Little did I think when as a child nearly fifty years ago I watched the clever Halton carpenter, Hanson, at his work building the new wooden bridge across the Hollow Gate hard by, that one day I should be called upon to be the humble means of building for a second time a bridge between Halton and Carlisle, that I should follow a Halton man and go to be Canon of a Cathedral in the North, that never can forget the debt it owes to an earlier Halton man, first as Canon and afterwards as Bishop. (p. 3)
In the year 1292, on St. George’s Day, which was as it were yesterday,—a day we lovers of English literature remember as the birthday and deathday of William Shakespeare, and the deathday of William Wordsworth,—there was elected a Bishop of Carlisle from among the Canons of the Priory there, one John de Halton or Halughton, John of the Hollow Town (as it was called), of whom tradition has it, he was a Lincolnshire man, and of whom it is presumable to believe that he sprang from this parish (p. 3)….
It is many years since by the death of John of the Hollow Town the link between the one-time Canon of Carlisle and this village was broken, but to-day the link is once again made good, and I am called as a Halton man and a Canon of the same Cathedral city, to speak with honour of the name of the Haltons of old time. (p. 4)
The deeply interesting and permanent record of the rectors of your ancient parish which is unveiled and dedicated to-day, and which we owe to the public spirit and indefatigable handicraft of a present day churchwarden, commences with the names of five men who may have been of the Carlisle Bishop’s family (p. 4)….
On the carven roll of honour will henceforth stand not only the rectors’ names for nearly 700 years and the wardens’ names for 325 years, but the clerks’ names for 202 years also. (p. 8)
The parish clerk is fading from our midst. All the more need to keep the names of these faithful servants bright in memory upon the walls of the Church they served. As a boy, more than fifty years ago, I knew one “Francis Haw” by name, who if ever amongst working men as saint was found, was such. A man of deep religious life and spiritual insight, I see his fine old face as I speak, bent in silent prayer before, as he would say, “he began to take the service,” and I hear still his fervent reverential voice leading the reading of the Psalms and saying the loud amens. He prayed night and morning for God’s Spirit to be poured upon this parish; he obtained a good report through faith, but received not the promise. (pp. 8-9)
(Sermon Preached in Halton Holgate Church by Canon Rawnsley on the Occasion of the Dedication of a Memorial in Halton Holgate Church to Former Rectors, Churchwardens, and Parish Clerks on April 24th, 1911)