Monday, 8 March 2010

A local Pugin Church

St Anne's Church, Keighley
Keighley (pronounced KEEthlee) is a town not far north of Halifax and we normally moan about its town centre as we navigate the heavy traffic on our way to the Yorkshire Dales. At first glance – or second or third, come to that – it has little to make anyone linger and Bill Bryson, in his book ‘Notes from a Small Island’, asks why the British Army uses beautiful countryside for target practice when it could use Keighley. He was joking, I hope.

The wider Parish includes Haworth, where the Brontes lived and also some of the Stations on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, as well as East Riddlesden Hall which is a National Trust property and it turns out that the town centre does have its little gems when we visited St Anne's Church a few days ago.

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin was an Architect and designer who is best known his work on the Houses of Parliament and especially the clock tower, better known as Big Ben.

Photo by David Iliff licenced under Creative Commons
St Anne’s was his first church design. The Church opened in 1840 and in 1846 another influx of Irish immigrants arrived to escape the potato famine.  By 1886, the Catholic population was 3,000 and 600 children attended the school next door. By 1907, the building had been extended to almost twice its length and the altar moved to the West end – very unusual
Now, the Church needs more work to keep the fabric of the building from crumbling. That is the price of good architecture..

The Church was locked when we arrived but the Parish Priest let us in through a side door and left us to wander and take photos. He even gave us a booklet produced for the 150th anniversary. Thank you Canon Gilligan.

The official Keighley website does not mention this historic building (or not that I could find!) but I found a dizzying panorama on this site. The Church has its own website and, if anyone has a few thousands of £s or $s to spare, I'm sure they would be grateful.
As ever, there are more pictures in my Picasa Albums.

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