900 Year Celebrations

St Peter's Church - 900 year celebrations logo (1120-2020)The year 2020 marks the 900th anniversary of the first stone church being built on the site in Birstall – although Christianity had existed from before this time on the same spot (see our History section for more details).

We’re celebrating this important milestone with a year of events and special acts, including:

  • During the autumn of 2019 we will be planting 900 bulbs in the church grounds due to flower in the spring of 2020
  • The challenge for the congregation to carry out 900 acts of kindness (‘pay it forward’) during the twelve months of the celebrations
  • We hope to give out 900 invitations during the year

Plus there are many other events we are organising, which you can see here.

Photograph of St Peter's church tower

To put this 900 year timespan into perspective, we’ve put together a timeline of local and world events that the church here in Birstall has been witness to – you may be amazed!

900 year timeline

  1. 1120 First stone church built, dedicated to St Peter and St Paul
  2. 1168 School of Oxford founded (Age of church: 48)
  3. 1199 Richard the Lionheart dies (Age of church: 79)
  4. Rector: Dolfin (1199 – 1216)
  5. 1200 Stone church extended (Age of church: 80)
  6. 1215 Magna Carta signed (Age of church: 95)
  7. Rector: Ralph (1218 – 1219)
  8. Rector: Henry of Horbury (?) (1220 – 1228)
  9. Rector: Richard (1228 – 1268)
  10. 1260 Chartres cathedral consecrated (Age of church: 140)
  11. Rector: Thomas de Bolean (1268 – 1279)
  12. Rector: Thomas de Dalton (1279 – 1287)
  13. Vicar: Ralph de Liversegg (1280 – 1309)
  14. Rector: William de Pickering (1289 – 1309)
  15. 1301 Nostell Priory appointed Rectors of the Parish (Age of church: 181)
  16. Vicar: Richard de Hilegh (1309 – 1341)
  17. 1314 Battle of Bannockburn (Age of church: 194)
  18. Vicar: Henry de Rillington (1341 – 1349)
  19. 1347 Black Death strikes Europe (Age of church: 227)
  20. Vicar: John de Rillington (1349 – 1369)
  21. Vicar: Robert Davy (1368 – 1394)
  22. 1382 John Wycliffe, pre-Reformation religious reformer, and his followers finish translating the Latin Bible into English (Age of church: 262)
  23. 1390 Church rebuild finished (Age of church: 270)
  24. Vicar: Richard de Liversegg (1394 – 1430)
  25. Vicar: Thomas Gudeale (1430 – 1460)
  26. 1431 Joan of Arc executed (Age of church: 311)
  27. 1455 Wars of the Roses began (Age of church: 335)
  28. 1455 Johann Gutenberg completes the first printed Bible (Age of church: 335)
  29. Vicar: Richard Messing (1460 – 1462)
  30. Vicar: John Grene (1462 – 1464)
  31. Vicar: John Southwell (1464 – 1465)
  32. Vicar: John Kent (1465 – 1499)
  33. 1490 Church rebuilt, dedicated to just St Peter (Age of church: 370)
  34. 1492 Christopher Columbus sails to America (Age of church: 372)
  35. Vicar: Hugh Anne (1499 – 1508)
  36. 1498 Da Vinci paints The Last Supper (Age of church: 378)
  37. 1500 Third tier of tower added with four bells (Age of church: 380)
  38. Vicar: John Hawkesworth (1508 – 1516)
  39. Vicar: Richard (Ralph) Holand (1516 – 1520)
  40. 1517 Martin Luther writes Theses (Age of church: 397)
  41. Vicar: Christopher Wilson (1520 – 1532)
  42. Vicar: Geoffrey Downes (1532 – 1535)
  43. 1534 Church in England becomes independent of Rome (Age of church: 414)
  44. Vicar: Arthur Cole (1535 – 1537)
  45. Vicar: Richard Dene (1537 – 1538)
  46. Vicar: William Ermysted (1538 – 1557)
  47. 1539 Every church in England to have a bible in the English language (Age of church: 419)
  48. 1556 Church school founded by William Ermystede (Age of church: 436)
  49. Vicar: William Taylier (1557 – 1564)
  50. 1558 Parish registers begin (Age of church: 438)
  51. Vicar: Nicholas Wilson (1564 – 1585)
  52. 1582 Pope Gregory XIII implements the Gregorian calendar (Age of church: 462)
  53. Vicar: Robert Dickson (1587 – 1614)
