The original site of the Cenotaph had a long and varied past in the heart of the old community in Pudsey. The Cenotaph is now sited within the consecrated grounds of the old Chapel of All Saints which had origins predating its rebuilding in 1793. Records suggest a Minister may have been active on this site during the 14th to 18th Centuries, and certainly predates the Reformation (Raynor). Pudsey had been part of the Calverley Parish, and as such townsfolk would have had to travel down to St. Wilfreds on a Sunday. For those not able to make this journey, a “Chapel of Ease” was erected on the junction of what was to become Chapeltown and Carlisle Road.
The first full time minister at the Chapel was Idle born, the Reverend Elkanah Wales. He was appointed in 1608 and was assisted by Church Wardens that roamed the town looking for people avoiding the Sermon (and kept order amongst the pews with long rods). He quickly gained a reputation as a fine orator and an excellent Puritan Minister, but his own people in Pudsey, ‘for the most part continued ignorant and untractable’, and heard him with indifference or scarcely at all. In 1616 Elkanah married a local lass named Anne Parker, they lived together until Anne passed away on May 16th 1660. She was laid to rest inside the Chapel under a tombstone dedicated to her (see photo below), this tombstone is now placed outside Pudsey St. Lawrence Parish Church doorway, being moved from its original position in 1921. Elkanah continued to labour in his preaching to deaf ears for 54 years, until the Great Ejection of 1662 (when 2000 priests were asked to leave the Church of England after a change in doctrine) parting him from his Chapel. After rejecting the change he preached privately and taught from house to house around Greentop until the Five Mile Act came into force (to keep ejected priests away from their old congregations). As Wales was finally forced to leave his beloved people it is reported that he said, ‘O Pudsey, Pudsey, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!’ He moved down into Leeds outside the new 5 mile exclusion zone, though he would still return to Pudsey in secret. He was one of the main founders of Congregational non-conformist worship in Pudsey. Aged 80 years old, Elkanah Wales passes away down in Leeds, his final wish was to be buried close to Anne in the Chapel.
A Parsonage was built in 1647 opposite to what is now Greenside School, this survived until the site was redeveloped in the 1920’s (stonework from the parsonage was used in outbuildings in Pudsey Park). Anne and Elkanah Wales were the only recorded burials in the Chapel itself until a consecrated graveyard was created in 1701 on 3 sides around the Chapel. Shortly afterwards the records start for official burials in the Chapel grounds, as funeral processions had become too dangerous on the roads down to
St. Wilfreds at Calverley.
After the building of the church of St. Lawrence in 1824 as the new Parish centre of Pudsey, the All Saints Chapel fell into disuse (Raynor). The characterful old Chapel was secretly demolished early one morning in 1879 by the Pudsey Board of Health (Pudsey & Stanningley News) causing local uproar. The graves in the old churchyard were relocated to the churchyard of St. Lawrence. Afterward the remaining graveyard was used as a rubbish tip until the newly formed Pudsey Borough Council enclosed it with a wall and created a new clean public space.
In October 1916, Pudsey Borough Council officer George H Noble made the first public suggestion that a new War Memorial should be built in the town, the perfect location being the site of the old Chapel of All Saints (Pudsey & Stanningley News). This was intended to honour the memory of the men of the Borough who were falling during the ongoing Great War. George would later see his idea completed and unveiled in 1922, after the Town had suffered a terrible price for its contributions in terms of lives.
The Cenotaph pedestal and base stand within the lines of the east end of the Chapel, and rest on foundations of brickwork and portland cement carried down to solid rock about 7 feet below the road. The steps which on the south side are just outside the lines of the old Chapel walls are supported on brick piers built out from the foundations of the main structure. A vault was formed in the foundation work (a qualifying requirement for a Cenotaph) and some human remains found in the operation were reverently placed therein and sealed up. A lead coffin coffin sealed in a brick vault was come across, but fortunately was in a position that it could be left in situ undisturbed (Pudsey & Stanningley News).