Celebrating Walter Morrison – The Man Who Answered a Church’s Prayers

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St Michaels Church, Kirkby Malham Walter Morrison Festival

A parish church known as the Cathedral of the Dales is celebrating the man who saved it from potential ruin.

St Michael’s Church in Kirkby Malham is hosting an exhibition as part of the Walter Morrison Festival marking a century since the death of the local MP, businessman, social reformer and philanthropist who lived at Malham Tarn House.

The exhibition can be viewed this weekend, June 19-20 between 12.30-3.30pm, and again on July 3; August 14-15 and September 18-19.

Walter Morrison's pew in Kirkby Malham Church from after the refurbishment, partially funded by Walter Morrison

“Renovation and extension”

St Michael’s was Walter Morrison’s local church. And in 1879, he paid for more than half of the urgently needed repairs which helped to preserve the original features of this Grade 1 listed church whose history could possibly be traced back to the 7th Century. He also paid for the renovation and extension of the vicarage.

The exhibition explains Morrison’s involvement with the church which was completely rebuilt in the 15th Century and whose restoration between  1879-1881 was carried out by acclaimed Lancaster-based architects, Paley and Austin. Morrison is also buried in the churchyard under a simple headstone.

Just recently, the church has seen more improvements thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. They’ve also had grants from the Headley Trust and North Craven Heritage Trust. Local people and visitors have supported generously too.

Walter Morrison's unassuming grave in Kirkby Malham churchyard

“Celebrating his life and achievements”

This summer also sees Kirkby Malham welcome a new resident priest, the Rev Dr Sue McWhinney.

“St Michael’s is delighted to host the Walter Morrison exhibition and to be open for visitors to our beautiful church,” said Rev McWhinney. “Walter Morrison made a considerable contribution towards the cost of restoring our 15th Century church, ensuring that its unique character was retained. We are thankful for his generous support and pleased to be part of the festival celebrating his life and achievements. “

On the same weekends as the church exhibition, Kirkby Malham Parish Hall is open from 11am-4pm. Then, visitors can discover Morrison’s passion for education and philanthropy. These exhibitions are among a series of five running until September 30. The others take place at Giggleswick School Chapel, Malham Chapel and Skipton Library.

From October 8-December 23, all exhibitions come together at The Folly in Settle.

For information on venue opening dates, visit thefolly.org.uk

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