Sutcliffe Sowden and the Bronte Trail.  


  Sutcliffe Sowden was a graduate of St Mary Magdalene College, Cambridge. He was one of eight sons of Samuel Sowden of Sutcliffe Wood, Shibden. In 1839 he became curate of Cross Stone under the Revd Joseph Fennel. His appointment to Hebden Bridge two years later seems to have been due to a sermon that he preached at Cross Stone.

When the Revd James Armytage Rhodes visited that church just after the departure from Hebden Bridge of the Revd P.C. Nicholson, Revd Rhodes was so impressed with the sermon that he prevailed upon the patron, the vicar of Halifax, to appoint Mr Sowden to the vacant charge. When he heard what had occurred, Mr Sowden was so troubled in mind that he went to see Revd Rhodes and explained that the sermon was not original. "Well", said Revd Rhodes, "We will give you credit for making a good selection and let the matter rest there".


Revd Sutcliffe Sowden was the intimate friend to the Revd Arthur Bell Nicholls, who  was ordained along with Sutcliffes younger brother George at Ripon Minster in October 1846. A.B. Nicholls became curate of Haworth in 1845. Out of this friendship came Revd Sowdens aquaintance with the Bronte family, whom he had seen but not met when he was at Cross Stone.


When the Revd A.B. Nicholls and Miss Charlotte Bronte were married in Haworth Church on 29th June 1854, the ceremony was officiated by their mutual friend The Revd Sutcliffe Sowden of St James Mytholm

Revd Sutcliffe Sowden also presided at the funeral of Charotte Bronte within a year of the marriage in April 1855.

 Some six years later in the spring of 1861 he again travelled to Haworth to conduct the funeral of her father, the Revd Patrick Bronte. Sutcliffe Sowden himself was eventually buried here in the church yard of St James in the autumn of 1861, following his mysterious death, by his close friend Revd A.B. Nicholls. 

 In letters  A. B. Nicholls refers to Sutcliffe as being more family than a friend    





Font dedicated in Memory of Revd Sutcliffe Sowden

For an account of Revd S. Sowdens death as reported in the

Halifax Guardian 9th Aug 1861 go to our history page. (Click here) 

Recently unearthed items include Sutcliffe Sowdens Leather bound bible, some Currer Bell Novels and some silver relating

to the Revd James Amytage Rhodes  along with a vast photographic record of every incumbant..

A  'St James and Bronte' exhibition is in planning

The Bronte Society and the Hebden Bridge Historical Society will be invited to participate.

Thanks also to Ann Dinsdale: Collections Manager, Bronte Parsonage Museum Haworth


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