Special exhibition this weekend at a church restored by Lancaster-based architects Paley and Austen

A church restored by acclaimed Lancaster-based architects, Paley and Austen is hosting a special exhibition this weekend.

By Michelle Blade
Thursday, 17th June 2021, 3:45 pm
St Michael's Church, Kirkby Malham, which is hosting an exhibition as part of the Walter Morrison festival this summer.
St Michael's Church, Kirkby Malham, which is hosting an exhibition as part of the Walter Morrison festival this summer.

St Michael’s Church in Kirkby Malham is known as the Cathedral of the Dales and was restored by Paley and Austen between 1879-1881.

It is hosting an exhibition on June 19-20 between 12.30-3.30pm explaining how local philanthropist, Walter Morrison saved the church from potential ruin.

The exhibition is part of the Walter Morrison Festival marking a century since the death of the local MP, businessman, social reformer and philanthropist who lived at Malham Tarn House.

Walter Morrison's pew in Kirkby Malham Church from after the refurbishment, partially funded by Walter Morrison.

St Michael’s was Walter Morrison’s local church and in 1879, he paid for more than half of the urgently needed repairs which helped to preserve the original features of this Grade 1 listed church whose history could possibly be traced back to the 7th Century. He also paid for the renovation and extension of the vicarage. Morrison is buried in the churchyard under a simple headstone.Just recently, the church has seen more improvements thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, grants from the Headley Trust and North Craven Heritage Trust and the generosity of local people and visitors. This summer also sees Kirkby Malham welcome a new resident priest, the Rev Dr Sue McWhinney. “St Michael’s is delighted to host the Walter Morrison exhibition and to be open for visitors to our beautiful church,” said Rev McWhinney. “Walter Morrison made a considerable contribution towards the cost of restoring our 15th Century church, ensuring that its unique character was retained.

“We are thankful for his generous support and pleased to be part of the festival celebrating his life and achievements. “

The exhibition can also be viewed on July 3; August 14-15 and September 18-19.

This exhibition is among a series of five running until September 30. The others take place at Giggleswick School Chapel, Malham Chapel and Skipton Library.

Walter Morrison's unassuming grave in Kirkby Malham churchyard.

From October 8-December 23, all exhibitions come together at The Folly in Settle. For information on venue opening dates, visit: https://thefolly.org.uk/walter-morrison-festival/. The Festival, funded by Arts Council England, the Coulthurst Trust and the Craven Trust also includes talks, a schools programme and new walking route.

The Walter Morrison Festival has been organised by the Museum of North Craven Life at The Folly, Malhamdale Local History Group, Kirkby Malham Parish Church, Kirkby Malham Parish Hall, Craven Museum, Malham Chapel, Giggleswick School, North Yorkshire County Council Policy, Partnerships and Communities (Libraries and Record Office), and Kirkby Malham School. The Folly, built in 1679, is the Yorkshire Dales’ only Grade I listed historic house regularly open to the public. It is home to the Museum of North Craven Life, which tells fascinating tales of the people and landscape of the local area.The building, and the neighbouring Grade II Zion Chapel, are owned and run by the North Craven Building Preservation Trust, the volunteer-led registered charity dedicated to preserving the historical, agricultural and architectural heritage of the district and sharing information via its museum service.

Walter Morrison portrait painted as a thank you from Giggleswick School and still on display today. Image courtesy of Giggleswick School.