Churches & Chapel of Ease for Pool


CATHOLIC CHURCH was made during the 2nd world war. Mr. Walsh (of Walsh’s department store, Sheffield.) who lived at Pool House, allowed the billiard room in one of his outer cottages, (the one nearest to the bus stop, which had a door on the corner) to be used for church services. In 1669 a John Sparrow living at what was to become the Bar House on Arthington Lane, was the only remaining Roman Catholic in the village refusing to join the Church of England.

Chapel Row,Old Wesleyan Chapel

WESLEYAN METHODIST CHAPEL on Chapel Row. Prior to this Chapel being built in 1839, records show that in February 1796 the dwelling of James Thompson of Pool, was licensed for Methodist preaching. The application was signed by Thomas Cooper, James Davison, William Pilling, Joseph Nichols and Ambrose Heath. This was believed to have been No. 2 Chapel Row, where until recently (c.1960) there was still a pulpit. In 1794 the Society had been included in the Otley Circuit. In 1814 Robert Thornber was leader of the three men and six women who were accredited members. The numbers reached 26 in 1838 and fluctuated during the next.20 years between that number and 14. This was replaced in 1839 when the garden of a cottage at the end of Chapel Row sold for £15 to 15 trustees by Michael Nicholson, paper manufacturer at Pool Mills. Those signing the application were Thomas Hallis, paper maker, Thomas Pullein, labourer, William Thompson cordwainer (all local men) Other influential men from the circuit, were Dibb, Denison, Craven, Atkinson, Exley, Gill, Kendall, Musgave, Myers, Sinclair, Umpleby and Naylor with Rev. William Sleigh as Minister. Thomas Cooper, James Davison, William Pilling (operating the corn mill in 1781), Joseph Nichols and Ambrose Heath (operating Pool Low Mill (paper) c.1798. The 1851 census return, signed by William Thompson showed that of a village population of 361, there was membership of 14, with a seating for 40 free and 100 pew rented. The attendances of 19 in the morning and 50 evening with 37 morning scholars and 4 afternoon scholars.

The 1891 census records Colin Campbell Harrison a Wesleyan Evangalist preacher, visiting Joseph Whiteley, an agricultural labourer.

When the new Chapel on Main Street opened in 1909, the old Chapel and adjacent Chapel school was bought by Jane Whiteley for £200 on 16 May 1909. It opened as Pool Institute Ltd., on 1st March1913 by Mrs. J. D. Johnstone of The Tower, Pool, with F.H.Fawkes of Farnley Hall in the chair, but this failed in 1922 (Methodist Church) It has also been used as a reading room, bible class, a classroom as an extension to the school; for scouts, youth club c.1960 and offices and warehouse for Tankards. Later converted into a house c.1970

Information on the northern property adjoining the Chapel. Inadvertently subsidence was caused when building a conservatory onto the Chapel c.2010 when the walls abutting needed repinning. The replastering in the front room revealed an archway between the 2 properties.

Descripton by Architectural historian Peter Thornborrow in 2005 Old Chapel, (Wesleyan Methodist Chapel built in 1839) a single-storied gable-fronted building with a 3-bay symmetrical Classical-style façade with ashlar plinth, plat-band, moulded cornice and a raised broken pediment plaque above a pilastered door case with architrave, arched fanlight and keystone, with to either side 2-light mullioned windows.

Extracts from the Wharfedale Observer:

10th June 1881 “Whitsuntide Activities The Wesleyan Methodist met at the chapel (Chapel Row) where a short address was delivered. After the service the scholars paraded the village and sang some very pleasing tunes in capital style. They afterwards returned to the Chapel and were provided with and excellent tea. Later on in the day the scholars and teachers journeyed to Mr. Atkinson, Arthington House, where sports were freely indulged in and a very pleasant evening spent. There was a trip to Redcar on Monday morning and a few villagers were booked from Pool.” (presumably by train.)

8th June. 1883 “School Treat. “Through the kindness and liberality of Mr. & Mrs. Pullein the friends, teachers and scholars of the Weslyan Methodist Sunday School were taken last Saturday to Almscliffe Cragg.” Soon after 1 o’clock “the whole party began singing from their favourite hymns” “games such as Jolly Miller and Prize Ball, etc. were indulged in”.

