Over one hundred years ago, a clergyman preaching at Hoyland St. Peter’s Church alluded to the conspicuous position of Hoyland, and especially of the Parish Church as a “City set on a hill”.

The Ancient Parish of Wath-Upon-Dearne

Hoyland and Wentworth once formed part of the ancient Parish of Wath- upon-Dearne. However , the Mother Church, All Saint’s Church at Wath, was about five miles away from Hoyland, and it was a difficult journey, for the roads were simply rough cart tracks, often filled with water.

It would appear that the few inhabitants of Hoyland, would go to “The Chapel of the Trinity”, a Chapel-of-Ease built at Wentworth and dating back to the 12th century. It was still a demanding journey, for those who wished to use its services; and bodies for burial had to be transported over rough farm and field paths, to be placed in consecrated ground.

Sometimes a shortcut to the Chapel led through a private park, but to use it a fee of 1d (a “corpse penny”), had to be paid. Two examples of this charge can be found in the Wentworth Account Book:

  • 8th October 1815 – The body of Joseph Turner of Greasborough, to pass through Wentworth Park – 1d.

  • 21st December 1816 – The corpse of Samuel Sykes of Elsecar, to pass through Skiers Hall grounds – 1d.

Improved communications, the opening of new burial grounds, and possibly the devaluation of the penny, led to the disappearance of this charge.

The Lawsuit of 1630

Although most inhabitants of Hoyland and Wentworth would attend the Chapel-of-Ease at Wentworth, they still had to pay certain dues to the Mother Church at Wath. In 1630 there was a lawsuit about the contributions from Wentworth and Hoyland to the Church at Wath. It related to an old paper of 1507 based on the fact that “The Chapelry at Wentworth (including Hoyland) had always paid a third part towards the cost of bread and wine at the Easter Communion at Wath”. Wentworth and Hoyland folk were indignant about this payment, and believed it to be an unjust assessmen

The Townend Family

A family called Townend had properties and land in the Hoyland Township in the early 17th century. In 1605, a Richard Townend of Blacker died, and in his will he left two properties and land at Upper Hoyland. In 1632, his nephew Thomas Townend, who had inherited the properties and land at Upper Hoyland, left these to his son and heir Richard. To his younger son Thomas, he left Stead Farm at Hoyland, which he had previously purchased from a Mrs Watts of Wortley. In 1634, Richard Townend purchased more lands in Hoyland from a Lewis West, Archdeacon of Carlisle. Most of this land was to be found lying between the present Hawshaw Lane and West Street, stretching down the hill towards Market Street.

Richard was an important person in the Hoyland area, being made Chief Constable of the Wapentake of Strafford and Tickhill in 1659. So the Townend family were prominent in the Hoyland Township, and in time owned lands around Stead Farm, Upper Hoyland Hall, Hawshaw Lane Farm, Blacker Grange Farm, Woodhead Farm (Wombwell), Woodhouse Farm (West Street, Hoyland), Fork Royds (land at the end of Market Street) and other properties at Worsborough and Dodworth.

Richard died in 1688 at the age of 81 years, and Margaret died in 1709 at the age of 75. Local historian, Arthur Clayton, when his research into the Townend family began in 1936, helped to remove turf, which covered several of the Townend gravestones, which lie flat on the ground in the ruined nave of Wentworth Old Church. Richard and Margaret are the first two named on the gravestone.

The Building of Hoyland Chapel

Sometime about the year 1720, Thomas T ownend, who had inherited the Townend estates, and like his father, had become the Chief Constable in 1703, donated part of the land called Law Close for the building of a Chapel-of-Ease. The Chapel was built in (or near) the year 1720, and is first mentioned at a Visitation held at Sheffield on 26th June 1721.

The Endowment of the Chapel

In order that the Chapel could be maintained and eventually consecrated, it was necessary for endowments to be made for future upkeep. So, the Chapel was endowed in the following manner by the Townend family:

In 1722, Joshua Townend of Stead Farm bequeathed four sellions of land (unenclosed strips of land) in the Law Side Field.

