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Lightcliffe Tower, Old St Matthews Church – Resting Place of Ann Walker

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Information on Lightcliffe Tower, Old St Matthews Church – Resting Place of Ann Walker

Attraction type:
  • Culture & Heritage
  • Family
  • Historic Sites & Trails
  • Weddings & Celebrations

Ann Walker’s grandfather, William, largely funded the Georgian Lightcliffe Old St Matthew Church, which was erected in 1775 and replaced an earlier, Tudor foundation.

William also built Cliffe Hill just a short walk away, where Ann Walker lived. Ann and her family worshipped at St Matthew’s Church and had family pews.

After becoming the companion and wife of Anne Lister of Shibden Hall, the couple had a green velvet-lined pew installed at St Matthew’s so they could worship together there.

Ann died in February 1854 and was buried in the church, according to her memorial plaque “under the pulpit”. The exact location of this pulpit is the subject of debate, as the church was replaced in 1880 with the current church building.

The old St Matthew’s church was used as a mortuary chapel, but it fell into decay after suffering serious damage from a storm in the 1960’s. Vandalism and theft followed and the church was demolished in the early 1970s.

Fortunately the ‘Friends of Friendless Churches’ rescued the memorials from the walls of the church and they are now stored in Lightcliffe Tower, the only remaining part of the old St Matthew Church.

A memorial stone has been placed on the spot where it is thought that Ann lies and the brass memorial plaque to her now hangs high inside the tower. The plaque is hard to decipher but reads:

In memory of Ann Walker of Cliffe Hill who was born May 20th 1803 and died February 25th 1854

and is buried underneath the pulpit in this church.

And of her niece, Mary who died June 6th 1845 and is buried in this churchyard.

And of her nephews George Sackville (Sutherland) who died in 1843 aged 12,

John Walker who died in 1836 aged 1 year and are buried in Kirkmichael, Rosshire,

the children of George MacKay and Elizabeth Sutherland

Sadly there are no known images of Ann Walker. Most of what we know about her comes from Anne Lister’s diaires and letters. Ann Walker is portrayed by Sophie Rundle in the BBC ONE/ HBO drma Gentleman Jack.

You will find Lightcliffe Tower along Wakefield Road, in Lightcliffe, Halifax. The tower is located on your left (as you are driving out of Halifax) just before Till Carr Lane, opposite the Sun Country Inn, HX3 8TH.

The Tower may open to the public on set days throughout the year. As we become aware of any open days, we will post them here.