During eight hundred years of comparative obscurity, Goldthorpe has been linked with Thurnscoe, Hickleton, Melton, and Bolton, and through these with Monk Bretton Priory. In 1086, when King William the Conqueror compiled his record of information called Doomsday Book, it was stated that:

“In Guldetorp Siward had ten oxgangs to be taxed and land to half a plough, valued at twenty shillings.”

A second reference stated that:

“In Godetorpe and Dermescop (Thurnscoe) Osul had five carucates of land to be taxed, where there may be four ploughs. Roger now has three villanes with three ploughs and seven acres of meadow and wood pastures, six quarenten long and two broad.” Valued at thirty shillings in King Edward the Confessor’s time and sixteen shillings in King William’s time.

Thus we know the names of three men who strode about Goldthorpe all those centuries ago. Why the land in this particular part should be called Goldthorpe may not be known. The word simply suggests “tax-farm” or hamlet.

Robert de Goldthorpe lived here in King Edward III’s reign (14th century) and in 1463 the will of Thomas Goldthorpe said that Henry should have a house with ground called “Dovecote Land” in Goldthorpe.

The family name of Goldthorpe seems to have died out in King Henry VIII’s reign, and all the property came into the possession of Henry Theodore Broadhead Esquire.

In 1892 the hamlet consisted only of three farm houses, the Horse and Groom Inn and two old cottages where Empire Theatre (now a shop) stands.
In a hay loft belonging to a farmer called Mr Robert the Reverend John Dalton, Vicar of Hickleton (1886 – 1924) started a Sunday School.

Although Goldthorpe was part of the parish of Bolton upon Dearne, the really effective Christian Ministry came from Hickleton in the persons of the Reverend John Dalton and his wife.

“Those early days,” wrote Fr. Dalton, “were strenuous indeed, while Goldthorpe was in course of building. In passing through what is now Main Street, you were fortunate if you did not leave one of your shoes behind you sticking in the very tenacious clay. And as few of the houses had steps you had more climbing to do to get into them. Indeed, there were many more desirable places than Goldthorpe then was, and it required some courage to face the discomforts and difficulties inevitable in a rapidly growing colliery district”.

St. Alban’s church originally consisted of a room divided into two parts by wooden shutters, so that one part could be used for general purposes—sewing meetings, night schools and classes.

When the Mission Room was built the partition was taken down and the whole space was used for the church. Subsequently, this was found to be too small and the building was enlarged.

The organ in the church was bought by penny subscriptions and by a generous gift from the Rev. J. P. Golding Bird. Bit by bit the Church was painted inside and out by willing amateurs and adorned with pictures and texts and made homely and as fit as it could be made for the worship of God.

The first service was held on the Sunday after Christmas, 1895, and the last on the Sunday, May 14th, 1916. For twenty years the mission held its own and made its way into the hearts of the people who responded bravely to the summons of the little tinkling bell and made up by their earnestness and devotion for the poverty of their surroundings. The mission experienced the usual difficulties in meeting expenses, inevitable with such a small population as Goldthorpe then had, but the congregation gradually increased and was from the first very united, very enthusiastic and very much devoted to its humble house of Prayer.

The memory of the Reverend John and Mrs Dalton is still held dear. The Late Viscount Halifax wrote of Father Dalton when he first to Hickleton in 1886:

“Mr. Dalton is converting not only the Parish but the neighbourhood. The church is filled to overflowing, the little children come to church on week days through the snow at 7.30, and the question of purgatory is discussed in the Public House.”

Until their church was built the Roman Catholics worshipped in the Mission Room of St. Alban’s and afterwards the congregation of the Sacred Heart presented to the Vicar and Mrs. Dalton a beautiful Epergne with an inscription expressing their gratitude for the sympathy and help which the Vicar and Mrs. Dalton had given them while build the Church of the Sacred Heart.