In 1732, Thomas Townend of Upper Hoyland Hall bequeathed the major part of Law Close, on which the Chapel had been erected in 1720. Also, he bequeathed eleven strips of land and an enclosed farm in the Law Field, which would go to the minister of Hoyland Chapel, provided the Chapel was consecrated, and that the Townend family could have the nomination of the minister. He also bequeathed to his two servants, Elizabeth and Jane Stenton, lands called the Elsey Royds and an enclosed farm adjoining the Town Field in Hoyland, which after their deaths would become the property of the Chapel.

In 1732, Ann T ownend bequeathed to the Chapel, K endal Green Garm in Worsborough Dale. The rents from these lands and properties to be given to the Chapel at Hoyland when consecrated.

Also in 1732, when Richard Townend, the brother of Thomas, inherited the Townend estates at Hoyland, he donated his farm at Ben Bank, Dodworth, and £200 towards the living at Hoyland Chapel. This amount of money was met by a similar sum of money from Queen Anne’s Bounty later in the year 1741.

The Consecration of the Chapel

There was a need for the Chapel to be consecrated, so that a minister could be appointed, and the Church licensed for proper services including christenings, marriages and funerals, and the churchyard could be used for burials.

The first sermon proper was preached on the 11th June 1735, but the Chapel was not consecrated until 19th November 1740, after petitions were made by Richard Townend, and his widowed sister, Mrs Elizabeth Walker.

A formal petition was made through the Rev. William Twitty, vicar of All Saint’s Church, Wath-upon-Dearne. It went to Dr. Conybeare, the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, who held the Patronage. Before permission was given for consecration, letters were sent on the 13th August 1733, and the 9th November 1733, requiring an answer to the petition.

Eventually permission was obtained and the consecration took place on the 19th November 1740, in a service lasting three-and-a-half- hours, performed by Martin Benson, the Lord Bishop of Gloucester. The deed of consecration conveyed the right of nominating a curate, to Mr Richard Townend and his heirs.

The first incumbent appointed in 1741, was the Rev. Christopher Stephenson (1741-1753), educated at Jesus College, Cambridge, and who was in addition to his priestly duties, also a schoolmaster at Rotherham.

Each year two churchwardens were appointed (one to represent the Church, and one to represent the Township). They were sworn in by Justices of the Peace, and one of their duties appears to have been to see that people attended Church, and received the Holy Sacrament, when it was administered, which was four times a year. The first churchwarden to be appointed was Mr Richard Townend.

Sadly, on Sunday 11th December 1743, Richard Townend died and was buried the Tuesday following in the South West angle of the Chapel Yard, according to his wishes. The family coat of arms was carved on his tombstone and he was described as a “Gentleman”. Elizabeth Walker, Richard’s sister, lies in the same grave, and Francis Townend of Blacker, a brother, who died on the 13th December 1754, aged 88 years, is buried close by.

The Early Church

In 1743, the curate, the Rev. Christopher Stephenson, reported to the diocese, that there were 90 families in the Chapelry. There were no dissenters, no meeting houses, no public schools, no almshouses, and no parsonage. However, Lord Milton of Wentworth Woodhouse maintained a Charity School at Hoyland Lane End, to teach English, writing and accounts to such boys and girls that are thought proper to send.

The first register bought from Sheffield in 1741 is interesting in that it shows Hoyland Township to be almost a self-contained farming community. As all village registers must be, they contained a simple record of family life – birth, marriage, parentage and death. Only one name was bestowed on a child, without exception, and the most popular names for girls were Mary and Elizabeth. For boys, the favourite names were Richard, John and William.

Between 1754-1757, the registers show burials of children from the Foundling Hospital in London. Children sent to the country to be brought up and apprenticed like “Oliver Twist” in the novel by Charles Dickens. Recorded were the names of Charles Hanover and Edward Tudor, obviously influenced by the names of the monarchy.

In the various entries, the occupations of the inhabitants were recorded, and there were craftsmen including tailors, shoemakers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, carpenters, masons, besom makers and butchers, as well as the schoolmaster, exciseman and an apothecary. Other people recorded were farm labourers and nailmakers.

The death of a “poor stranger” was recorded, illustrating that at period in history it was the Parish overseer’s job to make sure that poor, homeless people were moved on from Hoyland Township.