7th May 1886 “Pool Wesleyan Chapel alteration and Sunday school. Contractor desirous of tendering for proposed new school and alterations and reseating of the present Chapel will please send their names not later than Saturday 8th May next. A.Marshall, Architect, Otley.”

The following appeared in front of both the Nov. and Dec. Wesleyan Band of Hope reports for Pool!

24th Dec. 1896 “Bentley’s Ales – our widely celebrated Yorkshire ales and stouts are too well known to need particularising but we would draw your attention to our Dinner Ale, Golden Bitter and Nourishing Stout, which we put up in bottles at 2/6d. per doz. (screw stoppers) pints and 1/6d. per doz (corked) ½ pints – Agent F. W. Holroyd, Station Road, Otley” (These adverts always seemed to be placed after church/chapel information!)

c. 1925

METHODIST CHAPEL now known as the Wesleyan Methodist Church, was opened 13.4.1909 built on land given by the Atkinson family. This replaced the Wesleyan Chapel on Chapel Row

which had been built in 1839. It was built to the design of H. C. Chorley, Leeds architect, described as being built in a ”lovely arts and crafts manner” and a ”fine small building of high quality” (David R. Morris 2009)

In the present Chapel, as a memorial to his wife Jane Whiteley, William L. Whiteley gave an organ which was dedicated in Nov.1936, built by Abbott & Smith of Leeds. The alter table, pulpit and communion rail made by “the Mouseman” of Kilburn were provided by Holmes Whiteley in memory of his mother, Kate, dedicated on 24th July,1955. Nine “mice” can be found in the Chapel. In 1943 a mosaic plaque depicting “The last Supper”, was made by Mr. Edwin Read, stained glass manufacturer of Leeds and given as a memorial to his late wife Laura. Acetylene lighting was installed by G.A. Tankard of Pool – “Sunlight Acetylene Generator”. John Wesley held a meeting in Otley in the open air on 17th July 1759. It has been recorded that he said he found ” Otley to be a drunken and rebellious place”.

Two famous people have been connected with this church. Frederick Pratt Green, born in 1903 serving in Pool from 1931-1934. He wrote 27 hymns with only Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley writing more.

Joseph Rhodes Dunwell (1807-1835, gravestone lies flat in St. Wilfrids churchyard.) from Pool. His father (James Dunwell (1781-1856), was a carrier to Knaresborough on Wed. and Bradford every Thursday living at Pool Farm Cottage till after 1849). Joseph was one of the earliest missionary volunteers to come from the Leeds District. On 15th October 1834 he arrived in Bristol to travel to the Cape Coast (now Ghana) where he only lived for six months before he died in the country which had the reputation of being the “white man’s grave”. The Dunwell family can be traced back to the Muster Rolls of Otley of 1539. In Otley Parish Register on 30.3.1605 the birth of “Dorithy Dunwell daughter of Xpofer of Poole” There appear to have been at least three brothers of this name around this time. The last member of the Dunwell family, Madge Wainwright, died 10th March 1977.

1st wedding to take place in the Chapel was Ennis Whiteley (daughter of Wm.L.Whiteley of the paper mill) to Albert Carradice on 4th Aug. 1914. (outbreak of WW1) 2nd wedding in the chapel was that of William Patrick, son of the founder of Peter Patrick & Son, Otley, woodworkers and sawmills, to Miss Paterson, to live at Cartref, Otley Road, Pool.

3rd wedding on 8th Sept 1915 was Holmes Whiteley to Kate Cockram of Cranford, Mill Lane Pool.

During WW2 in case of invasion, plans for sewage, burials and a mortuary were made for the White Hart, St. Wilfrid’s

Church and Methodist School Room

Methodist Sunday school, rear.

On 19th Oct. 1929 a stone was laid for the Methodist Sunday School, officially opened on 15th March 1930. The cost of this building was £1,800. A two day bazaar was held realising £300 which cleared the debt.

The Country Players were formed in 1947 with their first production, “George and Margaret” being held in the Sunday school. “Some blue pencil was required occasionally for some of the plays to satisfy the trustees that they were fit to be performed on chapel premises” (David Whiteley)


THE MANSE “Hazel Lee” No.1 Otley Road – the first of the two semi-detached houses.

