Pulpit restoration 2016

These photos illustrate the restoration of the pulpit (aka reading-desk), the accompanying chairs and some interesting details.

There is a photograph of them in The Heathen 1951 2(5) and the information that:

The furniture was made by H.P. Jackson of Coley, the son of the artist who carved the beautiful 1914–18 War Memorial and was purchased with the remainder of the fund which was contributed for that Memorial.


View of the interior of the pulpit before restoration showing dirty surfaces View of the interior of the pulpit after restoration showing polished surfaces
The interior of the pulpit before and after restoration
View of the exterior of the pulpit after restoration Detail of the front of the pulpit showing the date 1951
The restored pulpit and a detail of the front
A carving of a face whose eyes have their eyelids closed A carving of a face whose eyes are open A carving of a laughing face whose eyes are wide open
Three carved faces on the pulpit with their eyes, respectively, closed, open and laughing
One of three carved chairs with arms One of three carved chairs with arms One of three carved chairs with arms
Three carved wooden chairs which used to accompany the pulpit

With thanks to Jim Farrell.

P.G. Smith [1946–1951] writes:

One day in 1951, on arriving at school, I noticed that the stage in the Hall displayed the lectern and three chairs, all obviously bespoke not ‘Utility.’

Not being aware of the reason for such extravagance, I enquired and was informed that the three chairs were designed to be occupied, as to the most ornate one, by the Headmaster, and the other two by the Deputy Head and the prefect who was to read the day’s lesson in Assembly, and they were constructed from wood forming part of the original school building.

I enquired who was the unfortunate prefect shown on the rota for that day and was told that it was me. I must admit readily that, although I have not lost my memory with increasing age, often it is difficult to find it and I advise taking the statement in italics with a pinch of salt until corroborative evidence is uncovered.

I truly believe that the words were said and further that the said wood had been stored in the School’s cellar but I have no recollection who said all this nor any opinion how authentic the information was. My guess is that it is true and. if so, the furniture assumes great importance which should not be forgotten.

Mike Warrington [1967–1974] writes:

I was interested to see the pictures of the restored pulpit and chairs on the Heath Old Boys website. When I saw the close up of the date carved on the front (1951), it set me wondering as to who had made them. The date is shortly after Harry Lee’s arrival at the school (1949), and I am curious as to whether these were the result of some lunchtime activity of his. He was certainly skillful enough to have done the job.

Incidentally, the pulpit appears to have lost its lectern. After years of being abandoned, maybe this isn’t too surprising.

Jim Farrell [1977–1982] responds:

Firstly my apologies for the delay in responding.

I have restored the pulpit, honours boards and the two brass and oak plaques which commemorate scholarship donors to The School. The latter were in the library during my time at Heath. They were taken down in the ‘fallow’ period. However, we managed to keep and restore them. They are now fixed on the main corridor next to where the right hand hall entrance was situated, beneath the marble Scaithcliffe plaque. I also closely examined the chairs and the old lectern which were at CHS some years ago.

In regard to your memory about the source of the oak, this is indeed based in fact. The original lectern, a large black Tudor oak item had a brass plaque affixed underneath the bible — so never really seen. The plaque was engraved in a copperplate hand stating: ‘This lectern is made from roof timber from the original school building.’ This can be cross-referenced in Thomas Cox’s history of the school.1 The pulpit and chairs, however, are of a later date, around 1930–40. This is around the time of an upsurge in or affinity with history. The School’s Latin grace and motto are from around this time (see Puns, Prayers and Graces), not hundreds of years old as might be expected. The honours boards have (on one) a receipt for and date in the 1930s.

Since becoming chairman of HOBA (again!), one of our main aims has been to restore, protect and display artifacts from the school. We have an ongoing investigation into the history of the Charters, the School Seal (matrix) and any unfinished work in Cox’s history of the school. An offshoot of these acts is to create an inventory of School items and where they are.

This last point was initiated as I have to report a sad event. I returned to the school some time ago to review the lectern. To cut a long story short, it could not be traced! I have, along with John Bunch and other committee members, investigated this without success. This episode was the main driver for the above course of action.

In relation to the question of who made the pulpit and chairs? I can say that there is some documentation to a local craftsman at Norwood Green. I have worked on some fantastic items including the Houses of Parliament; the carving on the Pulpit is exquisite. There are only a few who could have done this; the intricate work and perspective are superb, if mostly wasted on the unknowing eye. This work and pieces would have been commissioned to show the status and kudos of a school in full sail!

In regard to the lectern part of the pulpit, this was not present when I was at Heath in 1977. I was going to make a replacement during restoration but we felt it should remain as it is, with a story of how it survived 30 years incarcerated but not without scars, even if these occurred in full view!! Perhaps a metaphor that neglect can happen right in front of us.

The committee has been very active recently. Present action includes:

  • the siting of the honours boards,
  • the possibility of a display for our growing collection of memorabilia,
  • erecting history boards at both schools and shortly in the cafe area of the adult education aspect at Heath (top corridor).

These along with ‘Famous Heathens’ plaques containing QR links to web pages of the individuals are examples of current Heathens’ activity in the community.

I shall be taking some further photos for the web and the new Facebook page.

The Bowls tournaments, Founder’s Day Celebration and annual dinner continue to be vibrant events.

I hope this answers some of the questions. Feel free to make contact if you have any further points, questions or memories.

1 Thomas Cox A popular history of the Grammar School of Queen Elizabeth, at Heath, near Halifax Halifax: F King 1879

Jim adds:

I have followed up with some further work. I now believe the pulpit, chairs, honours boards and the WWI memorial screen were most likely the work of Harry Percy Jackson of Coley. The family are fairly famous for high quality carved work in the area. Coley and Norwood Green are virtually the same as they are adjacent.