Calderdale, Halifax, lightcliffe

A New Headstone for 19th Century, Ann Walker at St Matthews  

Thanks to the many generous international donations of fans of Ann Walker and Anne Lister of Shibden Hall, Ann Walker will have a new ledger stone at the old site of St Matthews Church. The Halifax borne ladies attracted worldwide interest following the televising of Sally Wainwright’s Gentleman Jack series. 

Following her death, Ann Walker was buried within the body of the church, in a vault with her two aunts, under the pulpit as was the custom of the time.  The church fell into disrepair and was demolished in the 1970s, leaving only the tower and church yard, the final resting place for over 11,000 people from Lightcliffe and the surrounding districts including Bailliffe Bridge, Hipperholme, Northowram, Southowram, Brighouse, Norwood Green and further away. 

For several years a dedicated group, led by the Chair of Lightcliffe Churchyard Ian Philp’s and  supported by New York based Pat Esgate, have requested permission to install a ledger stone for Ann Walker in St Matthews Churchyard. Whilst the church yard has been a closed churchyard for years, they were recently granted permission, thanks to the tireless work of Ian.  

The flat ledger stone will be made of local Yorkshire stone and be 44” wide and 36” from top to bottom. It will be 6” thick and be set at ground level. It will have the names of Ann and her aunts, Mary and Ann, carved in the same style as others buried nearby at the same period, such as Lydia Wilkinson who was at Cliffe Hill when Ann died. The lettering for the names will be approximately 2 1/ 2 “ high and slightly less for the dates. 

Donations to pay for the new ledger have poured in from all over the world, via communities known as ‘In Search of Ann Walker’ (ISAW) and ALBW (Anne Lister Birthday Week). Pat Esgate says ‘many people have found a heart-home in Halifax and Calderdale since the debut of Sally Wainwright’s Gentleman Jack. Their connection is strong, and deep, not only to Anne Lister, but as you can see, to Ann Walker. While I find them both fascinating, I hold a special place in my heart for Ann Walker. Such a courageous woman, leaving her home—in such a public way—to follow her heart, in a time when that was more than frowned upon’. 
 
Having exceed the original goal of the fundraising, all remaining funds will be donated to the Friends of St. Matthews Churchyard for maintenance of Lightcliffe Churchyard and many important Ann Walker related items. Donations can be made at www.lightcliffechurchyard.org.uk 

Image courtesy of Visit Calderdale

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