in 1895 and was almost the same as the
Ickornshaw Trust. The Mission was opened on the 9th April 1898 and remained
in regular use until January 1965 when the building was demolished to
provide the site of St. Andrew's Methodist Church (the replacement for the
5. MUSIC AT ICKORNSHAW
"Methodism was born in song" - so saith the opening words of the Methodist
Hymn Book, and from 1780 Methodists have had a definitive hymn book,
produced by John Wesley and containing large numbers of his brother's hymns,
entitled "Collection of Hymns for the Use of the people called Methodists".
It is not therefore surprising that a combination of this encouragement to
"sing praises to the Lord" from the founder of the movement, and the
apparently natural inclination of the people of Yorkshire to "enjoy a good
sing" should have resulted in a strong musical tradition at Ickornshaw.
The old Chapel contained an organ which was officially opened on the 20th
February 1858, having been built by J. Laycock of West Closes. The event was
marked by special services on the 20th and 27th February when Mr W. Pickles
of Bingley gave organ recitals including a selection of sacred music from
the works of Handel, Haydn and Mozart.
It seems probable that this organ was transferred to the new Chapel because
there is no doubt that the new building contained two organs, one in the
schoolroom (situated between the Library vestry and the steps leading to the
back kitchen) and the other situated centrally in the choir gallery of the
Chapel. The latter contained the inscription "Praise ye the Lord" and was
On the 15th May 1907 the Wesleyan Chapel Committee from Manchester consented
in a letter to the Minister (the Rev. R. G. Roberts, Crosshills), to the
erection of an organ in the Wesleyan Chapel at Ickornshaw at an estimated
cost of £400 on condition that "the entire expense was paid either before or
in connection with its opening, so as to bring no debt upon the Trust."
It would seem that that letter of consent arrived fortuitously in time for
the official opening of the new organ on the 18th May 1907, when a special
Dedication Service was held at which the Rev. H. Mudie Draper of Bradford
was the preacher, and a public tea followed. The same evening an organ
recital was given by Mr J. Armistead F.R.C.O., A.R.C.M., of Burnley. The
cost of the new organ and associated works were as follows:-
£ s. d.
360 0 0
Hydraulic Blowing Apparatus
40 0 0
Necessary Alterations and Renovations 97 0 0
Total £497 0 0
Towards this expenditure the following income was raised by the time of the
£ s. d.
Donation from Mr Andrew Carnegie
150 0 0
219 14 3
Sale of old organ
34 0 0
£403 14 3
The outstanding amount of approximately £93 was raised by March 1909, when
the Trustees are reported as having a balance of £3 18s 0½d left from the
performance of "Messiah" after clearing off the organ debt. The specially
formed Organ Committee formally handed over the organ to the Trustees on the
24th February 1911 "free of debt" and the Committee was dissolved.
The alterations and renovations referred to in the account resulted from the
changes in the choir stalls which had hitherto been approached by two
flights of stairs, one on each side of the old organ. The new arrangement
resulted in the organ being built in two sections, one half on each side of
the gallery with a detached console in the centre of the choir stalls. The
new two-manual, tubular pneumatic action organ was built by Messrs Laycock
and Bannister of Crosshills, and the old organ was sold to the Chapel at
Carleton, near Skipton, where it still survives in an adapted form.
Associated with these alterations was the introduction of the centrally
placed stained-glass window on the south elevation above the choir stalls,
dedicated to the memory of Elias Redman and John Binns.
The opening of the new organ must have been regarded as an important
occasion for Ickornshaw because apart from the events described above, on
Saturday 18th May 1907, special musical services were held on the following
day and the next weekend saw another organ recital on the Saturday, this
time by Mr R. Barrett Watson, Mus.Bac, F.R.C.O., followed on the Sunday by
another two musical services.
At the Annual General Meeting of the Trustees held on the 6th March 1908 it
was agreed to dispose of the old organ in the schoolroom, although no
indication of its destination is given.
The new organ has been overhauled several times since its installation in
1907, the most recent time being in 1968/69 when the original builders -
Laycock and Bannister - renovated it at a cost of £395.