  54. 1605 Gunpowder plot (Age of church: 485)
  55. Vicar: Richard Marsh (1614 – 1649)
  56. 1642 Civil War begins (ends in 1651) (Age of church: 522)
  57. During the Commonwealth Period, 1649-1660, there were three ministers known as “intruding”:
  58. Joseph Bodin (1649 – 1651)
  59. Robert Constantine (1651 – 1654)
  60. James Rigby (1655 – 1660)
  61. Then Richard Marsh returned as Vicar until 1662
  62. Vicar: William Broadhead (1662 – 1675)
  63. 1662 Book of Common Prayer published – still the official prayer book of the Church of England (Age of church: 542)
  64. 1666 Great Fire of London (Age of church: 546)
  65. Vicar: Joseph Ashburne (1675 – 1680)
  66. Vicar: Joshua Oldroyd (1680 – 1681)
  67. Vicar: Thomas Hepworth (1681 – 1701)
  68. Vicar: Luke Coates (1701 – 1717)
  69. 1707 United Kingdom of Great Britain formed — England, Wales, and Scotland joined by parliamentary Act of Union(Age of church: 587)
  70. Vicar: Thomas Coleby (1718 – 1768)
  71. 1761 A cutting from the Glastonbury Thorn planted in the churchyard (still alive) (Age of church: 641)
  72. 1764 Clock installed on the church tower (Age of church: 644)
  73. Vicar: John Marsden (1768 – 1774)
  74. Vicar: Henry Walkins (1774 – 1800)
  75. 1781 John Wesley preached in the church (Age of church: 661)
  76. 1789 French revolution (Age of church: 669)
  77. Vicar: William Margetson Heald (1801 – 1836)
  78. 1805 Battle of Trafalgar (Age of church: 685)
  79. 1833 Slavery abolished in the British Empire (Age of church: 713)
  80. Vicar: William Margetson Heald Jnr (1836 – 1875)
  81. 1848 Charlotte Bronte writes Shelley (Birstall Church appears as ‘Briarfields’) (Age of church: 728)
  82. 1865 Dilapidated church razed leaving Norman tower (Age of church: 745)
  83. 1870 Present church built and consecrated by Bishop of Ripon (Age of church: 750)
  84. Vicar: John Kemp (1875 – 1895)
  85. 1879 Electric light invented (Age of church: 759)
  86. 1890 Eiffel Tower erected in Paris (Age of church: 770)
  87. 1893 New clock installed by Potts and Son of Leeds (Age of church: 773)
  88. Vicar: William Romaine Hervey (1895 – 1909)
  89. 1901 Frampton mural added over the main arch (Age of church: 781)
  90. 1901 Queen Victoria dies (Age of church: 781)
  91. 1903 Wright brothers take to the skies (Age of church: 783)
  92. Vicar: Henry Cowper Cradock (1909 – 1915)
  93. 1910 Rood screen added to separate quire from nave (Age of church: 790)
  94. 1914 First World War starts (Age of church: 794)
  95. Vicar: Henry Tavener Robinson (1915 – 1949)
  96. 1918 First World War ends (Age of church: 799)
  97. 1919 Eight bells recast and rehung in memory of Lieutenant Edward Brook Longbottom (Age of church: 799)
  98. 1939 Second World War starts (Age of church: 819)
  99. 1945 Second World War ends (Age of church: 825)
  100. Vicar: Frederick George de Jonquil Patterson (1949 – 1959)
  101. 1952 Elizabeth becomes queen (Age of church: 832)
  102. Vicar: Rudolph A Maddocks (1959 – 1970)
  103. 1969 First moon landing (Age of church: 849)
  104. Vicar: Lawrence Dalton (1971 – 1979)
  105. 1976 Concorde’s first commercial supersonic flight (Age of church: 856)
  106. 1978 Wrought iron porch gates installed after significant vandalism (Age of church: 858)
  107. Vicar: David Cook (1980 – 1983)
  108. Vicar: Kenneth John Davies (1983 – 1991)
  109. 1989 Berlin Wall torn down (Age of church: 869)
  110. 1989 Installation of Dais and Nave Altar (Age of church: 869)
  111. Vicar: Richard Morton Weller (1991 – 1996)
  112. 1991 World Wide Web launched (Age of church: 871)
  113. Vicar: Paul Jeremy Knight (1997 -)
  114. 1997 Rear of the church partitioned to create a kitchen and fellowship area (Age of church: 877)
  115. 2001 9/11 attack on New York and the Pentagon (Age of church: 881)
  116. 2016 Internationally televised vigil held on day of the murder of Jo Cox MP (Age of church: 896)
  117. 2020 900 year anniversary of the first stone church