When Father Dalton resigned his charge of the Goldthorpe Mission, he received the following message from the Goldthorpe Free Church Council:

“Now that you have officially relinquished your charge of Goldthorpe, the members of the above Council desire to express to you the appreciation of the kindly service you have rendered to this district for so many years. With Mrs. Dalton you have been to the fore in all efforts to improve the life of the locality and it must be a source of comfort and joy to know that so many of the inhabitants of Goldthorpe have been blessed and their lives enriched through the Ministry that it has been your privilege to render for many year. We recognise the kindness in Ministering to the needs of so many sick, poor and troubled people, irrespective of Creed. Yours has indeed been a labour of love in attempting to remove burdens from the minds of so many people here.”

In 1919 the Reverend A. W. Wells, The First official Vicar Goldthorpe, wrote,

“On the Octave Day (July 29th), Rev. J. Dalton preached at Evensong and as usual attracted a large congregation. It is very pleasing to know of the real love Goldthorpe folks have for him and Mrs. Dalton and it will be a long time before their devoted work is forgotten by the people of this parish.”

The Reverend John Dalton died on August 24th 1924 and in 1926 people subscribed to buy a beautifully Belgian carved pulpit of the seventeenth century, and it stands in the Parish Church as a thanksgiving memorial to John and Mrs. Dalton.

On Thursday afternoon, May 18th, 1916 in brilliant sunshine, the consecration of the new Church took place. Father Dalton wrote:

“It was a very solemn and impressive service. Of course, the church built to accommodate 600 was crowded, and hundreds of people were turned away for lack of room.

The Bishop of Sheffield,  the Right Reverend Leonard Hedley, officiated, and the sermon was preached by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Cosmo Gordon Lang, Lord Archbishop of York.  His Grace made an appeal to the people to make the Church their Home, a Home for prayer and spiritual refreshment. His words were fatherly, loving, and intensely earnest, finding an echo in the hearts of his hearers, and will (please God) be remembered and acted upon long after the present time.”

The late 2nd Viscount Halifax had written,

“There shall be one house in Goldthorpe which shall be really beautiful, and which will make every man dignified by his walking into it”.

For this reason he, Charles Lindley, and Agnes Elizabeth, Viscount and Viscountess Halifax gave and dedicated the present Parish Church. The dedication was in honour of St. John the Evangelist and St. Mary Magdalene, “to whom I have a special devotion,” wrote Viscount Halifax, and “whom I always look upon as my patrons”.

The church was designed by Alfred Y. Nutt of Slough in 1914 and built between 1915-16. It is an interesting early example of the use of re-enforced Ferro-concrete for both the building of churches and for church furniture. It is due to the unusual design, the revolutionary building technique and the materials used that have resulted in the Church and Presbytery being awarded Grade 2* listing status.

The Church consists of a South West Tower, Porch, West Gallery, Nave, North and South Aisles, Chancel with Apse. Lady Chapel on the south side of the chancel, vestries on the North side.

The tower is very squarely and strongly constructed, the lower chamber being open to the air. It is a Venetian-styled Campanile, above which there is a four faced clock, each face six feet in diameter. To the clock were attached bar-bell chimes which could be rung independently of the mechanism, but these fell in to disuse and were removed in the 1950’s. Above the western face of the clock is written, “Ecce nohi contracta tempora dextra.”

The massive Baldachino over the High Altar is made of ferro-concrete. The canopy is supported by four black pillars with gilded capitals. Under the canopy is a sculptured Holy Dove, with Sanctus inscribed three times, and under that a large Crucifix in black with burnished halo a copy of a work by Donatello.

On the north and south walls are some remarkable Stations of the Cross carved by a Belgian Refugee. He was also responsible for the Pieta in the north isle, for the image of Christ that originally resided under the Jesu Altar (removed in the 1980’s), and for the Statues of St. John and St. Mary Magdalene high up on the walls of the Lady Chapel. The original image of Christ in the centre of the Jesu altar was ‘Ecce Homo’ and was a casting of an Italian masterpiece. This was replaced in recent years by an image of the Sacred Heart.