The organist in the old Chapel had been John Smith and the choirmaster David
Cowgill. Of the four organists appointed to the new Chapel, Thomas Gott was
organist in 1884 and was superseded by Fred Pickles who retained the post
until 1901 when J. W. Shackleton took over the appointment and held it until
1910. For a short time thereafter the post was held by James Jackson of
Steeton, and then in September 1911 Mr Watson Dawson was appointed organist,
a post he retained until his retirement in December 1955. Since that time
Mrs Mary Robinson has been the organist and still occupies the position, and
for a period of 15 years until July 1971 Mrs Gladys Gott was the
Mr John Smith (known as John o' Donny's) took over the role of conductor in
the early years of the new Chapel and was assisted by Albert Shuttleworth,
James Stansfield and Alfred Benson, until 1897 when Mr Richard Hoyle was
appointed to the post, and retained it until 1914. Mr Hoyle later served a
further period in the same position from 1924 to 1930. Mr Robert Taylor
served as choirmaster from January 1915 until 1924. In 1930 the post was
held by Sam Dawes and Josiah Barker took it over in 1932. The latter
continued to serve until 1942 when Mrs J. Fryer took over, a position which
she held until 1945. Since that time the conductor has been Miss Alice
Whittaker (later Mrs C. Smith).
This account of the principal leaders of the musical tradition which
Ickornshaw has enjoyed over the last century demonstrates in no small
measure their loyalty and the deep sense of service which they have given
both in time and talent to enliven the services. Furthermore, the musical
reputation of this Chapel - as indeed of many others - has brought a wider
musical repertoire and a deeper love of serious music to both performers and
listeners than many would otherwise have the opportunity to develop.
The use of the "Anthem" or "Chorus" as part of the service seems to have
first appeared in the last decade of the Nineteenth century. Certainly
hymn-sheets from the old Chapel do not reveal anything other than
"revivalist" and sometimes rather fearsome hymns.
The popularity of the Oratorio seems to have come later, firstly by selected
works from the Oratorios of Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn and later by
special services at which a complete work was performed. Amongst the
repertoire of oratorios which have been performed since the early part of
the twentieth century are Messiah (Handel), Creation (Haydn), Elijah
(Mendelssohn), Hymn of Praise (Mendelssohn), St. Paul (Mendelssohn), Samson
(Handel), Judas Maccabeus (Handel), Crucifixion (Stainer). The annual Choir
Festival is the occasion for the performance of one of these works, and with
an augmented choir consisting of helpers from neighbouring villages, this
event has retained its appeal as a stimulating event in the spiritual and
cultural life of the Church.
6. JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS 1876-1926.
In February 1925 a special Sub-Committee of the Trustees was formed
(consisting of A. Teal, E. Gott, D. Binns, W. H. Stansfield, A. Cowgill and
F. Redman) to make the necessary arrangements to celebrate the 50th
Anniversary of the present Chapel. The days chosen for these celebrations
were the 8th and 9th May 1926. It was decided in 1925 to mark the event by
redecorating the Chapel, and in view of the heavy expenditure involved "all
interested in this place of worship" were asked to give a weekly
contribution until sufficient money was raised. In January 1926 Stephen
Duckworth was appointed Treasurer, and A. Cowgill and Francis Redman joint
Secretaries of the Jubilee Fund. Tenders for the decoration were invited and
the successful tender was granted to Mr Jas. Rushton of Cowling at the sum
of £173 0s 0d.
It was at this time also that the Trustees considered the use of two cups
only for the Communion Service, a discussion which subsequently led to the
purchase of the tray of individual cups for use at the Communion Service
which are still in regular use today.
The Jubilee celebrations coincided with the General Strike, but in spite of
travelling difficulties, large congregations gathered at both afternoon and
evening events. The afternoon service was conducted by the Rev. W.
Wakin-shaw of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, assisted by the Rev. J. Naylor and the
Rev. W. Rhodes. The former explained that a sum of £300 was required to meet
the debt incurred resulting from the thorough renovation of the Chapel. By
June 1926 the Treasurer of the Jubilee Fund reported to the Trustees that he
had sufficient money to clear off the accounts, leaving a credit balance
which enabled the Sub-Committee to purchase new carpet for the Preachers'
vestry and linoleum for the choir vestry.
The celebrations included an old scholars' re-union and the Chapel was
reported to be crowded. Various speakers recalled the changes that had
occurred in the previous 50 years and some compared the "indescribably hard"
benches in the old Chapel with the more comfortable conditions appertaining
in the new building.