The third incumbent, the Rev. Thomas Bright (1759-1768), also vicar of Ecclesfield Chuch, reported to the diocese, that there was still no parsonage at Hoyland in the year 1764, but that Mr Richard Townend the patron of Hoyland, was to give a house in Hoyland for the use of the Johnson’s, who lived at Manor Farm, Hoyland.

The first Church does not seem to have been rich in possessions. We can assume that the Church had a belfry, because a Terrier (inventory), dated 1770, records that there were “three bells but no clock”. Also there were “one small Bible, one large Common Prayer Book, one Surplice, one large Silver Cup (gift of Richard T ownend), one Pewter Flagon, and one Pewter Salver . In the Chapel Yard, a small yew tree, three bad ash trees, and three sycamore trees, lately planted.”

Queen Anne’s Bounty

The Chapel received several augmentations from the governors of Queen Anne’s Bounty. As already mentioned, £200 in 1741, to meet the benefaction of the same amount by Richard Townend. In 1831, another £200, and in 1823, £200 to match further donations. In 1824, there was a further amount to match three donations of £200 each, given by the Rev. Francis Maude (1823-1850), who had become the new incumbent in 1823, on the 3rd August.

The Parsonage

The monies donated in the year 1824, were perhaps not only used for the Chapel, but also for the building of a parsonage, because in 1825, there is the first mention of a vicarage, which was made of stone with a slate roof, dining room, drawing room, study, kitchen, storeroom, and scullery below stairs. No mention however of how many bedrooms.

The Right of Presentation

In 1779, the properties and lands of the Townend family of Upper Hoyland were put up for sale. And the right of presentation, which meant that the owner of the lands could nominate their own minister, passed to Issac Leatham of Barton in the Street, Yorkshire, who had acquired Fearnley Grove Farm and the Chapel lands.

Three years later, by an indenture of the 1st June 1782, the right of presentation passed onto Samuel Phipps, who had bought the same property and land.

By an indenture of 1822, on the 25th July, it passed to Earl Fitzwilliam. The indenture read “The right of presentation would become void in the lifetime of the Hon. Augustus Phipps, by the death, resignation, reversion or deprivation of Rev. James Dixon the present incumbent of Hoyland Chapel.” As noted earlier, the new incumbent on the 3rd August 1823 was the Rev Francis Maude.

Archbishop Harcourt’s Visitation

The first Church at Hoyland served the needs of Hoyland Township for almost a century, but in Archbishop Harcourt’s Visitation report of 1829, mention was made of the Old Chapel being in a dilapidated condition after a fire. So the report goes on to say that, “The Old Chapel had divine service performed in it for the last time on Christmas Day 1829.”

The Building of the Present St. Peter’s Church

In the first Census of 1801, the population of Hoyland was given as 823 inhabitants. During the next thirty years the population had doubled. The 1831 Census gives the number of people in Hoyland as 1,670.

Work was to be found in ironstone and coal mines, as well as the Milton and Elsecar ironworks, brickworks, and the canal wharves at Elsecar.

To assist Parishes such as Hoyland, where the population was increasing, several acts of Parliament had been passed to assist with Church building, and Hoyland Parish qualified for a grant of £1,000.

The foundation stone was laid for the erection of the present Parish Church on Monday 18th January 1830, by the Rev. John Lawe, the domestic Chaplain to the Earl Fitzwilliam.

The cost of the Church was £2,076 – 14s-9d. The Commissioners paid £1,000, and Earl Fitzwilliam gave a loan of £1,076 – 14s-9d. The loan was to be paid off by the sale of coal which the Earl would mine from under Township land. So, on the 5th February 1834, Earl Fitzwilliam agreed with the Overseers of the Poor in Hoyland, and others including the Hon. Edmond Phipps, General in His Majesty’s Army, to get Barnsley Bed Coal from under Gams Greaves and Common Clough, which would help to pay off the loan.

Rebuilding took place on the same site as the first Hoyland Chapel, and as was the practice at that period, much of the old fabric of the Chapel was used to build the new Church.

