Friday, 16 November 2018

The History of All Saints Church

A Review of Alan Blackburn’s Towards the Century and Beyond: The History of All Saints Church, Elland 1949-2017, reproduced with permission from the Anglo-Catholic Historical Society’s Newsletter. The Book remains available from All Saints, or contact us via this Blog.

Towards the Century and Beyond: The History of All Saints Church, Elland 1949-2017 by Alan D. Blackburn 99 pages £12.50 inc. P&P from Mr Alan Blackburn 4 Bryan Road, Elland, West Yorks, HX5 0QZ Cheques to be made out to ‘All Saints, Elland, PCC’

The unusual feature of this detailed parish history is that it begins in 1949. The earlier years are described in ‘earlier works’, and reading this volume makes me want to find them. The Blackburn family has been associated with the church for most of its existence, and the author has lived through the period described in this book. There are many personal reminiscences and first-hand accounts that might have been lost; that is the most valuable aspect of the book. The foundation stone was laid in 1900 by Lord Savile, donor of the land, and opened with a service of Dedication in 1903. It was still incomplete, and the consecration was delayed until 1912 when it was debt-free. A large benefaction from first Rector, Canon E. Winter, made possible great improvements. The result was a truly magnificent building, but it did not become a parish church until 1983 when the Team Parish of Elland was formed, with St Mary’s Parish. The Team Parish was dissolved in 2012, when the ‘team’ consisted of just one stipendiary priest, and a united benefice created.

The book chronicles from a local perspective all the changes and developments to have taken place in the Church of England since 1949. A lot of very local material might appear irrelevant to some but this is real, grass-roots, history and it is extremely interesting to compare what was happening here with the ways in which the same issues were being dealt with elsewhere. Not just pastoral reorganisation but liturgical change, mission initiatives, clergy deployment and more. One thing that comes through is the enthusiasm and commitment of the people in a changing society, and their willingness to rise to a challenge—not least financial.

In the post-war years All Saints’ produced four ordinands: Clifford Green was later to join the Community of the Resurrection, at Mirfield; Morris Maddocks, son of a former Rector (1917 -43) became Bishop of Selby; Francis Chadwick had a long and varied parish ministry; Alan Chesters became Bishop of Blackburn. The influence of All Saints’, Elland, spreads far. A weakness of the book is the lack of photographs, but I am well-aware that these would increase the cost of production. Photos of some significant characters and events would have been good. Some special features of the building that might have been illustrated include the chancel arch with its eight statues of saints, the cloister and Cloister Garth now used for the interment of cremated remains. Also, high above, the Fleche, the maintenance of which has certainly caused some headaches, but it is a very important and distinctive local landmark, making the church unmissable. All Saints’, Elland was strongly influenced by the Oxford Movement from the start. A former Rector wrote in 1949: “...All Saints’ will continue to fulfil the prayer of its founder, Ernest Winter, to be a church wherein the Catholic Faith of the Church of England is fully taught and practised to the Glory of God.” It was—and is! Do add this book to your collection. Stephen Savage