Not strictly a genealogy post, but certainly of local and historical interest to me and my Yorkshire ancestors.
This weekend I ventured back to Horbury to visit the parents. Sadly, my hometown was not quite its usual self. Structural problems have resulted in the demolition of the Methodist church on the High Street, and so it now stands, a half-unbuilt pile of rubble, looking like a bomb went off.
I can only imagine what a gaping hole there will be when the whole structure is gone. The building was huge and sort of stately – grand and beautiful as a church should be, but also unassuming, as if it had always been there and always would be. I regret now that I never went inside it or even spent enough time studying it.
I haven’t been able to find out much about the building’s history. It wass Victorian certainly, built in the Gothic style. Apparently it housed a memorial to William Baines (1899–1922), the Horbury-born pianist and composer, whose musical father had been an organist in the Methodist church. This plaque will now be moved to the former Primitive Methodist church hall.
I’m not sure whether this refers to the church hall that is located behind the now-demolished Methodist church, or elsewhere, because, as Stan Barstow explains: “There were four Methodist chapels within a couple of hundred yards along Horbury High Street”
He goes on to say of Horbury:
It hardly sounds like the Horbury I know – it has a lot of pubs for such a small place, for one thing! I trust his judgement though, as I’ve never read anything that evokes my home town more than his novels Joby and A Kind of Loving.[It was] a puritanical town, of course. What other could it have been under that great weight of Methodism? Drink was a blatant evil, sex a vast unmentionable mystery.
In any case, it is true that the Methodist church building will always be a part of Horbury to me; it won’t quite be the same with it gone. I remember going to birthday parties in the church hall when I was a little girl, and taking the little cut through from Queen Street via Ring O Bells Yard that brought you out behind the church – it wasn’t a route we took very often, so it was always a bit of an event if we did. I believe my auntie got married in the church, but I have no idea whether any of my more distant ancestors were of Methodist persuasion.
Lastly, I send my best wishes to the members of the Horbury Methodist congregation, and hope that they can soon raise the funds necessary to build us a beautiful new church to fill the void.