Acquired in 1931. The first married minister to live there was the Rev. F. Pratt Green,

a prolific hymn writer, who, after leaving Pool became well known as a hymn writer being one

of the largest contributors to the Methodist Hymn book. Photo shows Jean Whiteley and her class.

Cabin Sunday school 1930
Old Pool Bank Wesleyan Methodist Sunday School 1930

OLD POOL BANK WESLEYAN METHODIST CHAPEL There was a small unused quarry workers cabin within the old quarry near Far Row cottages, on Old Pool Bank. Known as the “Cabin” it was owned by Messrs B. Whitaker and Sons, Pool Bank Quarry owners, who allowed it to be used as a chapel which 1879 became primarily Old Pool Bank’s Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. It was at

various times used by the Church of England, Plymouth Brethren and The Salvation Army. (Documents file) It was also later used as Old Pool Bank “village hall”, being used for events such as public meetings, polling station, Residents Association meetings, pantomimes, etc. By 1894 the number attending the services was so large it became uncomfortably small so it was decided to make much needed improvements.

After closing for some months, in October of 1894 it reopened when the building had been enlarged, the walls plastered and colour washed, the ceiling raised, boarded and varnished. It was declared “the building now has a very comfortable and pleasing appearance.” The total cost of the alterations amounted to £73.2.7d. leaving a small

sum of £18.9.10d. owing. The cost had been mostly met by Mr. S. Whitaker of Pool Bank Quarries. The Wesleyans had “not let the grass grow under their feet” and by November they had almost paid off their debt by holding a tea and service of song. The “cabin” was demolished by Whiteley’s in the 1950’s. West Yorkshire Archives, Wakefield ref. WYL1165/20/15 for more info. on Cabin

The Chapel of Ease for Pool-in-Wharfedale

A Chapel of Ease was a place of worship provided for the ease and comfort of those people who lived a distance away from a church. In the case of Pool worshippers would have had to travel on foot or horseback to Otley Parish Church.

Records suggest that the village has had a place of worship from at least 1538 – almost five hundred years – with a curate recorded from 1553. The original dedication was to St. Swithin. (Derek Dalton) At sometime a Chapel of Ease was built on the land which is now occupied by St. Wilfrid’s Church. The Chapel was demolished and rebuilt in 1839, remaining a Chapel of Ease until 1879 when Pool was constituted a separate Parish becoming the St. Wilfrid’s Church we see today.

Little is known of the features of our Chapel of Ease but a letter sent to the Wharfedale Observer on 27th April. 1883, written by Col. G. Rhodes who had lived in Pool, gives us an insight into the building and the village in the mid 19th century.

” The present church (St. Wilfrid’s) was erected about 40 years ago at the site of the old chapel. A Chapel of Ease to its mother church of Otley.

I can still remember that tiny chapel, with its uncomfortable square pews, lined for the most part with red and green cloth and which from dampness or want of fresh air, emitted a clothy odour.

In those early days of coach and waggon locomitive the Royal Mail Cart used to pass daily from the hamlet of Pool as far as Otley, returning to Wetherby in time for the Royal Mail Coach on its way to London. For about 43 years the Rev. W. J. Ridsdale held the cure or was the incumbent of Pool.

As well as I can remember the square pews and other sittings have been lately removed out of the present Pool church originally belonging to the Chapel of Ease. Most of the inhabitants of this hamlet numbering 100 to 150 souls occupied regular chapel sittings, of which for the most part they were the owners. The said original Chapel having been erected by themselves.” The box pews were about four feet high and had doors.

In his book “Wharfedale”, Thomas Shaw wrote in 1830, “The chapel is plain and neat; it is in the gift of the Vicar of Otley, being a chapel of ease, value about ninety pounds a year.”

It is also written that the Chapel of Ease had a belfry. It was suggested by architectural historian Peter Thornborrow during his survey in 2005 that the lower section of the present tower may have been part of the original Chapel of Ease. The nearby Parish church at Brafferton near Boroughbridge had been enlarged some eight years prior to Pool, when its chancel and tower were also retained.

Below are some events which took place during the life of the Chapel of Ease


1538 The will of William Smythe of Pool, made in 1538, proves that the original dedication was to St. Swithin. (Derek Dalton). It is probably about this date that the Chapel of Ease was built.