Charles Twigg writes in his book “Village Rambles (1878)” – “The new Church at Hoyland was built on the same site as the old one, whichwastakendownabouttheyear1829. ThepresentChurchisa pretty little edifice with a towering spire, in the style of architecture, and has three sweet-toned bells.”

The Church appears to have been built in true village tradition, with the use of local labour. John Blackburn was paid sums totalling £280 for his contract for carpenter’s work. George Miller was paid £750 for mason’s work. Cornelius Royston, a worshipper at St. Peter’s, was paid £50 for blacksmith’s work. These payments were made between the 7th June 1830 and 31st March 1831.

The Opening of the Church and Transfer of Endowments

The new Church was opened for Divine Service on 31st July 1831 – just 19 months after the closure of the Old Chapel. The Rev. Francis Maude had been a participant in the two phases of the Church’s development – the end of the Old Chapel and the building of the New Church. A willow tree planted by him in the parsonage garden is said to have come from the grave of Napoleon.

On 9th May 1837, the endowments which had been bestowed on the Old Chapel were transferred to the New Church. The three bells bearing a date 1735 had also been transferred. The spire of the Church was visible for miles around, and shared the same hill top as the Hoyland Law Stand, built by the 1st Marquis of Rockingham in 1750.

The Hoyland Law Church School

In 1837-1838, a piece of ground some on hundred yards away from the Church, on the opposite side of Hawshaw Lane, was donated to the Church by Earl Fitzwilliam, and a “Day School” was built. The incumbent was responsible for educating the children in the faith.

Apathy in Religion

In 1841, Elsecar and Hoyland were described as “One of the worst places for drunkenness and irreligion.”

In 1851, a Religions Census was taken, but only 25% of the population attended Divine Service on the “Census Sunday.”

In 1864, the incumbent at St. Peter’s Church, who had taken office on the 4th October 1850, the Rev. John Cordeaux (1850-1873), said in his Visitation Return: “There is much intemperance, and a low standard of morals. The public houses are greatly in excess of the requirements of the people. There are ten beer shops or soul destroyers.”

He also records that 94 children attended Sunday School, but few young people stayed on within the Church. Services were not well attended, only 15 communicants turning up on average. He said that some people complained at the distance of the Church from their dwellings. He felt that a curate as needed, who could take services in other parts of the Parish.

Revival Through Endeavour

The Rev. John Cordeaux was obviously a man of vision and motivation, because during his time at St. Peter’s Church, he did his best to remove the apathy of the Parish towards religion. Unfortunately in 1857, a farmer called Methley in his ignorance cut down the willow tree reputed to have come from Napoleon’s grave. The farmer was sued by Rev. Cordeaux, but no decision was given. In 1864, in order to improve the lighting in the Church, gas lighting was installed, supplied by the gas company situated at Elsecar.

Church Music

Prior to 1850 very few Parish Churches could boast the possession of an organ. In many Churches, one or two fiddlers led the singing. The first mention of music at St. Peter’s was the use of a small harmonium, but in 1852 a pipe organ was purchased, built by Francis Jones, organ builder of Sheffield. The organ cost £105 and was housed in the gallery. The harmonium was sold for £12.

In 1868, an organ transept was added to the Church structure, the gift of Mr. George Dawes, the owner of the Milton and Elsecar ironworks. This was built on the north wall of the chancel, and the organ was moved into it, from the gallery.

In 1873, the organ was improved and enlarged, by George Fenton Heald, of Hanover Street, Sheffield, at a cost of £110.

All this fervour and enthusiasm for an organ, happened in the time of Rev. John Cordeaux. The parishioners worked hard to defray the costs – for example, a tea and concert organised on the 2nd January 1873, in the Mechanics Institute, Hoyland, helped to raise £21-18s-0d – a magnificent achievement in those days.

Subsequent Incumbents and the Burtoft Family

In 1878, Charles Twigg in his book “Village Rambles” writes about the Church, and when he revisited in 1877. “The Rev. John Cordeaux preached his farewell sermon on the first Sunday in November 1873. He went to Hooton Roberts, Doncaster, in that same year. He was followed at St. Peter’s by the Rev. J. A. Lamb (1874-1877), who was appointed on the 9th January 1874. The Rev. Darling, a missionary from India, helped with the ministry of Hoyland until 1877, and then went back to missionary work. The Rev. Henry Townend Sale entered on his ministry – Lord’s Day, 25th February 1877.”

