The archives of the Church of St. John the Evangelist consist of .5 linear feet of material, including correspondence, manuscripts, documents and related printed ephemera, regarding its founding and construction in the township of Clifton. The papers, dating from 1856 to 1862 and arranged in chronological order, constitute the earliest records of this parish church, located near Mirfield, Yorkshire.
Before 1856, the inhabitants of the township of Clifton worshipped in a church in the village of Hartshead, despite the fact that the church could only accommodate one ninth of the population of both villages. However, in 1856 the Rev. Thomas Atkinson, incumbent of Hartshead cum Clifton, and the people of Clifton, decided that a new church should be built in Clifton. A committee for the erecting of the new church was organized to coordinate and oversee the efforts of the construction. This collection constitutes the files of Joseph Rayner, a solicitor from the firm Fenton, Jones, and Rayner, and treasurer for the building committee.
The committee also included noted figures of the time. Indeed, the chairman was the well known businessman and liberal politician, Henry Wickham Wickham (1800-1867). Wickham, a lineal descendant of the famous William Wickham, Bishop of Winchester in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, was also an M.P. for Bradford, Yorkshire from 1852 to 1867. In addition,h e was a partner in the Low Moor Iron Works, and chairman for the Quarter Sessions from 1842.
The correspondence covers all aspects of the building program, from early discussions about the new parish, to the actual construction and funding of St. John, including the debate over the hierarchical status of the church with regards to the older parish of Hartshead, and the consecration of the new chapel by the Bishop of Ripon (1819-1899), owner of over 3,000 acres, and donor of the land for the construction of the church. There are also letters from other donors and subscribers, including Lord de Saumarez, and from architects James Mallison and Thomas Healey. The papers are further enriched by letters from workmen, contractors, and craftsmen participating in the building of the church. In addition, there are numerous accounts detailing the costs and the procedures of the construction.
The collection also includes letters from ecclesiastical authorities such as the Bishop of Ripon and his secretary and Sir James J. Chalk (1803-1878; for a full account of his career see the DNB), secretary of the Ecclesiastical Commission in London, to whom the committee for the erection of the Clifton church appealed for funds on various occasions. Also regarding fundraising, there is correspondence from several secretaries from charitable organizations such as the Incorporated Society for the Enlargement, Building, and Repairing of Churches and Chapels and the Marshall's Trustees. In addition, there are also letters from neighboring clergymen, namely Rev Joshua Fawcett, Rev. John Birch and Rev. Thomas Allbutt.
The Archives of the Church of St. John the Evangelist provide not only valuable biographical information about the individuals involved with the construction and founding of the church but also important knowledge about Yorkshire local history, British architectural history, and British ecclesiastical history.
Conditions governing access note
Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.