1553 Richard Oldrede, Curate.

1558 Rev. Sir John Baynes described in the Testamenta Leodensia as Priest of Pool

1635 James Illingworth, Curate

1640-1658 The Chapel of Ease made an attempt to break away from the mother church at Otley, but this was refused. Shown in a Parliamentary Survey of this date.

1642 The will of Wm. Vavasour dated 3rd Sept. 1642 refers to five chapels within the parish of Otley one of which was “Poole”.

1650 Valued in the Parliamentary return at £71.17s.

1651 The Chapel of Ease is mentioned in the Otley Parish registers.

1661 Isabella daughter of Thomas and Isabella was baptised in October at “Powle Chappell.”.

1675-6 John Thomlinson is mentioned in the Fleetham Charity as Curate of Pool. He was licensed to the curacy of Pool. (H. Speight)

Tythe payments to the Chapelry of Pool


Farmer Laycock donates £1 annually from three of his fields to the Charity, Poole Doles, which is attached to the Chapelry of Pool. In 1728 he is joined by Hobson and in 1749 by John Dixon, a total annual contribution of £l.13.0d. (£1.65p) was made. To this is added Pool’s portion of a grant given by Queen Elizabeth the First, of 7s. or 7/6d. (37p.) a year. (This was taken from the total grant given to the poor of Otley Parish of £5.6s.8d.).

1749 The Chapel is augmented by £200 and 1752 by another £200.

1754 The Curate is entitled to the annual sum of five shillings a year payable by the Church warden for preaching a sermon at Tollerton on Poole Feast Sunday.

1765 Christopher Alcock, Curate.

1765-8 John Thomlinson “curate of Poole”. (F .Morrell)

1770-8 William Smith “incumbent of Poole”.

1778-89 Roger Wilson LL.B “minister of Pool” living at Grove House, Bondgate Otley.

c.1790 Succeeded by another William Smith living at Rottten Row, (now Mercury Row) Otley. “Curate of Otley and incumbent of Poole”.

1793 Chalice, Paten and flagon presented by the Township of Pool. These were replaced in 1924 by a gift from the Mothers’ Union.

1806 Rev. William Smith is Curate. Died 15 Nov.1834.

1834 Rev. William John Ridsdale, aged 30, presented to the perpetual curacy of Pool, near Otley. Patron, the Rev. Ayscough Fawkes, Vicar of Otley. Incumbent for Pool’s Chapel of Ease remaining in charge for 45 years. As with all the incumbents he was in the service of the Parish Church of Otley until the Constitution of the Parish of Pool in 1879 when it became St. Wilfrid’s church.

1838 The Chapel of Ease is demolished.

1839 The Chapel of Ease in Pool is rebuilt at a cost of £330.

1840 The new Chapel of Ease is officially dedicated on 14..6.1840.

1851 Survey of the Chapel. (see later)

1872 Pool Church of England school is built, sometimes referred to as Pool National School.

1879.26.6 Constitution of the Parish of Pool. Reginald P. Daniell-Bainbridge MA. is appointed the first vicar of St. Wilfrid’s Church.

1880 The Chapel of Ease is dedicated so becoming St. Wilfrid’s Church.

Pool’s curates lived in Otley travelling to Pool each Sunday to take the daily service.

During 45 years of dedicated service the Rev. William John Ridsdale was to see many changes, the most important of which was the demolition and rebuilding of the Chapel of Ease. Although there had been several small schools in the village, it was not until 1872 that the first school for all village children was opened. This was the Church of England school which was on Main Street. The curate cared much for the welfare of the children and could be seen making regular visits to the school along with his daughter Miss Mary Dorothy Ridsdale, who would help the children with their reading. On Nov. 24th 1873The Rev. J. W. Ridsdale called and left one pound one shilling at Pool School to be placed in the Yorkshire Penny Bank for the Pool Clothing Club.

An illustration of his love of the village is given by the Rev. G. H. Mercer in his book written in 1929. “From his home, Chevin Grange at the foot of the Chevin, each Sunday he would ride to Pool on his white pony to take either Matins or an afternoon service, alternating between Pool and Bramhope. With him he always carried a milk can of hot soup to distribute to the poor of the village.”