“Thomas Burtoft was clerk and sexton for 54 years and died 19th January 1867, aged 70 years. His father was clerk and sexton for many years previous to Thomas. Lydia Burtoft, wife of Rupert Burtoft, the present (1877) clerk and sexton was the first person buried in the new cemetery, 23rd March 1859 (across the road from the St. Peter’s Church.)”

The Rev. Henry Townend Sale (1877-1899)

Great changes were taking place at this period in Hoyland Township. There was a rapid increase in the population, together with a rising tide of middle class prosperity, and Hoyland could not escape the infectious zeal of the Victorian Era. At the Census of 1871, the population was 6,293 and by the 1891 Census it had risen to 11,006.

New Places of Worship

As already mentioned the Rev. John Cordeaux had asked for help in 1864, for a curate and new places of worship, nearer the people.

On the 29th September 1877, a license was granted to the Rev. Henry Townend Sale, to conduct services in the Infants School, Market Street, Hoyland, for the convenience of inhabitants residing at a distance from the Church. This was, of course, before the Parish of St. Andrew was established in Hoyland.

On the 24th March 1884, a license was granted by the Archbishop of York, to Rev. H. T. Sale, enabling him to preach, to read the Book of Common Prayer, and to celebrate the Holy Sacrament in the newly- built Mission Church at Hoyland Common.

Improvements to St. Peter’s Church

At a vestry meeting in 1880, it was agreed to have a complete restoration of the internal arrangements of the St. Peter’s Church, and it was entrusted to Mr. W. H. Sykes, a well-known Hoyland architect. Out came the old box-type pews; and new seating, choir stalls, lectern and pulpit of pitch pine were introduced, the order being given to Hawley’s of Penistone. The font was a gift of a Miss Wilson, and a heating system was installed by the Thorncliffe Company, and would no doubt encourage more people to go to Church in the colder months, when they could sit in a comfortable heated building. On completion of the work, the Church was re- opened for public worship on the 24th September 1881.

The Martha Knowles Clock

In 1897 a clock was put into the tower, the gift of Mrs. Martha Knowles. “A thanksgiving offering to God on the completion of the sixtieth year of the long and happy reign of our beloved Queen Victoria.” The same Mrs. Martha Knowles had paid for a tower and clock erected in the Town Hall at Hoyland, officially opened on the 14th October 1891.

The Church in the Twentieth Century

In 1906, a vestry was added to the Church, the gift of Earl Fitzwilliam, the Church’s Patron. In 1908, the Rev. Charles Steele (1899-1910) launched the Chancel Fund, and a substantial sum of money was raised with the specific intention of building a new Chancel. This money remained in the control of the Charity Commissioners for many years, because of severe subsidence due to coal mining, which prevented any building work.

In 1922, the brass lectern was dedicated, and for the first time, in 1923, Altar candles were lighted at Holy Communion. 1923 saw the dedication of the War Memorial to the men who had lost their live in the Great War – this was in the form of a Reredos and side panels behind the Altar . The vicar , Thomas Godfrey Rogers (1915-1927), had been an Army Chaplain during the war. In 1924, steel girders were erected to support the structure against further mining subsidence. In 1929, there was the dedication of the Credence Table. In 1936, there was the dedication of the Processional Cross. These two dedications were done during the incumbency of the Rev. William Grant Moffatt (1927-1937). On the 7th October 1937, the Rev. Algernon Bertie Pratt (1937-1955) was appointed the vicar at St. Peter’s Church and on Christmas Eve of that year electric lighting was used in the Church for the first time.

On 3rd September 1939, the Second World War was declared, and the Church went into “blackout”. In the same year, the St. Peter’s Day School which had been in a derelict state was demolished. The Church tea rooms on Tinker Lane were given to the Hoyland Common Scouts, and the Mission Church was no longer used for worship. The Rev. A.B. Pratt wished the people to worship at the main St. Peter’s Church.

