Solid state crystallization of hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) prepared by hot-wire CVD is studied in solid phase epitaxy mode. By using a novel optical method combined with cross-sectional TEM and SIMS, a reduction of epitaxial growth speed is observed with increase in a-Si:H film thickness. Namely, in films thinner that 0.5 micron, solid phase epitaxy velocity depends linearly on film thickness. As the film thickness increases beyond 1 micron, the average velocity of solid phase epitaxy decreases considerably with respect to that in thinner films. In this regime, its velocity becomes also time-dependent: initial slow propagation of crystallization front gets considerably accelerated after the front has traveled above 400nm. SIMS thickness profiles of hydrogen shows considerably more residual hydrogen in thicker films after the start of solid phase epitaxy. In addition, prolonged pre-dehydrogenation at lower temperatures results in the increase in the average epitaxy speed in thicker films. These phenomena are likely related to delayed hydrogen outdiffusion in thicker films, which also leads to time-dependent speed of the solid-phase epitaxy front. We conclude that excess residual hydrogen reduces the rate of solid-phase crystalline growth.