A Local History
Occupations & Architecture
St John the Baptist
There had been a Methodist Chapel in West Handley for nearly forty years by the time the church in Middle Handley was built during the 1830s. It was the 6th Duke of Devonshire who was principally responsible for the new building.
How pleased members of the congregation would have been when they no longer had to walk all the way to Staveley for services every Sunday. Here now was their own church, in their own community, where they could mark the important events of life.
It took many years to convince the Duke to have the churchyard consecrated. The Revd. Bernard Moore was troubled by the delay and his concern was shared by John Holland. In 1845 Mr. Holland wrote a poetical memorandum to the Duke pleading for the consecration of the churchyard at Handley, prefaced with the anonymous lines:
It was twenty-one years later, however, before the churchyard was consecrated on 27th June 1866.
The church may have been consecrated for burials, but it was not licensed for marriages and it’s been said that only two marriages were performed by special license. One of them being the wedding of Helen Sims who grew up in Middle Handley.
Over the years garden parties and various other activities would be held combining them with fundraising for maintenance of the church but sadly the numbers attending church were declining and the last congregation to gather there was for Harvest Festival in 1996. The legal procedures officially to close the church followed…