The church dates from the 1850’s when Lady Frankland Russell, a member of the Frankland family of Blubberhouses Hall decided to build a church as a chapel of ease so that her estate workers could worship without having to walk to Fewston. She employed an architect, Edward Buckton Lamb (1805-1869) who was also known as the ‘Rogue Architect’ because he believed in the architectural style known as true Gothic. The style was also used by the more famous architect, William Butterfield who designed a number of churches and schools including All Saints, Margaret Street, London and Balliol College Chapel, Oxford.
Lamb designed four other churches in Yorkshire - at Sowerby, Bagby, Healey and Aldwark, all in the vicinity of another branch of the Frankland family at Thirkleby, near Thirsk. All have a very original Modern Gothic style said to be based on components of Anglo-Venetian and early French. They were part of an attempt to combine medievalism with modernism, traditional forms, new materials, pointed arches and plate glass, all very popular in the 1860’s. A recurring feature was of a tall spire topping a central tower, and an altar which was fully visible from the nave.
Lady Russell endowed the church with £30 per annum and the work was supervised by her estate manager, John Gill. It was consecrated on the 24 September 1856. The old pews, each of which bear Roman numerals, are said to have come from the old church at Thirkleby. In the late nineteenth century the church at Blubberhouses was apparently well attended by the reservoir navvies who also started a Sunday School.
In the chancel there is a tablet in memory of John Gill who died in 1864 aged 66. The tablet was placed there by Lady Frankland Russell ‘in memory of his valuable services’. There is also a memorial to Mary Ann Hall Galloway of Skaife Hall, Blubberhouses who died on the 11 April, 1922 aged 82.
Blubberhouses church from the north.
Photo by Stephen Glover