There is a remarkable painting in the Lady Chapel of St. John and St. Mary with our Lady and the Holy Child. Many visitors think it is a genuine Italian Classic of 15th century, but in fact it is a copy signed with the initials E.S.W. and dated 1915. Until the restoration there were 2 other pictures hung on the east wall of the Lady Chapel, one either side of the Reredos. These were for many years under appreciated mainly due to years of dirt that had accumulated. In the 2002 restoration, these were removed form the church for cleaning. It was then that it was discovered that it was not 86 years of accumulated dirt but closer to 500 years worth. These are currently in the keeping of York Minter.

Above the door into the St Michael’s room at the west end of the south aisle, there is a Calvary Group. The figure of our Lord was carved by Sister Katherine, who was a Carmelite Nun in Bayswater.

St Michael’s room is in actual fact the base of the tower and was originally the Baptistery and latterly since the Mission church of St Michael closed in early 1980’s was know as St Michael’s Chapel. The original Altar and 5ft high Crucifix from St Michael’s Mission was situated in there. In the 2002 restoration the Font was moved to the North west end of the Nave. The plain leaded glass in the west window was removed and a new window designed commemorating the parishes closely entwined 20th centre history with the coal mining industry. Below this window is kept a record and tribute to those who have died in the local collieries.

The original High Altar Tabernacle and Candlesticks of brass and elaborate silver work were stolen in the late 1980’s and have never been recovered. Smaller gilded wooden replacements adorned the gradine (the integral selves at the back of the High Altar) until the Easter Vigil in 2009, when through the generosity of the parishioners, larger Candlesticks that more closely match the originals were lit for the 1st time.

The 11ft tall Paschal Candlestick is a composite antique work representing the styles of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The pulpit was obtained from St. Gregory’s Church, Small Heath, Birmingham, and is a beautiful piece of Belgian carved workmanship of about the year 1600.

The War Memorial was unveiled by the late 2nd Viscount Halifax and dedicated by the Bishop of Sheffield on Thursday, April 7th, 1921.

The memorial is of re-enforced concrete, standing 11ft high and 6ft wide. A statue of St. George, a copy of one by Donatello, is the central figure, on each side of which is a pillar of black Belgian marble with gilded capitals supporting a cornice. The plinth is faced with a spar, and beneath the plinth is a table on the face of which is a tablet bearing the names of the men who died in the War to end all Wars, the First World War. The War Memorial was slightly redesigned less than 30 years later in order to commemorate the men of Goldthorpe who fell in the Second World War.

With the building and consecration of the Parish Church, Goldthorpe now ceased to be part of the parish of Bolton upon Dearne, and for the first time became a place on the map in its own right. According to the Census of 1911, out of a population of 8,670, 4,500 would now be numbered in the parish of Goldthorpe. The Instrument assigning this particular district to the new church at Goldthorpe was published in The London Gazette, 23rd June, 1916.

The new parish boundary was formed on the west by Darfield, on the north-west by Thurnscoe, on the north-east by Hickleton, on the south-east by Barnburgh, and on the south-west by the junction of West Moore Dike and Far Moore Dike at Bolton; along Far Moore Dike for about fifty-eight chains as far as the southern side of Goldthorpe lane; then northward to and north-westward along Goldthorpe Lane for three and a half chains until it meets a roadway into Highgate Lane; along this lane and then northward along Highgate Lane for five chains to the bridge carrying the Wath Branch Line of the Hull, Barnsley, and West Riding Joint Railway; then due west for fifty chains to the boundary of Darfield-Bolton parishes.

In the years following the First World War there was much unemployment and poverty in the parish. The then Vicar, The Reverend Harry Howard, obtained clothing and money from far and wide to relieve distress. He organised plays, pantomimes, bazaars, socials, suppers and outings and many people and children found their happiness in and around the Church.

