Over five hundred years ago the residents of Ripponden had to travel to Elland to go to church. The long trek and variable weather led them to request permission from the King to build their own church. They were granted a Royal Charter, and in the 1400’s built their church in the valley bottom.
This was consecrated in 1464.
By the 1600s the building had fallen into a poor state of repair, so in 1610 the villagers rebuilt the church by the packhorse road, where there was even a door into the church from the packhorse bridge.
The church flourished until May 18th, 1722, when heavy rain made the river Ryburn burst its banks, and the north end of the church was washed away. This also had a gruesome twist as the flooding was so severe that bodies were torn out of their graves, and in the aftermath the villagers even found a coffin up a tree!
The font was also washed into the river, and claimed by the residents of the Bridge Inn who refused to give it back – you can still see the old font in The Bridge today.
To remain safe from future flooding, the villagers built a third church further back from the river on higher ground, which was opened in 1736.
When the third church was found to have an unsafe roof, Messrs George Shaw of Saddleworth came forward and built a fourth church in 1868 in Neogothic style. This is the church we worship in today.
St Bartholomew’s is full of interesting features, old and new, and has much admired stained glass windows.
For campanologists, the bell tower has a peal of 8 bells, some of which were from the previous church.
The church is open at weekends during the summer, as well as for our scheduled services, and you can go and look round and learn about the interior.