Originally the church, known as Houghton Chapel, was a chapel-of-ease in the parish of Gisburn. Repairs at different times, have revealed features which suggests that the building may have originally been a barn.
A Parliamentary Survey of 1650 recommended that Houghton Chapel be made a Parish Church. It was 220 years before this came to pass in 1870 when Houghton Chapel became St. Bartholomew’s Church, Tosside. The building was neglected for many years after permission was refused in the 1700’s to turn it into a dissenter’s chapel. Repairs were carried out in 1843 by the then incumbent of Gisburn, Reverend Ambrose Dawson. This was followed by a thorough restoration in 1873 by the first vicar of Tosside, Reverend John Ellerbeck.
Electricity came to Tosside in 1955 and was installed in the church in 1956. Before this, the organ was handblown and the lighting was firstly paraffin lamps and then bottled gas.
The font is made of local stone and must at some point have been exposed to the elements as part of the inscription is worn away. The remainder reads……
“(K)NOW THAT ALL CHILDREN BAPTISED HEARE GOD GAME THEM GOOD LIVESTO LEAD THE ETERNAL GOD TO FEARE 1619RT”
The pulpit was provided in 1873 by Rev. John Ellerbeck. As shown by the date and initials1701, G.H.,S.R.,R.D it came from some other church.
This is a mortuary chapel in Gisburn Forest which was built from the stone of the old parish church of Dalehead. Those buried in Dalehead churchyard were removed to the present site when Stocks reservoir was built in the 1930’s. It is about 3 miles from Tosside itself.
Services are still held here for people who have their roots in Dalehead and also passing visitors.
It is a place of quiet reflection for any walkers or nature lovers who pass by. Information about the history of the area can be found on noticeboards inside the church and the graveyard is a designated Biological Heritage Site, having an abundance of over 130 plant species, some of them rare.
Mount Zion Chapel
The beginnings of the “Chapel” in Tosside go back to the late 1600’s. During the time of Oliver Cromwell the present Church was used ” … for religious worship after the manner of the Presbyterians or Independents”, but when the local people failed to get the Church registered as “a Chappell for Dissenters” under the Toleration Act of 1689, the house of Henry Robinson, Tosside was registered as such instead. The following year, the Presbyterian Fund ordered “…. that £20 per annum be allowed towards the propagation of the Gospel at Winterburne, Tosside, Starbottom and Burham-in-Craven”, and that Richard Frankland (of Frankland’s Academy, Rathmell) was to provide the Ministers. It is also recorded that similar grants were made fromI704-1708.
Subsequently, services were held in various houses and eventually a congregation was meeting regularly at Higher Sandysyke, the home of Miles Thornber. (Higher Sandysyke is about two-thirds of a mile into the forest, behind the present Chapel.) In 1812 it was recorded that between 200 and 300 people attended services there – whatever the weather or whether it was moonlight or dark – some of them having walked 2 or 3 miles.
It was in this year that it was decided that a Chapel should be built. “its dimensions are to be 11 yards by 14 yards; it is to be galleried on three sides; and the key is to be delivered on Easter Sunday 1813”. The opening was recorded in the Evangelical Magazine for 1813 and stated that it took place on April 20th 1813, four sermons were preached and a handsome collection was taken, including a £5 note!
In 1814, the first Pastor was appointed, the Rev’d Hugh Hart. There were crowded congregations for a while then doctrinal difficulties arose and he left. The difficulties continued for quite a time with no settled ministry. In 1819 the Rev’d. John Crossley came but it is said that he left because his salary of £49 per year was insufficient to keep him, his wife and his five children. However, in 1825 peace was restored and the Rev’d. David Calvert was Minister for the next 18 years. Following him came the Rev’d George Berry and it was during his time the school room behind the Chapel was built. Various Ministers followed, the last one being the Rev’d. Archibald Morrison, who left in 1875. Since then, there has been no resident Minister. Services have been taken by lay men and occasionally a Minister, and the Manse is now occupied by the caretaker.
Both Chapel and Sunday school flourished for quite some time but eventually, as the population of Tosside decreased the Sunday school was closed and weekly services ceased. Now there are just three Services a year, Whit Sunday, Harvest and a Carol Service at Christmas. Light refreshments are served after these services and, in addition to locals, a number of old Tossiders come back for a reunion.