BWCh Rev
Ridsdale family gravestone

In 1879 after 45 years of service to both church and village, William John Ridsdale retired. He died in Knaresborough on 25th March 1885 at the age of 81 and is buried in Pool churchyard. The headstone, for William John Ridsdale, his wife Isabella, daughter Mary Dorothy and sons Francis Thomas and William Everard, can be found against the wall on the west side of the churchyard. Its unusual shape seems to mirror the porch entrance to the church.

Window in memory of his son Francis Thomas who died in 1855 aged 29

Leeds Mercury 5th October 1858.

“ANCIENT ORDER OF ROMANS FRIENDLY SOCITY. The officers and members of No.31 Senate of the above order, celebrated their eighteenth anniversary yesterday (Monday) at the White Hart Inn, Poole, near Otley. The members walked in procession, accompanied by the Poole Brass Band to the church, where an excellent discourse was preached by the Rev. W. J. Ridsdale, M.A. At the close of the sermon the members dined together in the lodge room. From the report of the secretary it appears that the Senate is in a very prosperous condition and is doing a great amount of good in the neighbourhood.”

The New Chapel of Ease

This old photograph shows the Chapel of Ease built in 1839 and before becoming St. Wilfrid’s church at the Constitution of the Parish of Pool on the 26th June 1879. No apse is shown here, this was added in 1890-1.

As the village was expanding rapidly due to the prosperity of the two Pool mills, High Mill (or Walk Mill) and Low Mill, and Pool Bank Quarry, the population increasing from 182 in 1801 to 363 in 1841, the need to rebuild and enlarge the Chapel of Ease would have become evident.

An important source of income for the church at that time was pew rental, therefore by doubling the number of new sittings it would enhance the income.

At the base of the tower is preserved this important historical board recording,

This Church was rebuilt and enlarged in the Year 1840, by which means 100 additional Sittings were obtained and in consequence of a Grant from the Incorporated Society for promoting the enlargement building and repairing of Churches and Chapels, so of that number are hereby declared to be free and unappropriated for ever in addition to the 100 appropriated Sittings formerly provided. William John Ridsdale, Minister. Samuel Burnley, Church warden.

In 1851 a further survey of the Chapel took place:

Free sittings 80. Other sittings 120. Pew rent £1.00.

On 30.3.1851 there was no morning service. The afternoon there were 84 attendees. Evening, no service.

The average attendees for the preceding six months from 30.3.1851 were

Morning service: 90. Afternoon: 90. Evening: no service.

Sunday school, morning 50. Signed by W. J. Ridsdale. (Otley Museum.O/p/ce/1).

A few artefacts were transferred from the Chapel of Ease to the present St. Wilfrid’s Church, including the Chalice, Paten and Flagon of 1793.

On the east wall, adjacent to the hymn board, is a wall monument dated 1743, a memorial to Henry Atkinson of Caley Hall, raised by his wife Francis Fawkes of Farnley Hall. This features an heraldic shield forming a conjoined achievement of arms set within a shaped cartouche with an open-pedimen. The coat of arms on the plaque show; on the left the coat of arms of Henry Atkinson’s father and the right, the coat of arms of his mother. (Peter Thornborrow, Architectural historian)

In the churchyard are a number of older head stones placed around it’s boundary, many date from before the building of the new Chapel. In 1956 many of the headstones, mainly from around 1700 and 1800, were re-sited to make a grass area which would be easier to maintain.

Other items remain from the days when the Church was still a Chapel of EaseThe chancel floor has a brass plate inscribed: John Pullein April 5 1842, Ann Pullein March 17 1851; Fanny Pullein March 29 1856; John Pullein March 12 1866. These were family members of the Lord of the Manor of Pool.

There is a plaque high on the south wall in memory of Maryann Whitworth Curry who had died in 1840 aged only 13 weeks. Her parents Joseph and Sarah were running a school for seventeen boys in the Manor House in 1841. After moving to Dewsbury, in 1846 he wrote the book entitled, “Curry’s Chronological and Geographical Family Guide to Holy Scriptures”

It seems the three stained glass windows, now in the apse, were originally in the Chapel of Ease.

N.B. The Church and Chapel were both on standby to act as temporary mortuaries if required

The Village in 1847