Between Grange Moor and Dewsbury lies the church of Lower Whitley. Robert Cockroft explains its allure.
Just when we think we have the measure of a place, up pops something to confound our self-assurance. I have lived in this district for more than 40 years and imagined I had visited most of its churches.
But some weeks ago I found myself for the first time in St Mary and St Michael, Lower Whitley, a remarkable 19th century building in Norman style in an unspoiled setting.
The occasion was a recital by the Kirklees Borough Organist, Gordon Stewart, who also was clearly impressed.
If the architecture is a surprise and a delight - the impression being of a miniature Durham Cathedral - the furnishings are no less arresting. The screen, in particular, containes some fastidious workmanship.
For organists, there is an additional reward. On a gallery at the west end, speaking brightly into the nave is a two-manual Binns of 1909, original save for the substitution some years ago of a great fifteenth for a 2-ft flute.
Gordon's recital did not disappoint; nor did the instrument. The Overture from Handel's Occasional Oratorio demonstrated the clarity of the great chorus and the potency of the swell reed. Mozart's Fantasia for a Musical Clock K 608 emphasised the contrasting character of the flutes and the glassy edge of the strings.
Encouragingly, the instrument is in the caring hands of Peter Middleton, formerly of Brighouse.
This handsome little church is worth your attention.