Until the 19th century, the town of Settle was part of the Ancient Parish of Giggleswick, a large parish which included the villages of Stainforth, Langcliffe and Rathmell, as well as the rapidly growing market town of Settle. The Parish Church of St Alkelda, in the village of Giggleswick, was the only church and by the early 1800s it was clear that it was becoming severely overcrowded and inadequate. Eventually, in February 1835, following generous offers of money and land from several local families, a public meeting was held in the Golden Lion Inn . A public subscription was commenced and on June 15th 1836 the foundation stone for a new church in Settle was laid by Rev Rowland Ingram, Headmaster of Giggleswick School, on a plot of land provided by William Bolland of Townhead. The “Ascension Church” was consecrated on 26th October 1838 by the Lord Bishop of Ripon, the Right Reverend Charles Thomas Longley.

The church was built in the “Early English” style to a design by Thomas Rickman. It remained a “chapel of ease” within the Parish of Giggleswick until 1892 when Settle eventually became a separate parish. The “New Parishes Act” had been passed by Parliament in 1856, but required a vacancy in the old parish before it could take effect and the death of the Vicar of Giggleswick, Rev W.H. Coulthurst, in 1892 provided the first opportunity 36 years later.

Settle Parish Church, 1877
Photograph from The Horner Collection
Copyright J Jelley, All rights reserved.

This postcard, which is available to purchase in aid of church funds, thanks to the generosity of the copyright holder, shows a photograph from the historic “Horner Collection“, of the original entrance to the churchyard, from Church Street, with the gates to the Townhead Estate on the right. It was taken soon after the Settle & Carlisle Railway was opened and the newly finished embankment is visible on the left of the picture.

This picture (copyright unknown) appears to have been taken around the same time as the Horner one above. It shows the original churchyard boundary walls, with the old footpath to the Langcliffe cotton mill in the foreground. Townhead is the top building on the left behind the church with the scar of Castleberg above. Townhead has now been replaced by modern housing, Castleberg is shrouded by many more trees and there are fewer smoking chimneys.

If you plan to visit to our church, you might like to download the short guide below. It can be folded to form a convenient A5 booklet