Church of St John the Divine, Calder Grove


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Denby Dale Road West, Calder Grove, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WD4 3FG


Ordnance survey map of Church of St John the Divine, Calder Grove
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Statutory Address:
Denby Dale Road West, Calder Grove, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WD4 3FG

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wakefield (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Anglican church, 1892-3, by William Swinden Barber. Coursed sandstone 'bricks' with ashlar dressings, slate roof with clay ridge tiles. Early English style.

Reasons for Designation

The Church of St John the Divine, constructed in 1892-3 to designs by William Swinden Barber, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: it is a well-executed and neatly detailed church with a subtlety of design that belies its modest scale;

* Interior survival: it has a striking roof structure incorporating stencilled decoration and retains the majority of its original architect-designed furnishings;

* Architect: it was designed by the notable regional architect William Swinden Barber and is a good example of his small-scale work;

* Historic interest: it is an interesting example of a late-C19 mission church funded by a local benefactor to serve the local community.


St John's Mission Church, Calder Grove was constructed in 1892-3 to the designs of William Swinden Barber. The land for the church was donated to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by Colonel Albany Hawke Charlesworth of Chapelthorpe Hall and the construction of the church, which cost approximately £1200, was funded by Mary Elizabeth Mackie in memory of her husband, John Mackie Esq JP of Cliffe House, Crigglestone and New Mills, Derbyshire who had died in 1891. The church was constructed to serve the local communities of Calder Grove and Dirtcar that were over 2 miles away from the parish church in Chapelthorpe. The stone for the church came from Elland, West Yorkshire and Barber also designed the interior fixtures and fittings, which were paid for by various members of the Mackie family.

The corner stone was laid on 22 October 1892 by Mrs Mackie and the church was dedicated on 27 May 1893 by Bishop William Walsham How, first Bishop of the Diocese of Wakefield. Bishop How returned to consecrate the church on 20 October 1893.

In 1903 Colonel Charlesworth donated an adjacent plot of land for the construction of a Sunday School, which was again funded by Mrs Mackie and was a tin tabernacle-style structure. In the same year a boys' club funded by Mrs Mackie was constructed in Dirtcar. This was dismantled in 1909 and re-erected alongside the Sunday School at Calder Grove. A further extension funded by public subscription was constructed in 1928. The Sunday School buildings were demolished in 2014.

The church, which is now known as the Church of St John the Divine, is the sister church to the Grade II listed Church of St James the Less, New Mills, Derbyshire (1880), which was also designed by Barber and funded by the Mackies in memory of Mrs Mackie's parents.

John Mackie (1836-1891) was a local landowner and colliery owner who married Mary Elizabeth Ingham (1844-1922), the daughter of the owner of a calico print works in New Mills, Derbyshire in 1866. The couple divided their time between Yorkshire and Derbyshire and were prominent local figures and benefactors in both communities.

William Swinden Barber (1832-1908) was an architect in Halifax and Brighouse, West Yorkshire who designed a wide range of buildings, both ecclesiastical and secular, mainly in West Yorkshire, but also further afield. He has over 20 listed buildings to his name, including eight churches. He also carried out extensions and refurbishments of several other earlier churches that are also listed.


Anglican church, 1892-3, by William Swinden Barber. Coursed sandstone 'bricks' with ashlar dressings, slate roof with clay ridge tiles. Early English style.

PLAN: the church has a rectangular plan incorporating a porch to the western end on the north side and a combined vestry and organ chamber attached to the south side.

N.B. The modern OS map still depicts the Sunday School buildings to the south of the church, but these were demolished in 2014.

