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From: "Tony Cheal" <>
Subject: [Harrogate] St John's Church, Bilton
Date: Mon, 9 Jun 2003 21:31:31 +0100


Extract from "The History and Topography of Harrogate and the Forest of Knaresborough" by William Grainge, 1882.

If there is any particular part of Harrogate (ancient or modern) that you would like information on then please let me know.

Tony Cheal
Harrogate Historical Society


ST. JOHN'S CHURCH, BILTON.

This Church, which is situate near the northern extremity of the town of Harrogate, was built at the cost of William Sheepshanks, Esq. It is an elegant and substantial specimen of early English architecture, designed by George Gilbert Scott, Esq., A.R.A., London. The plan consists of a chancel, with vestry on the north side, nave, with north and south aisles, porch, and tower at the west end, which is intended to carry a lofty spire. The dimensions of the Church are, tower 20 feet by 16 feet nave 82 feet by 25 feet 6 inches, aisles 11 feet wide, chancel 36 feet by 20 feet. The aisles are divided from the nave by five acutely pointed arches on each side, supported by four clustered columns, the capitals adorned with masses of carved foliage. The arch opening from the nave into the chancel is lofty, bold, and elegant, the springers foliated. The pulpit (of Caen stone) and the reading desk are placed on opposite sides, near the chancel arch, the lectern in the shape, of a braze!
n eagle standing between them. The roofs are open; that of the nave arched and trussed, that of the chancel groined. The sittings are open stalls throughout, and all free. The font is a massive arcaded column of Caen stone, near the western entrance. The organ, a sweet and powerful instrument, by Hill and Son, of London, is placed near the pulpit, at the east end of the north aisle. The chancel is lighted with seven lancet windows, filled with stained glass, memorials of different members of the family of the founder. The first on the north side, "In memory of Sarah, the beloved wife of William Sheepshanks, the founder of this church,-born November 8th, 1787, died July 28th, 1823;" bears in panels representations of different scenes in scripture,-" The blind receiving their sight." "The dead are raised up." "The poor have the Gospel preached unto them." "The lame walk." The next, "In memory of Catherine Sarah Eleanor Sheepshanks, born October 27th, 1853, died September 4th, !
1855." Above are depicted scenes inscribed, "Beloved stand at the door and knock." "He shall gather the lambs in His arms." " Suffer the little children to come unto me." "She is not dead, but sleepeth." The eastern window of three lights is "In memory of Thomas Sheepshanks, born March 27th, 1783, died December 26th, 1854." "In memory of Richard Sheepshanks, born July 30th, 1794, died August 4th, 1855." "In memory of Eleanor Nicholson, who died December 22nd, 1855, aged 77." A vesica light above represents the descent of the Dove. Above are represented scenes from Scripture. On the southern side of the chancel, beneath a figure of St. John the Baptist, is inscribed, "In memory of George Nicholson, born January 12th, 1789, died February 10th, 1850." The next window on the same side, beneath a figure of St. John the Evangelist, is inscribed, "In memory of Elizabeth Nicholson, born at Leeds, died January 29th, 1832, aged 40." A window at the east end of the south aisle bears re!
presentations of scenes in the career of the Prodigal Son, inscribed, "I will arise and go to my Father." "And he arose and came." The western window of two lights, opening into the basement of the tower,- contains representations of the symbols of the four Evangelists. The lower windows of the nave are single lancet lights; those of the clerestory double, with trefoil heads, and a quatrefoil in the sweep of the arch.
The tower is divided into three stories: the first open to the nave, through which is an entrance, each side externally adorned with an ornamental niche; the second is the ringers' chamber, which is arcaded externally; the belfrey is lighted by four double lancets, above which are two bold quatrefoils; the whole is surmounted by a massive entablature. The spire is yet wanting. The tower contains only one bell. A moulding runs round the outside of the chancel at the base of the windows, above which rises an arcade of six arches, two of the central ones, being open, form windows. All the windows are shafted on the outside, the capitals foliated, from which spring the arches.
The whole of the interior is lined with white limestone from the Huddlestone quarries; the angles of the buttresses outside, and tracery and mouldings of the windows, are of the same material; the remainder of the stone of a reddish colour was obtained in the neighbourhood. The whole of the materials were carefully selected, and the fabric constructed in the most substantial manner, and is said to have cost upwards of £17,000. The ceremony of consecration was performed by the bishop of Ripon, November 12th, 1857.
The living is a perpetual curacy in the gift of the founder. By deed, dated August 12th, 1857, the Rev. Thomas Sheepshanks granted an annual payment of £100 out of an estate situate at Humberstone Bank, in the townships of Hampsthwaite and Thruscross, to the incumbent for the time being of St. John's, Bilton. One thousand pounds, 3 per cents., were transferred by the Rev. Thomas Sheepshanks to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who undertook to pay £154 per annum to the incumbent of Bilton, in two equal portions, on the 1st May and 1st of November in every year.
The parsonage adjoining the church was built in 1868, also at the cost of William Sheepshanks, Esq,
The district assigned to this church by an order in Council, of August 27th, 1858, includes the northern side of the ancient township of Bilton-with-Harrogate. The boundary begins at a point on the river Nidd, in Spring Wood, west of Bilton Hall; passing thence across the country to the top of Walker's Road; thence by the Skipton Road to Oakbeck, following the course of that stream to its junction with the Nidd; then down the latter river to the starting point in Spring Wood.
Though this district is now but thinly inhabited, it was certainly the earliest settled, and at one time the most important part of the township.

Incumbents of St. John's, Bilton.
1858. Rev. Thomas Sheepshanks, resigned.
1865. Rev John Bickford Heard, resigned.
1868. Rev John Sheepshanks, present incumbent,













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