Looking back at 500 Years of worship
Coley Church, a Grade II listed building, is situated at 210 meters above sea level on a site that is a landmark, visible for many miles. The three stage tower is a particularly spectacular skyline feature which can be seen from some distance. The church was built on this site as a chapel-of-ease to the mother church at Halifax from joint contributions of Northowram, Shelf and Coley in the Lord’s Rent in the graveship of Hipperholme. The scheme for a chapel and priest in the township of Hipperholme was initiated in 1499 and started in 1513. William Thorpe of Hipperholme, around 1495, thought not only of the distance that he had to travel to Halifax Parish Church, but that it would be a good thing for the Hipperholme township to have its own church, where parishioners could attend mass and listen to the service of God, without entailing a long journey which, under wintry conditions, left much to be desired. The Church was known as the Chapel of Coleye and was possibly dated 1513. It was enlarged and pewed in 1596 and again in 1631 and 1711. In 1711 there had been extensive renovation and reconstruction at both east and west ends of the chapel, which were commemorated by plaques on the stonework. These plaques are still in the clock-chamber in the tower, having been put there in the renovation of 1902. In 1816 the present building was erected to a design by William Bradley. In 1902 it was completely renovated and restored by Hodgson Fowler. It is constructed of hammer-dressed stone with a clock tower at the west end over the deep set west doorway. This tower has an embattled parapet and belfry openings. Inside, the church has a wide nave in the style of gothic revival. There are three aisles and arcades are formed by tall slender octagonal fluted columns with moulded capitals and pointed arches. To the west there is a gallery with a large Royal Coat of Arms set within an arch-headed recess. There are two further Royal Coats the latest dated 1820 of George III. The church heating system was installed in the 1902, upgraded in 2010, and the church roof was replaced in 1966. Coley Church has several examples of the superb craftsmanship of the well known Jackson Wood Carvers and joiners of Coley. Of particular note is the parclose paneling separating the vestry on the north side of the chancel and the carving in the sanctuary completed in 1941.
Coley Church Community: Not just a building
When our Christian faith is challenged we must speak out. We demonstrate our faith in our lives by living through Christ and showing how much the cross means to us.
We know that the cross is empty because Christ has risen. You don’t need faith to join us – you just need an interest in what we offer, faith will come in time. We are sinners just like everyone else, as such we aspire to overcome the “holier than thou” image so often perceived as part and parcel of faith.
We have the same needs and the same faults as everyone else and strive to be open, friendly and caring. We all worship freely, guided by the Spirit, using modern language that we can all understand. Most importantly, we are happy in worship – church is not a doctor’s waiting room! Many people are searching for greater meaning in existence and need more of God in their lives. Churches are often stereotyped as “organ funds”, focused on money. We are not about ‘appearance’ or what looks good; we are a community of friendly people challenging the stereotypes of ‘church’ in everyday situations. Discussing aspects of our church building and suggestions to make changes is right. However, we must not forget that: WE ARE THE CHURCH