Todmorden Unitarian Church is Grade I Listed. It is a beautiful, characterful and much-loved building full of quirky features and secret places, managing to be both grand and imposing, and warm and welcoming at the same time.
"The volunteers who run functions are truly dedicated to making your visit special."
The church stands on Honey Hole Road, at the Rochdale end of the town, above the Morrisons supermarket. There are WCs, a kitchen and disabled access.
The church is a 5 minute walk from Todmorden rail station from where its 59m spire is clearly visible. It is 7 minutes from the bus station in the centre of the town.
In the area
Todmorden Town Hall – situated in the centre of Todmorden, this impressive Town Hall is considered one of the best municipal buildings in the country, paid for by John Fielden MP.
Stoodley Pike is a 1,300-foot (400 m) hill in the south Pennines, noted for the 121 feet (37 m) Stoodley Pike Monument at its summit, which dominates the moors above Hebden Bridge and Todmorden.
HCT owns two other buildings nearby: Wainsgate Chapel which is a few miles away above Hebden Bridge, and Farfield Quaker Meeting House, which is in Addingham about 20 miiles away. You could also take in the Bronte Parsonage Museum at Haworth, which is on the way to Addingham and well worth a visit.
Honey Hole Road
07712 622 397
Visits: we welcome visits by prior arrangement with the keyholder, please phone 01706 815407
Bell-ringing enquiries only to the Tower Captain, Helen Rigby, on 01706 847964
Todmorden Unitarian Church, was built in 1864-9 by sons of ‘Honest’ John Fielden MP, a mill-owner and radical who was responsible for the ‘Ten Hours Act’ of 1847 that limited working hours of women and children. The Unitarian Movement originated in Todmorden and Fielden was a leading member.
John Gibson, who worked with Charles Barry on the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster, designed the church. Among its important features are its alignment (south-west), its rose and 5-light chancel windows, the 59m, 3-stage octagonal tower and its lavish decorative scheme which survives largely intact.
Pevsner states that it “survives complete as one of the most elaborate Non-Conformist churches to adopt the style and arrangements of the Established Church during the High Gothic Revival”. Christopher Stell, a national authority on Nonconformist architecture wrote: “as an example of High Victorian church architecture, this bears comparison with some of the best buildings of the Established Church; as representing the Nonconformist architecture of its period, it is unrivalled".
Todmorden was the birthplace of Incredible Edibles, the campaign for local food, which now has a global presence; Incredible Edibles meetings and workshops are held regularly in the church as are other talks and lifelong learning events.
"Todmorden is one of the most impressive and accomplished Victorian Chapels. The setting is exceptional, steep hillside and mature woodland; it is the natural ... focus of Todmorden and could be mistaken for the parish church."
Since HCT acquired the Grade I listed Todmorden Church in 1994 over £1m of restoration work has been completed, but there is much still to do. The restoration work was made possible thanks to generous grants from Historic England, the Heritage Lottery Fund, several grant giving trusts as well as many private individuals. The work has included:
- Repairs to roof, the 59m spire and the chancel, the latter thanks to a grant from the Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust.
- Conservation of the stained glass, which was designed by Jean-Baptiste Capronnier (1814-1891)
- Restoring the derelict lodge
- New heating system, WCs and small kitchen
In 2014, thanks to a generous legacy from a former bell-ringer the ring of bells was also restored.
A free 2-page guide is available. A detailed guide, written by John Crabbe, is available from the church for £5.
Many of this images used on the Todmorden and Wainsgate pages of this website were taken by Todmorden-based Craig Shaw of Blu Planet Photography to whom HCT is most grateful.
"When Saturday finally arrived it really, really was the best day of our lives."
"Whether it’s a low key, intimate affair or a lavish celebration, we here at Todmorden Unitarian Church are happy to help your marriage or wedding blessing come to life."
The Church is proving popular for weddings and is registered for Unitarian religious marriages and for same-sex marriages. In 2014 the church bells were restored and can now be rung for weddings and other events.
Todmorden Unitarian Church offers full catering and access facilities. The church has hosted candlelit concerts, rock ‘n’ roll gigs, parties, weddings, blessings, exhibitions, festivals and many great community events.
If you would like to book the church for a wedding or event, do complete the enquiry form here, or get directly in touch with our wonderful team of volunteers at Todmorden.
Get involvedLooking after a building of this size takes a lot of hard work, and we are always looking for volunteers to join our friendly community group or simply lend a hand from time to time. HCT's volunteers organise an extensive programme of events, including exhibitions, classes, concerts and talks.
"It’s not all work though! We put heart and soul into making sure people can come and enjoy this special building – there’s always plenty of tea, coffee and cake and lots of laughs and support for our wonderful volunteers."
Supporting Todmorden Unitarian Church
Todmorden Church is without an endowment and is very costly to maintain and repair Please consider contributing to its upkeep or leaving a bequest in your will to support the church.