In 1942, on the 15th November, the bells rang out after a two-and-a- half years silence, to celebrate British Victory in North Africa. 1945 saw the end of the war in Europe and Victory over Japan, and on 15th September 1946, the blessing of the new Tower Clock.

In 1950, on the 19th November, was the dedication of the Church gates.

In 1955, the Rev A.B. Pratt resigned and the old vicarage was sold in 1956.

The Rev. Harry Crichton (1957-1960) was appointed in 1957, the same year that maintenance work was carried out on the inside of the Church. It was redecorated, with the steel girders painted in the same colour as the walls. The choir pews were resited. Windows were repaired and re-fitted; and a new oil-fired boiler replaced the old coke-fired one.

In 1958, a new modern parsonage house was built on land adjacent to the Church.

On the 26th March 1960, the Rev. Wilfrid Clark (1960-1985) became the incumbent, and in 1964, the War Memorial (Reredos) was cleaned, repaired and re-gilded. Re-building of the organ took place, and refurnishing of the sanctuary, and a new pulpit was installed.

On 27th February 1985, Father Kenneth Wray (1985-1997) was appointed the new vicar of St. Peter’s Church, and under his guidance many new innovations were to take place. One of the first major steps taken was that the Church Hall on Hoyland Common was sold off to the Hoyland Glazing Company. Mrs Mary Dawson, a church stalwart, mentioned that the last Mother’s Union Meeting she attended in the Church Hall was in October 1989. The year 1990 was a very special year for the Church, because on 19th November was the 250th Feast of the Consecration of the Church.

The Re-ordering of the Church

Some of the money received from the sale of the Church Hall on Hoyland Common went towards the re-ordering of St. Peter’s Church, which commenced on 20th November 1990 – the day after the Feast of the 250th Consecration. Part of the money was also re- invested for future needs of the Church.

The architect in charge of the re-ordering was Mr. R.G. Sims (Dip. Arch. RIBA) and the work was completed by 19th November 1991. During that period of alterations, the Narthex (coffee lounge) and a small kitchen area were introduced, separated from the main body of the Chur ch by glazed scr eens. A “vaulted” ash ceiling was constructed to cover the massive grid of girder supports inside the Church. Spotlighting was attached to the ceiling to emphasise special features within the Church. The Gallery seating was removed and made into an upper lounge room, with glazed screens, to make better use of the space. The Reredos and War Memorial were resited. The Altar was brought forward to provide more light through the window, and to provide easy access to the War Memorials beside the Altar. It also meant that the vicar could stand behind the Altar and facehiscongregation. Thefloorbetweenthepewswascarpeted,and the oil central heating was replaced by gas heating.

The architect designed a stained-glass window for the Church entrance, which depicts the “elements” in colour, “growth and prayer” in plant form, and the “Crucifix and the Holy Spirit” are represented by teardrops of red and yellow.

The Holy Table is glorified by symbols and colours depicting the seasons, and emblems of the Passion, even to a cockerel – “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times”; depicted also are dice – “they cast lots for his garments.”

Standard candlesticks embrace the Holy Table, leading the eye upwards to the Hanging Cross, which is designed to depict Christ in Glory, transcending the Crucifixion, and ascending in a shimmering light. The main part of the Cross is constructed from Sheffield Stainless Steel. On completion, the Cross had to be taken to York for the architect’s approval. Parking of cars being prohibited around the Minster, the Cross had to be carried approximately 200 yards from the nearest car park, causing many and varied comments from bystanders.

The architect Ron Sims, at the Thanksgiving Mass for the Re-Ordering of the Church said “The above scheme could not have been undertaken without the skills of dedicated craftsmen, to whom I am indebted for their work. Not least the voluntary assistance in forming the difficult iron work, namely the Cross, the three candelabra, Paschal, Advent and Votive, the Altar rails and font, accomplished with such skill by Raymond Norris, a member of St. Peter’s Church.”

On 29th May 1997, the Rev. Nigel Holmes was licensed, and on the 19th November 1997, he was also licensed at St. Andrew’s Church, Market Street, Hoyland. The present Patron of St. Peter’s Church is Sir Philip Vyvian Naylor-Leyland, representing the Fitzwilliam family link with the Church.