St Stephen's Church, Skipton

When Baldisaro settled in Skipton in the 1820's there was no Catholic Church so the local Catholics would walk the 5 miles to Broughton Hall (the home of the Tempest family) and celebrate mass in their private chapel.  As part of the campaign against Catholics, the Tempest family were forbidden from continuing to use Broughton parish church as their burial ground by an act of parliament passed in 1824 and therefore a new chapel would be needed.  The family were also interested in building a church for the people [Catholics] of the district.

Baldisaro Porri persuaded the Tempest family to build a church in Skipton.   He also managed to persuade them to dedicate the Church to St. Stephen because his family church in Appiano, Italy, was called St. Stephen - and luckily Stephen was a family name of the Tempest family.

Building began in 1836 with the laying of a foundation stone by Charles Tempest - with a trowel made by Baldisaro Porri.  The roof of the church is made of Broughton oak and most of the funds for the building were provided by the Tempest family.  The opening of the church was delayed for several years because of a dispute between Charles Tempest and the priest at Broughton, Father Michael Trappes over the ownership of the building.

The church was eventually opened on 15th September 1842 with High Mass celebrated by Fr. Thomas Peter Tempest, brother of Sir Charles.  The following Sunday Monica Porri (daughter of Baldisaro and Mary Porri) was the first child to be baptised in the church.  Mass was said on Sundays and Holydays by the chaplains from Broughton Hall.  The church was locked at all other times and the altar requisites [valuables] were kept at the house of Baldisaro.  Father Tempest became the first resident priest and lived over Baldisaro Porri's shop.

The church was enlarged after 1850 and was reopened in 1853 after a gallery and transepts were added.  A school and presbytery were also built.

Baldisaro Porri died in 1872 and was buried alongside his wife in the family plot, which is next to the Fattorini plot.  Baldisaro's son Charles and his wife Santina are also buried in the grave together with their children.  Baldisaro's daughter Mary Jane is buried in the Fattorini grave (she married Innocent Fattorini).   Also buried in the graveyard are members of the Arrigoni family - since Baldisaro's daughter Isabella married Innocent Arrigoni.





Inside the church is a shrine and picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (blessed by Pope Leo X111), which was erected in 1885 to the memory of Baldisaro Porri by his family and the cost shared by his son Charles Porri and Baldisaro's daughter Mary Jane Fattorini.

In 1889 the Stations of the Cross were erected to the memory of Charles Porri and in 1904 their children erected the Shrine of the Sacred Heart to Innocent and Mary Jane Fattorini. 


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