EXTERIOR: the church is a small building approximately 72ft long with a chancel and nave that share the same steeply pitched roof. All the windows are single and multiple lancets with quoined surrounds and angled sills; those to the west end and nave have leaded glazing, whilst those to the chancel contain stained glass. The church's west gable-end elevation has a large 4-light lancet window, the two centre lancets of which are taller; all the lancets have plastic anti-vandalism protectors over the original leaded glazing. The gable apex rises to form a gableted bellcote that contains a single bell of 1893 by Mears & Stainbank of Whitechapel, London Borough of Tower Hamlets (now the Whitechapel Bell Foundry). The bellcote was originally surmounted by a cross finial, but this was removed in the early-C21 after becoming unsafe. The west entrance is formed of a gabled porch attached to the western end of the north side. The porch is surmounted by an Alisee Patee circle cross finial and has a wide Gothic-arched opening with quoined jambs, an integral hoodmould, and later metal gates inserted behind the opening. The porch has a collared-rafter roof and contains a doorway with quoined jambs and original timber plank-and batten double doors. Two triple-lancet windows light the nave on each north and south side; the north side also has an additional small lancet at the western end. A combined vestry and organ chamber projection is attached to the south side of the church towards the eastern end. The projection rises above the eaves line of the main body of the church in a catslide roof formation and has a 2-light mullioned window and a single-light window to the south wall, both with quoined surrounds. A narrow doorway exists to the west return with a heavy stone lintel and a plank and batten door. Two small lancets light the chancel on the north side and a single lancet lights the south side due to the presence of the vestry and organ chamber projection; those lighting the high altar are set higher up the wall, denoting the change in interior floor level. The east gable-end elevation has short gableted buttresses to each edge and a triple-lancet window with trefoil-arched and cusped tracery; the centre light is taller and incorporates a trefoil to the top. Above the window is a stepped hoodmould that continues across the elevation. The gable is surmounted by a floriated cross finial.

INTERIOR: internally the church has painted-plaster walls with a polished red-deal (softwood fir/pine) floor in the nave and a bitumen floor in the chancel (mostly hidden under carpet coverings). The vestry floor, which is also believed to be softwood floorboards is hidden under later carpet. Historic photographs reveal that the walls of the nave and chancel were originally decorated with stencilled paintings by Powell Bros of Leeds (the sister church, the Church of St James the Less in New Mills, Derbyshire has similar stencilling that has been revealed during restoration and conversion works), which have since been painted over, but are believed to possibly survive underneath, except for the west wall, which has been re-plastered. The nave and chancel share a collared scissor-truss roof with two king-post trusses. The principal king-post chancel truss has stencilled decoration consisting of foliate decoration in red and gold to the underside of the tie beam and gold roundels containing fleur-de-lys motifs on the sides of the tie beam, which represent the Diocese of Wakefield. The collared trusses in the chancel also have stencilled decoration with gold fleur-de-lys motifs. The windows are all recessed internally, with the 3-light windows to the nave being set behind a central sandstone column with a simple Gothic carved base and capital. The nave contains the original bench pews of red deal and at the western end is a bell rope that passes through a hole in the roof and descends in front of the west window. At the foot of the west window is a carved stone font with a columnar shaft and a wooden lid, the stone of which came from Crosland Moor, Huddersfield. The wooden pulpit has a pierced traceried design and is adorned by a small brass plaque by the rear steps with a dedication to John Mackie. An ornate brass lectern with a filigree design was donated by Miss Edith G Mackie and a carved reader's desk with a traceried front incorporates a First World War memorial inscription on one of the side panels. The chancel has been re-ordered and retains its carved choir stalls, but the original altar has been removed, although the footpace (platform) and carved arcaded altar frontispiece survive. A modern altar table has been placed at the front of the chancel and the original brass communion rails have also been moved forward. The chancel is lit by two stained-glass lancets on the north side depicting St John the Baptist and St John the Divine, and a single lancet on the south side depicting the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus. The stained-glass east window depicts a robed Jesus Christ in the centre light with bound hands and a crown of thorns, and adoring angels in the flanking side lights. A dedication inscription in calligraphic script is incorporated to the bottom right of the window, which reads 'To the honour of God and in memory of John Mackie, this window is dedicated by Mary Elizabeth Mackie. A.D. 1893'. A small stained-glass trefoil to the top of the window depicts a roundel containing the Christogram 'IHC' surrounded by floral decoration. A large Gothic-arched opening on the south side of the chancel contains the organ chamber and also leads through to the vestry, which is a plain space with built-in cupboards and a built-in wall safe by Cyrus Price & Co Ltd of Wolverhampton. The organ, which was funded by the Mackie family, is by Alfred Kirkland of Upper Holloway, London and was installed in the early 1900s.

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Online. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 29 August 2017.


War Memorials Online, accessed 29 August 2017 from
Various archival information available at the Church of St John the Divine


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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