Blue plaque unveiled for Calderdale's only Archbishop of Canterbury

A blue plaque marking the birthplace of a former Archbishop of Canterbury has been unveiled in Calderdale.

Sunday, 26th September 2021, 8:00 am
The blue plaque outside the Sowerby home of John Tillotson who is the only Archbishop of Canterbury to come from Calderdale

The plaque commemorates the birthplace of John Tillotson in 1630 at Old Haugh End Cottage, in Sowerby.

The son of a cloth-maker, Tillotson attended a grammar school, in Colne, before going to Cambridge University to study religion, graduating in 1654.

Mr Tillotson, who is the only Archbisop of Canterbury to ever come out of Calderdale, served as chaplain to King Charles II and as Clerk to the Closet for King William III.

He served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1691 to 1694.

Although he enjoyed close connections with two monarchs, Tillotson was related by marriage to Oliver Cromwell.

He married Cromwell’s niece Elizabeth French in 1664.

The blue plaque was funded by estate agents Stewart and Beverly Charnock-Bates and was unveiled by Craig Whittaker, the MP for Calder Valley and the Mayor of Calderdale, Councillor Chris Pillai.

The house itself was a prominent filming location in hit TV drama Gentleman Jack series 1, based on the life of Halifax diarist and heiress Anne Lister of Shibden Hall.

There is an oak room designed with religious influences in John Tillotson’s honour. This was used for filming.

The building was transformed it into a mini museum for Saturday and opened it, inviting residents to view, together with historians and culture people from the region.

This was followed by refreshments and cakes in the mansion next door, a house where Anne Lister loved to visit with her partner Ann Walker.

The mansion was also used as the home of William and Eliza Priestley in Gentleman Jack.