Our February guest speaker, David Scriven, was able to deliver a talk in place of Ian Dewhirst who was originally programmed to appear. However Ian suffered injuries due to a fall and has since died. Ian was a very popular speaker and will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and condolences go to his family.David is also a regular speaker at our meetings and was able to deliver a talk on a subject similar to the one Ian would have delivered. Holy Trinity church in Ossett dominates the skyline for miles around and this church with others in the district originally came under the parish at Dewsbury. Long had been the rivalry between non-conformism and the Anglican church in Ossett that by the end of the 19th century there were more places available in churches and chapels of Ossett than the total population of the town! The census of 1851 shows that attendance for morning services were 18%, for the afternoon 25% and evening was 17%. It was also noted that women and children dominated these attendance while the menfolk were more than likely in the pub.
Non- conformist chapels, mainly Methodists, often had higher attendances than the Anglican churches. Women usually played little or no part in church administration. There were exceptions and these were where some women kept open- house for social as well as religious purposes. Some aspects worth noting: pew rents were finally abolished by 1894; more churches and chapels could afford to have organs installed; Sunday school not only delivered religious issues but also lessons in reading and writing based on biblical stories.
There were various ways for the church to reach out to the local population and at the same time raise funds .These included annual Sunday School Feast when a parade took place and there was prize giving. Then there was the Annual Soiree when talks were given, exhibitions displayed and refreshments provided.
By mid-century church schools were introduced and in 1878 Board schools were provided in England but not, however, in Ossett! Architecture of chapels and churches in Ossett varied from plain to ornate and from classical to Gothic styles. To finance new buildings money was borrowed and paid back by raising funds from holding bazaars or from wealthy individuals.
Today many have been demolished or converted to apartments. One such was a Primitive Methodist chapel which is now the Prince of Wales pub!
David’s talk was one that showed a great amount of research had been done and was delivered in his usual impeccable style.
On Saturday 1st December Brian Oxberry, Chairman of the Malton branch of the Charles Dickens Society, gave a talk on a theme close to his heart. Dressed in period clothes of the mid-nineteenth century, Brian described how Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ was influenced by his visits to the North Yorkshire town of Malton. These visits came about due to the friendship of Dickens with Charles Smithson. The latter was a solicitor with a practice in London and eventually with the family firm of solicitors in Malton. Dickens often travelled to Malton to visit his friend Charles Smithson at his home in Easthorpe Lodge.
Books such as ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ and ‘Oliver Twist’ illustrated Dickens concern for the plight of the poor and especially how poverty affected children in England. These stories were serialised in magazines or papers. However it was Smithson’s office on Chancery Lane that inspired Dickens when describing Scrooge’s counting house plus the bells of St Leonards on Church Hill that woke Scrooge to be confronted by the ghost of Jacob Marley, his one time partner, that led to the publication in book form of ‘A Christmas Carol.’ This book, is still. being published. A copy of which was signed by Dickens and presented to Charles Smthson’s widow in 1844. This copy found its way to New York in 2012. It was put up for auction and the people of Malton led by ex- broadcaster, Salina Scott, raised funds to bring it back to Malton. It is today exhibited by the Talbot Hotel in Malton.
Brian who had committed the story to memory, then delivered his version in a very entertaining way. He brought the story to life by including dialogue spoken with characteristic flourishes and emphasis. The prolonged applause from his audience indicated the enjoyment felt by Brian’s story.