The Nativity and Passion Plays and the Corpus Christi Processions were notable events. The Southern end of the Village has always be know as Highgate, and a pound community within its own right. Since the time of Fr. Shaw, services had been held at Highgate, first in a fish shop and later in a wooden hut. This soon proved to be inadequate. The Church of St. Michael in the Field (pictured above and below), a small dual purpose building and a priest’s house were built at Highgate in 1924, and the first priest to work there was the Reverend Arthur Howard, brother of the Vicar.

The Mission Church of St Michael was closed in the early 1980’s after serving both Highgate and the whole parish for nearly 60 years. Much of the congregation and many of the furnishings and fixings moved to The Parish Church, and the 2 congregations became one.

The original St Albans Church was still standing next to the new Parish Church and was becoming much the worse for wear, serving as a small church hall and Scout hut. There was need for a larger building and with the New Hall fund reaching £144, plans were drawn up. The original scheme provided a beautiful two storied building, which complimented the Churches continental design but the contractors went bankrupt, and Father Howard summoned to his aid voluntary workers to finish a less complicated structure. It was opened by the late 2nd Viscount Halifax on Easter Monday in 1928.

The Hall still stands today, though a little more that £144 is needed to provide a much needed refurbishment.

Since the consecration of the church in 1916 the people of Goldthorpe have loved and cared for their church. The liturgical reforms of the 1960’S offer the opportunity for the church to be renovated. In practice this meant things like the gradine on the High Alter was removed, the Tabernacle relocated to the Jesu Altar, the removal of the gates leading into the Chancel and the introduction of the free standing Alter. The interior of the church was also re-painted and the minor cracking of the concrete fabric of the building was repaired.

Over the following 30 years many of those things altered in the 1960’s were reinstated, however, the walls kept cracking and the tower was becoming more and more un-sound and dangerous. An incredible sum of money was needed and was raised and in 2000 the restoration started. Completed in 2002, the church as you see it today very closely resembles the church you would have seen on the day of its consecration. A more comprehensive account of the 2002 Restoration can be found else where on the Web site.

The original five Trustees of the Right of Patronage were the Right Reverend Leonard Hedley, Bishop of Sheffield (died 1940), the Right Honourable Anthony Earl of Shaftesbury, Maurice George Carr Glynn (died 1920), The Honourable Edward Frederick Lindley Wood and the Reverend Walter Howard Frere (died 1938). Five new Trustees were appointed in 1948 and these were the Reverend Father R. E. Raynes, Superior of the Community of the Resurrection, and the Reverend Fathers W. F. Bishop, A. H. Blair, D. A. Edwards, and E. Millard, priests of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfleld. The Patronage today resides with the Viscount Halifax and the Superior of the Community of the Resurrection.

If 2nd Viscount Halifax needed a memorial other than the influence which he exercised, the Parish Church of Goldthorpe could indeed be said to be the memorial to him and his gracious Lady.

Lord and Lady Halifax built and furnished at enormous expense, because they loved the people of Goldthorpe and would give them nothing less than the best. To the original design, of an unusual material, the church was built in acknowledgment of the glory, the majesty the beauty and the power of God.

Past down to later generations are the stories of the original inhabitants of Main Street telling of how Lord Halifax insisted on coming down their street so that he could see them and greet them.

He was and is universally respected and loved because he was known to be “the man who knelt morning after morning at the altar, on the threshold of another world more real to him than the world seen by mortal eye.”

In 1930 Lord Halifax wrote: “On looking back over the last 75 years I see the best of all good gifts, the gifts of the Holy Communion. Our Lord’s Presence in Sacrament has been the support, the strength and joy of my life. Without it my life would have been such as I tremble to think of, and it is because of all the Blessed Sacrament has been to me that I wish to thank God for it in the most public manner I can. If those who read this will say a prayer for me at Mass when I leave this world……. no words that I can find would express my gratitude.”

This faith is impressively expressed in Goldthorpe Parish Church. The High Altar stands in splendid isolation beneath the massive baldachino, surrounded by the lofty over-reaching arches of the church. Light and spacious, it is possible to do all things well in honour of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who yet humbles Himself in order that we may receive Him into our hearts.