One speaker who had been invited but who was absent from these celebrations
was unquestionably the most noteworthy former scholar of Ickornshaw Sunday
School, the Rt. Hon. Philip Snowden, M.P. Philip Snowden had been born in
Middleton in July 1864 and had attended the Wesleyan Methodist Sunday School
and Chapel with his parents whom he described as "closely associated with
and devotedly attached to the local Chapel." In his Autobiography (written
in 1934) he recalls his "happiest recollections of years of constant
attendance" at Ickornshaw, and notes that he still had prize books in his
possession which showed that he was never absent from the Sunday School over
a period of five years. Philip Snowden had advanced from learning to spell
and receiving his early influence in religious education in the Sunday
School to become a Member of Parliament for Blackburn in 1906. He later
became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924 and again from 1929 to 1931 when
he was created a Viscount and took as his title Viscount Snowden of
Ickornshaw. It is surely no coincidence that in the Encyclopaedia Britannica
entry for Philip Snowden he is reported to have been "a powerful advocate of
The message sent to the Jubilee Celebrations of Ickornshaw by this most
famous of its sons was as follows:- "I am very sorry not to be able to get
to your Jubilee Celebrations in connection with our dear old Chapel at
Ickornshaw. The place is hallowed by many sacred memories, and I with many
others who were scholars in the Sunday School there, have felt through life
the good influence of our association with it. I remember as clearly as if
it were yesterday the laying of the foundation stone of the present Chapel,
and also the closing services in the old Chapel. I am sure my dear Mother
and Father who were deeply attached to Ickornshaw Chapel would have wished
that I should show my affection for the place, and I do this in their memory
and on my own behalf."
His deep attachment to Ickornshaw was, in 1937, to be further demonstrated
when the ashes of Philip Snowden were scattered on Ickornshaw Moor.
7. RECENT HISTORY
In any historical account it is frequently most difficult to recount the
more recent events; this is partly because they have not yet fitted into
their place and cannot be viewed in perspective; it is also due to the fact
that these later events are within the scope of many living memories and
therefore cannot be viewed as objectively as earlier events.
Perhaps most significant in the life at Ickornshaw has been the fact that
since 1944, when the four local circuits were amalgamated to form the
Crosshills, Silsden and Cowling Circuit, the Methodist Churches in Cowling
have shared a resident Minister. Previously Ickornshaw received its Ministry
from visiting clergymen from the Crosshills Circuit of which it had formed
part since 1869.
The Ministers associated with the Methodist Churches in Cowling since 1944
are as follows:-
Eric Bilton, 1944-47
Joffre R. Smith, 1947-51
Frederick Blundred, 1951-57
Kenneth Tibbets, 1957-61
Frank Cope, 1961-64
E. W. Guthrie Burgess, 1964-71
Benjamin Parkin, 1971-
The Ministry of these men has been ably supplemented by the services of a
team of Local Preachers from the Circuit whose loyalty over many years has
provided a valued part of the spiritual life of the Chapel.
As family sizes have declined and diversification of employment has caused
people to move away from the village, congregations and especially the
number of Sunday School scholars have declined. Add these factors to the
decline in church attendance generally and it is not surprising that the
last 30 years have caused the Trustees to concentrate on maintaining the
financial stability of the Chapel, whilst at the same time keeping the
building in a good state of repair. The redecoration of the Chapel in 1959
(by L. Riddiough of Crosshills) at a tender figure of £246 was supplemented
by the redecoration of the remainder of the interior of the building by
voluntary labour, bringing the total cost to £345. The boiler was changed
from being coke-fired to oil-fired in July 1966 (by Messrs Lambert and Green
of Silsden) at a cost of £290.
Throughout the post-war years a band of loyal workers, most of whom have had
life-long associations with Ickornshaw, have given of their time and their
various skills to ensure that the flame of Christianity which has blazed for
181 years in this remote part of Yorkshire should continue to influence the
lives of men and women.
There is a French saying: "In your efforts to go forward you must search
back." This brief account of the history of the Methodist Church at
Ickornshaw will have fulfilled its intentions if it serves as an inspiration
to the faithful congregation to go forward into the latter part of the
twentieth century with renewed hope and with a willingness to adapt to the
changes that this changing society will impose, and at the same time to
maintain the best traditions of the noble heritage of the Methodist Church
in its continuing search for the Grace of God.
'The grace of God is the centrepiece of the whole Wesleyan theology."
Rupert E. Davies (Methodism - 1963)
The Author wishes to acknowledge the assistance given by the following
people who have supplied historical data and records: Holmes Gott, Alice
Smith, Malcolm Smith, Kenneth Tibbets, and Clarence Wilkinson. The etching
of Ickornshaw by Daniel Binns - a former superintendent of the Sunday School
- is reproduced by kind permission of his widow, Mrs E. Binns. An especial
thanks is due to Mrs Florence Fort whose personal recollections of the
events at Ickornshaw extend to almost 80 years.