36.9 – James, Hannah, Roland, George and Sarah Howorth, and Mary King

This massive monument, almost a quadruple plot, was one of if not the very first grave whose overgrowth was checked and peeled back. It turned out to be a very important one, as Hannah here was the reason Christ Church had such a beautiful and well-regarded peal of bells. The bells were bought by her in remembrance of her siblings and each was named for one. We couldn’t think of a better story to be posted as the 100th piece of FOCCT research added to our website.

These before and after photos from autumn 2022 are some of the best ones we’ve taken for demonstrating what we’ve been trying to tackle and what we’ve achieved so far.

The Howorth siblings have quite a tomb given that on first glance they came from, and were, inkeepers and publicans. Their parents James and Mally (Horsfall) Howorth ran the Royal George Inn for most of their lives, and James Jr. succeeded as licenseholder when his father and mother died within a year of each other, in 1845 and 1846. But they didn’t merely run it; James’s father John had actually built most of the buildings between what is now the roundabout and Royal Bridge where Water Street joins the main road in the late 1700s. They didn’t just run the pub; they owned the pub and the income from it and the shops around it created a great deal of wealth for the family.

After James Sr. and Mally died, John took on the Royal George’s license in order to run it with his family, and James moved over to the Golden Lion and took on the license there. Prior to this the family all lived together but the siblings had their individual occupations – Hannah, Mary and Sarah were dressmakers, John a clogger, James a tanner, and George a cabinet maker. Come 1851 and all the siblings bar John were working in the pub as assistants to James.

Hannah Howorth

The family were careful with their money, and when the Golden Lion’s owner passed away and the pub and buildings around sold to Peter Ratcliff (buried at V11.8) they took the opportunity to retire. Some had already left the business but all remained close, even those not sharing the lovely large premises at Vale House on Wellington Road, where they moved after the sale to Ratcliff went through in April 1884.

George Howorth

Mary, as mentioned, had married Edward King of Rose Bank in 1864. She was his second wife and he had already more or less raised his family, so they lived together on their own, probably quite comfortably as the King family were influential and established shoemakers and cloggers and were well-regarded in Quaker and Unitarian circles. The King’s shoe and leather shop was at Strand (aka the beginning section of Rochdale Road, two doors down from the Royal George in fact) and was still operating after Edward retired. He was 12 years older than her, and died in 1872, only eight years after they married and only two after his retirement. Mary moved back to 13 York Street afterwards with only a servant for company.

As each Howorth sibling passed, they were buried in the large family plot. George was first in 1885; then James and Mary in 1888; then Sarah in 1890. George had been very successful and left an estate worth £9733 when he died, worth over £1mil today. Following on with today’s currency values, James left another £1mil when he died, Mary left £212k and Sarah left a whopping £1.5mil behind! Of course all these amounts will have included overlapping previous bequest amounts from each most recently deceased sibling, but Hannah will still have ended up with a quite incredible sum of money after 1890. Deprived of her siblings and the beneficiary of much of their respective wealth, Hannah will have begun to wonder how best to remember them. Her solution was this tomb and the bells.

More information about the bells can be found on the Todmorden and Walsden Rootsweb page on Christ Church. Below is the menu card from the dinner mentioned on that page given to celebrate the bells’ delivery and installation in 1897, courtesy of the Todmorden Antiquarian Society.

Hannah will have enjoyed the sound of those bells every single Sunday, and other days perhaps too, for the two years between their installation and her death in 1899. Living by then at Brocklyn House, on Byrom Street, she was only just over the road so would have been able to hear them very well.

Sarah Howorth

Hannah’s obituary in the Todmorden Advertiser on July 21st 1899 pays credit to the entire family:

“DEATH OF MISS HOWORTH. It was with a degree of surprise that the announcement of the death of Miss Howorth, of Brooklyn House, Todmorden, was received by many in Todmorden, on Saturday evening last. She was the last surviving daughter of the late Mr. James Howorth, landlord at the Royal George Inn, Church-street, and owner of the same, where she and the other members of the family were born. On the death of her father, her eldest brother (Mr. John Howorth) succeeded him as landlord at the Royal George lnn, the remainder of the sons and daughters- two sons and three daughters- removing to the Golden Lion Inn, as successors to Mr. Edmund Blomley, which inn they conducted for many years, with acknowledged credit, until leaving it to enter upon private lifeMiss Howorth bore her length of years remarkably well; and, up to within a short time of her death had the appearance of one having a term of possible years before her. But heart disease was present with her, and to that she succumbed, notwithstanding the best professional attention, on Saturday evening, as stated, at the age of 77 years. On Sunday morning the bells at the Parish Church were muffled when rung, in respect for the memory of the donor.

The last person into this grave was Roland Howorth, “great grandnephew of the above”. Roland was the grandson of John Howorth, the eldest son. While the others went to the Golden Lion, John stayed behind at the Royal George and became the landlord there. Buried at 37.6 with his son Charles, Roland’s father, and his wife and daughter-in-law, John remained close to his siblings even if not with them. His death occurred at the Royal George and 37.6 is just behind and over a few plots from them.

As for Roland, he died in 1925, also at the Royal George. Roland had played for the church’s cricket club as a young man and had also done well for himself, becoming a gentleman farmer and having a home at both Churchdown and Matlock in Gloucestershire. He still died young though, only 45, and left a widow and four children behind. He could have died younger, having served in WW1, but he was lucky enough to come home again afterwards.

Gloucester Citizen, 28th August 1925

There aren’t many graves here whose inhabitants could claim such a deep, intimate link with Christ Church. Even if their status was never that of church officials, their link to this place via the bells surely qualifies them as Christ Church royalty. If you haven’t followed that earlier link to the Todmorden and Walsden website, do it now. Do it now! There are some other excellent photos and pieces of information there, including one showing the size of the bells themselves.

Now who’s up for a raid on Towcester?

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