For a long time people have been searching for a link between the Brontes and Anne Lister... maybe St James Church can provide some possiblities...


The first vicar of St James Hebden Bridge, The Reverend Mr Sutcliffe Sowden, was a son of Samuel Sowden, a tenant farmer on Anne Lister's estate.  Samuel Sowden was made infamous in the TV series - he was the man eaten by pigs, but in fact this was artistic license oon the part of Sally Wainright. Samuel Sowden was a respectable  and well loved man and a good father to his children, as far as we can tell. Two of his sons (Sutcliffe and Thomas)  became clergymen and both served at St James Hebden Bridge.  One of the church windows is dedicated to Eliza Sowden. As the Reverend Sutcliffe Sowden was a friend of Arthur Bell Nicholls, and officiated at Charlotte and the Reverend Nicholl's wedding, there is an indirect connection at least, between the Bronte women and those who knew Anne Lister.

Samuel Sowden is buried in the graveyard of the old church at Lightcliffe, along with other members of the family, and alongside many of the chariacters that we 'met' in the TV adaptation of Anne Lister's diaries. Sutcliffe Sowden is buried in the graveyard here at St James and his dear friend Arthur Bell Nicholls officiated at his funeral.

As it seems that Charlotte came, on occasion to Hebden Bridge, perhaps her paths crossed with those of Anne Lister. We may never know of course but it is interesting to speculate. There is so much we don't know about the lives of these people who have left such a lasting legacy in the Calder Valley.