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History of St. James' Church, Thornes

Thornes Parish Church was built in 1831 to provide for the spiritual needs of our growing population.The Industrial Revolution was just beginning to gain its full momentum in the West Riding and in the next 40 years the population was seen to double. St. James was one of the many Churches built in our part of the World between 1830 and 1880.

Mr Benjamin Gaskill applied for a grant from the Million Fund, a fund established after the battle of Waterloo as a thank-offering, and used to assist in the provision of places of worship where the need arose. A grant of £1000 was made towards the building of a Church at Thornes and apart from a few donations the remainder of the expense was covered by the Gaskill family.

On Sunday 17th October 1830 the newly completed Church was opened for divine service under the licence of Vernon Harcourt, Archbishop of York. The morning service was conducted by Reverend S Sharp, Vicar of Wakefield, and the afternoon service by Reverend Joseph Twentyman who became the first Vicar of Thornes. The consecration of the Church took place on October 12th in the following year.

Priests at St. James'

From the Church being built in 1830 there has been 18 Vicars but in the early days there were countless Curates. The old Vicarage of Thornes was built in 1840 at a cost of £800. Most of the money was raised in a grand bazaar in the music saloon, now the city museum, in Wood Street.

The longest serving Vicar of Thornes was the Reverend Edmund Ide Mack (1911-1936). During his time at Thornes the social life of the Parish grew and included whist drives, dances, parties, plays and concerts in the newly built Parochial Church Hall. His wife was greatly involved in arranging the plays and concerts.

Thornes Church at War

During the First World War, the Thornes Church Patriotic Club was established. Women in the Parish who had men in the forces were invited to join. Local firms donated knitting wool and a large amount of garments were made for the serving men. Weekly parcels were packed and sent to prisoners of war.

The Reverend T. W. Hogarth was Vicar throughout the Second World War. The Parochial Hall was used as a reception area for evacuees. Again the women came to pray, sew and knit while many of the younger ones joined the women’s services. In 1949 the Reverend C.H. Harris became Vicar and, as a result of the war, the Church had been sadly neglected. Father Harris was faced with a heavy repair programme and, as work progressed, more defects were found including dry rot ad woodworm thoughout the structure. This was to prove considerably expensive.

Our Present Priest in Charge

Our Priest in Charge at the current time is Reverend Martine Crabtree.

Want to Know More?

Want to send us a brief note or get in touch? Email us. thorneschurch@yahoo.co.uk