Head to Heights to mark 250th anniversary

A PREVIOUSLY unpublished poem by dialect writer Ammon Wrigley is included in a new book to celebrate a landmark anniversary for a Saddleworth church.

St Thomas’s – better known as Heights Chapel – celebrates its 250th birthday this year and next month the Grade II listed building will re-open to the public to mark the occasion.

Weather permitting, short tours of the graveyard will take place as well as several services on June 23 and June 24.

On Saturday, the church will open from 2-4pm followed by Even-song.

On Sunday, a 10.30am Eucharist will be led by the Bishop of Middleton, the Right Reverend, Mark Davies.

On both afternoons there will be displays by The Piecemakers and historical information boards.

Local authors Mary Rodgers and Geoffrey Dent have written

‘Heights Church and Friarmere – A Potted History 1768 to 2018, as part of the festivities.

The book, priced at £15, includes a history of Heights until the closure, St Hilda’s conversion to St Thomas’ church in the village centre, a history of Whit Friday and other notable events.

There are also pictures of all the stained-glass windows and the previously unpublished poem by Ammon Wrigley.


Both authors have a lifetime association with the parish and have collected contributions and recollections from a wide range of past and present inhabitants.

They will be present during the weekend for a discussion of the contents.

If anyone wishes to pre-order a copy contact Geoffrey on 01457 874027.

Heights Chapel closed in 1963 and was taken over in 1972 by the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT).

It re-opened for community events in the 1990s.

More recently, Heights has had a new lease of life as a film set and bed and breakfast accommodation venue through the CCT.

The 2016 film ‘A Monster Calls’ starring Liam Neeson and Sigourney Weaver was partly filmed at the church.
Weddings and funerals are also still occasionally held at Heights with special permission.

Friarmere PCC wish to thank the CCT for permission to hold the celebrations in the building.

• A grant of land was made on January 24, 1765 for the building of St Thomas’s but the church wasn’t opened until 1768 when the Bishop of Chester Edmund Keene led the first service.

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