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Historic Halifax church plays host to Victorian festival

Two national heritage organisations are descending on Halifax this weekend to mark the 150th anniversary of one the town’s major landmarks.

All Soul's church on Haley Hill in Halifax was consecrated in 1859. 150 years later and the grade I-listed church is no longer used for regular worship, but this Saturday 5th September it will once again throw open its doors to the public as the setting for a Victorian Fun Day.

The event is being organised by the Churches Conservation Trust, which owns the church, Bankfield Museum and The Victorian Society, the national charity which fights to preserve important Victorian buildings. All Souls, Haley Hill is certainly important; it was built on a grand scale to the designs of one of the most important architects of the Victorian age, Sir George Gilbert Scott. He later described it as 'on the whole, my best church'.

It was intended to be the centre piece of the model village created by wealthy mill owner, Edward Ackroyd and funds to build the church were apparently unlimited. It was built on a grand scale with a spire 236ft high (72m), stained glass in every window, beautiful woodwork and stone carvings.

What Ackroyd or Gilbert Scott would make of the fun day is anyone's guess, because instead of sober worship there will be falconry displays, face painting and music. Visitors to the church will also be able to try out Victorian music instruments, learn heritage craft skills and discover the history of All Souls, its benefactor and the local area.

'People tend to think of the Victorians as being terribly serious but they also knew how to enjoy themselves, and that's what we want everyone to do on 5th September', said Dr Ian Dungavell, Director of the Victorian Society. 'Gilbert Scott's incredible church is a key part of the history of Halifax and should be celebrated'.

It's hoped that the event, which is all free, will show how this historic building can still be used by the local community. The church has been redundant since 1979 and is now owned and maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust. The chairman of the trust, Loyd Grossman said;

'The 150th anniversary party for All Souls Halifax is going to be a fitting tribute to this wonderful church. There's something for everyone on the day - whether you're a history buff, music lover or looking for something to entertain the kids - we want this church to live once again at the heart of the community.'

Activities run between 11am and 5pm on Saturday, and on Sunday at 3pm the Bishop of Wakefield will lead a service to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the church.

For more information and a full timetable click here

Thursday 3 September, 2009

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