ST GILES Church in Bramhope is celebrating its 140th anniversary but its origins are far older.

Here church member Jacquie Howard describes those origins and the history of the present day church.

"It seems the first mention of a church dedicated to St Giles in the village is when it was in the ownership of Baldwin de Bramhope. In an undated charter written in the early part of the thirteenth century we can read 'to God and the Chapel of St Giles of Bramhope and the chaplain thereof one toft and one acre of land'. A toft is an ancient word meaning a dwelling and its outbuildings so we can assume this chaplain had a small cottage of some kind and a field to grow his food.

"How long this chapel stood for we don’t know but as the centuries rolled on the village was passed from one noble family to another. Kirkstall Abbey and St Leonard’s Hospital York owned and farmed much of the land in this area until Henry the VIII dissolved the great religious houses and gave this portion to Sir Henry Clifford of Skipton Castle. The Cliffords didn’t keep Bramhope for very long. They sold the land and Bramhope Hall to the Dyneley family. In 1649 Robert Dyneley built a chapel in his grounds. This Puritan Chapel continued as the village’s place of worship until it proved too small. In1881 James Rhodes who was now the owner of Bramhope Hall gifted a piece of land on a prominent site bordering on the Otley Turnpike Road(now the A660 )

"The people of Bramhope raised the then enormous sum of £2000 towards the building in local Millstone grit. Its original design included two aisles but only one was completed. As a mark of continuity, they installed the bell from the Puritan Chapel which had been cast in 1652 and is still rung each Sunday. The church was built with plain glass windows but soon after the church was completed the St Giles memorial window was installed and by 1887 St Giles boasted some fine examples of Victorian stained glass. An interesting oddity is the Angel Window near the font as on the left foot you can count 6 toes.

"There are many commemorative brass plaques some of which hint at interesting stories notably the plaque for Francis Ellershaw. She and her sister were respected church members. Frances took charge of a Girls Mission School in Likoma in present day Malawi. She sailed for Central Africa in August 1895 and never returned as she died there in 1897 at only 44.

"St Giles has a total of nine pieces of woodwork made by Robert Thompson of Kilburn famed for the quality of his work and known as the Mouseman for the little mouse he always carved on his pieces. It is fun for children to investigate the church ticking off the little mice they find.

"In 1977 the congregation rose once again to a building challenge when it became necessary to add better facilities for the congregation and the village to meet and have social events. Various plans were considered, and the decision was taken to add a generous hall, a kitchen and toilets plus a meeting room and a small Chapel dedicated to All Saints. The hall has proved to be an outstanding space hosting a variety of groups and clubs in The Brownies, Church groups, Parish Council events and most recently Marshal Arts classes.

"The grounds have never been used for burials and the mature trees and green space around much of the building is a delight for children’s groups to enjoy a summer Teddy bears’ picnic or photographs for weddings and baptisms plus the memorable occasion there were stalls and refreshments to cheer on The Tour De Yorkshire as it sped past.

"St Giles Vicar Matt Broughton and its congregation are looking forward to a busy year ahead and the church’s many anniversaries to come."