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CHRIST CHURCH

 

Harrogate, associated with Bilton, a village adjacent, was formerly a Chapelry in the parish of Knaresborough, but is now ecclesiastically a district parish in the Wapentake of Claro, Union of Knaresborough, Deanery of Boroughbridge, Archdeanery of Richmond, Bishopric of Ripon, and archbishopric of York. The united parish of Bilton-cum-Harrogate was eleven miles in circuit; but a considerable diminution took place when Bilton was made a separate parish by an order of her Majesty in Council, dated August 27th, 1857. Up to the middle of the last century there was neither church nor chapel in Harrogate, and the inhabitants who wished to attend Divine worship had to go a distance of three miles to Knaresborough. This great inconvenience was at length remedied by the building of St John's Chapel, which was situated on the Northern side of the present church. This chapel, in a very short time, seas found to be incapable of holding the increasing congregation, and it was determined to remove it, and build a church more in accordance with the increase of residents and visitors. St. John's was therefore taken down, and its consecrated relies now form, as nearly as possible in the same style, the Independent Church on Prospect Hill. Christ Church arose in its place. The present church belongs to no particular styles of architecture. It has neither chancel nor side aisle distinct. from the body of the church. It is pleasantly situated on the Stray, and is provided with a clock with three faces, the very useful gift of William Sheepshanks, Esq. The date of consecration of this church is October 1st, 1831. The church has sittings in pews or on benches for 1,250 persons, 800 sittings are free and unappaopriated. The free pews are indicated by the word free being painted on the doors. The cost of building this church was about 4,000, which amount was raised by subscriptions and sale of pews, aided by the grants from the "Society for Building and Enlarging Churches." Underneath the church there are catacombs.

Considerable additions were made in 1863, viz. :-

A North and South transept, a chancel, an organ chapel, and vestry. The work is designed in the early English style of Gothic architecture, and is of more elaborate and ornamental character than the older portion of the structure. Internally, however, the appearance of the old building has been greatly improved by taking down the old flat plaster ceiling, and filling in the roof principals thus exposed, with open tracery work, after which the whole has been stained and varnished to correspond with the new portion of the building.

A lofty central arch, decorated and enriched, and two subordinate side-arches, open out the connection between the old and new portions of the church, and the central arch is repeated at the chancel. The or-ran chapel also opens out into both transept and chancel by arches, well relieved by mouldings. Low and open stalls or benches fill the transepts and the choir, to be lighted with handsome standard lights. The East and the South transept windows are filled in with beautiful stained glass, and the wall behind the altar under tile East window is covered by a handsomely carved and enriched reredos, and the floor within the altar rails laid with encaustic tiles of rich pattern.

The internal effect of the church is much admired. The approach to the galleries in the old portion of the church has also received attention, and two spacious stone staircases now give easy and convenient access, formerly so great a desideratum.

The stained windows consist of the triplet East window, each division of which is a memorial to departed townspeople, and have been so placed by the desire and at the cost of surviving friends. The window in the South transept is in memory of the late Prince Albert, and has been subscribed for by a few of the inhabitants of High and Low Harrogate and members of the congregation of Christ Church. Both windows were executed by Messrs. Warrington and Sons, of 42, Upper Berkeley Street, London. The subjects emblazoned on the glass are as follows :-

Turning to the East window, the first compartment on the left represents "Bearing the Cross" and the "Raising of Lazarus." The inscription underneath reads :-

"In Memory of MARY, wife of HENRY FORBES, Esq., of Harrogate. She died October 9th, 1860, aged 63 years."

The centre compartment represents "The Nativity", "The Crucifixion" and "The Ascension," with the following inscription below:-

"To the Glory of God, and in Memory of JOHN GREEN PALEY, Esq., of Oatlands. Died Oct. 9th, 1860, aged 82.By his Daughter, ANN PALEY."

In the right hand compartment the subjects are "Noli me tangere" and "Raising the Widow of Nain's Son."

The words below are as follows:-

"In Memory of FOUNTAIN and FRANCES BROWN, of Harrogate.The former died March 15th, 1851, age 1 80 years; and the latter March 21st, 1861, aged 82 years."

The South transept window represents six different subjects, illustrative of the following Scriptural passages, &c. :-

"Give me understanding, that I may learn Thy Commandments."-Psalm cxix. 34.

"Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine." - Psalm cxxviii. 3.

"In the morning shall my prayer prevent thee." - Psalm lxxxviii. 13.

"Sympathy with the sick and afflicted." - Psalm xxxv. 14.

Armorial Bearings of her Majesty QUEEN VICTORIA.

Armorial Bearings of the late PRINCE ALBERT.

In 1863 two stained windows were placed in the North transept, presented by Basil G Woodd, Esq, of Hampstead, and his sons; and the subjects are the choice of Charles H L Woodd, Esq. The artist was Mr Wailes, of Newcastle-on-Tyne. Each light contains three medallions, the subjects of which represent water in its various uses and applications as contained in the Scriptures. In this respect they are in strict congruity with the character of Harrogate, so justly and widely celebrated for its mineral waters. The filling up between the medallions is of an elaborate arabesque pattern of various colours. The subjects of the medallions are as follows :-

"Moses Striking the Rock in Horeb, and the Water flowing therefrom."

"Naaman, the Syrian, dipping in Jordan."

"The Baptism of Christ in the River Jordan."

"The Pool of Bethesda."

"The Samaritan Woman at the Well of Sychar."

"The Pool of Siloam."

These two windows are in memory of the Rev R. Mitton, for fifty-six years Incumbent of Christ Church, High Harrogate, and the Rev H. Mitten.

The living is a Perpetual Curacy. Formerly the minister was appointed by the Vicar of Knaresborough, but since 1851, when Harrogate became a district parish, the patronage has devolved upon the Bishop of Ripon. The value of the benefice is exactly 145 10s per annum, of which sum 54 are contributed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the remainder is derived from grants made by the Duchy of Lancaster and Queen Anne's Bounty. The first Incumbent, the Rev Robert Mitten, held the living for the long period of fifty-six years, and was succeeded by the Rev T Kennion, MA., who was again succeeded by the Rev Thomas Sheepshanks. On the removal of the Rev T Sheepshanks to the Perpetual Curacy of St. John's, Bilton, the Rev Canon James, KA., of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, was appointed, and is the present Incumbent.

The hours of Divine service at Christ Church are : Morning, eleven o'clock; afternoon, half-past three o'clock; evening, seven o'clock; and in summer, on Wednesday evenings, at seven o'clock,

The headstones and tombstones in the churchyard are very numerous, and many of them handsome. Trees have been planted round the entire boundary of the burial ground. Those on the North side have gown up, and now almost conceal the body of the church. On the South side the trees are of younger growth, having been planted by the last Incumbent ; when fully grown they will add much to the picturesque beauty of the locality, and the church itself will sit embosomed in bright green foliage, with its towers and pinnacles standing out alone against the clear blue arch of the vaulted sky.

Temple of holy worship ! thou hast been 
To many a wanderer dear beyond compare!
Of weary, broken, contrite hearts the scene!
The trumpet of salvation flourish'd there, 
And set the captives free ! 0 freedom rare ! 
Heaven's hosts are multiplied! a ransom found ! 
Who comes to claim it, then? Hearer of prayer, 
Send forth Thy Spirit! let Thy grace abound ! 
0 stranger! heed thy steps, for this is holy ground!'


 
 
 

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