By the 1850s, Charles Brook Snr (1792-1869), who was one of Jonas Brook’s brothers, was residing at Healey House in South Crosland. His son, Charles John Brook (born 1829), died in February 1857 aged 27 at Thickhollins Hall after a short illness. He was laid to rest at the Church of St. James at Meltham Mills on 21st February. According to some sources, the weather was miserable on the day of the funeral but, as the grieving family left the church, the sun broke through the clouds and a rainbow appeared in the north which seemed to be touching the ground at Helme. The Brooks took this as a sign that Charles John was in heaven and they vowed to build a new church in his memory at Helme.
Architect James Pigott Pritchett of York (perhaps best known for designing Huddersfield Railway Station) was commissioned and the foundation stone was laid by Charles John’s 3-year-old son, Charles Lewis Brook (1855-1939), in August 1858. The stone used for the church was mostly mined from the quarries to the west of Meltham at Royd Edge.
The first incumbent of Christ Church was Charles John Brook’s older brother, the Rev. James Brook (1826-1906).
The neighbouring vicarage and school, which replaced an earlier temporary structure, were also commissioned by the Brook family.
Did You Know?
- Christ Church is sometimes referred to the Rainbow Church, due to the story of the rainbow appearing at Charles John Brook’s funeral.
Historic England Listing
- Grade II (24 January 1984)
SLADES LANE (Helme). Christ Church. Gothic Revival church in Decorated style. Built 1859. Endowed by Charles Brook of Healey House, in memory of Charles John Brook of Thickhollins.
Exterior: Rock faced stone. Steeply pitched red plain tiled roof which becomes more shallow over aisles. Square tower in south-west corner. Four-bay buttressed nave. Two-bay chancel. Aisle windows are three-light some with intersecting and some with reticulated tracery. Five-light east window and four-light west window, both with Decorated tracery. South porch of timber on dwarf walls. Two-tier square tower with angle buttresses with off-sets. Small two-light traceried, louvred bell chamber openings and round clock faces, all, with hood moulds. Eaves cornice to tower which is surmounted by slender splay-footed shingled spire.
Interior: 4-bay arcade to north and south, on short octagonal piers. Arches are double chamfered. Long, light chancel with carved stone reredos, in form of blind arcade, with carved foliage in spandrels. Painted texts on walls including the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments. Good gilded eagle lect of 1908 with Art Nouveau stem. No stained glass. Arched braced collar beam roof on corbel brackets.