Rebuilding Through the Centuries

The building was erected in the 18th Century.

18th Century

The building was erected in 1794 was on the same site as the ancient church. It first of all consisted of a nave and semi-circular apsidal chancel, with three ugly gaping windows on the south side, two no the north and one on the west end above the entrance. There was a small bell turret on the west gable.

19th Century

In 1844 two square transepts in the Normal style were added to the nave, but removed in 1862 and the present aisles substituted by the generosity of Mrs Mary Buttle Radford of Smalley Hall, who also added the present chancel in 1865. It can be seen from the brass memorial plates near the organ that the Radford family suffered more than their share of tragedies in the unfortunate early deaths of three of their children, and also lost a son aged 18 years, who served in the Derbyshire Militia.

A small porch, with a Norman doorway, was erected at the west end about 1850 as the gift of Miss Eliza Wilmot-Sitwell of Stainsby House.

Family pews were allocated to the Wilmot-Sitwells, the Radfords and Mundys of Shipley Hall. The other pews were described as “High, narrow, uncomfortable pens, the backs of the seats rigidly perpendicular and the doors of the selfish exclusive type; some even furnished with locks”.
There was a gallery across the west end occupied by the Boys’ Sunday School (the girls were on benches down the middle of the stone-floored aisle). The men servants from Stainsby and the instrumental choir occupied the front seats. Two large pews under the gallery were usually occupied by the cottagers – the farmers’ men servants on the north and the women on the south. It is assumed that the gallery was demolished during the alterations made in the mid-19th century.

An early recollection about choir indicates that it was composed of violin, violincello, trombone and bassoon. When a new bassoon was required it is recorded that the Messrs Radford, Mundy and Sitwell decided on a good-looking instrument but old Oliver, the player, preferred a commoner-looking one. Mr Sitwell said that since Oliver had to play it, he had better have his own choice.

Another recollection is that the pathway to the church was wide enough for Mr Mundy to be driven up to the south door in his pony carriage and for it to be turned round to collect him at the close of the service.

In February 1877 St John the Baptist became a separate ecclesiastical parish, independent of Morley, with the Reverend William Bradshaw as the first Vicar.

20th Century
The major structural change was the building of the Bell Tower and the moving of the porch from the west end to its present position on the south side.

Money for building the Bell Tower and housing the five bells had been bequeathed in his Will by the Reverend Charles Kerry, who also gave specific instrutions concerning the inscriptions on the bells.

In 1923 the base of the Bell Tower was convered for use as a Choir Vestry.

The Bell Turret was removed from the west gable in 1967 because it was found to be structurally unsafe.

The outer door of the porch was fitted in memory of Frank Sisson, who died in 1978.

The wrought-iron gates at the roadside entrance were erected in 1985 in memory of Frederic Leslie Fletcher, who died in 1977.