The church lies in Cantley, surrounded by modern houses, on a lane between Cantley and Branton, about a mile from the village of Old Cantley and Cantley Hall. It is in Church Lane, within a large wooded graveyard rising up from the surrounding roads. Its orientation is a long way north of east (Ryder 1982). The west tower is of white stone, the walls pebble-dashed except for door and window surrounds, the porch and the buttresses of the east end. Much of the church is EE or Dec. with a Perp. W tower. Restored by Giles Gilbert Scott in the 1850s. N. aisle, interior additions and splendid decorations by Sir Ninian Comper in late 19th century (Pevsner 1967, 156-7). The restorations are listed in Butler (2007). Earlier commentators remark on restorations (Hunter 1828, 81-5) or the need for them (Visitation Return 1877). For further comments on the site itself, see VII, History. The priest’s door is Romanesque.
It is suggested in the current church guide that the distance between the church and the older village may have been to place the foundation on an earlier heathen site. There is some evidence of second-century pottery in the area.
Domesday Book records that in Branton and Cantley there was a priest and a church (land of Geoffrey Alselin) (Williams et al. 1987-1992, f.326). Later history suggests that this church was at Cantley: Branton has no church now, and is a small place, whereas Cantley church road is mentioned as early as 1183-1200 (Farrer 1915, no.817). Thompson and Clay (1933, 63) think the church was definitely at Cantley. The advowson was held by various lay families, but by 1260s the advowson belonged to the prioress and convent of Wallingwells, Notts. (Thompson and Clay 1933, 64).
Entrance square-headed, with irregular-shaped lintel on plain flush jambs which have a narrow chamfer. Irregular coarse tooling can be seen on the chamfer in the lintel, but not on the jambs, though this may be due to differential weathering.
The lintel is up-curved over the opening; the soffit has fairly wide tooling running at right angles to the face of the wall, while the edge the soffit makes with the face of the lintel appears rather sharp to be original. The lintel is carved with a sunken field centred over the door opening. The semi-circular arched chamfer defining the upper edge of this area is not quite continuous with the narrow chamfer in the jambs. No sign of carved imagery on the face of the lintel.
|Max. h. of opening from step into upper curve of lintel||1.865m; height up jamb 1.79m|
|The lintel is (max.)||0.43m high and 0.97m wide|
|Thickness of lintel||0.185m|
|Thickness of wall at the jamb||0.94m|
|w. of opening||0.77m|
The Yorkshire Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874)., L. A. S. Butler, ed. Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 159. Woodbridge, 2007.
D. Carter, St Wilfrid's Church, Cantley., N.p., 2009.
The Yorkshire Domesday, A. Williams et al., eds, Alecto Historical Editions, 3 vols. London 1987-1992.
W. Farrer, Early Yorkshire Charters 2, Leeds 1915.
Joseph Hunter, South Yorkshire, Deanery of Doncaster 1, Nichols, London, 1828.
N. Pevsner, revised by E. Radcliffe, The Buildings of England, Yorkshire, The West Riding, Harmondsworth, 1967.
Fasti Parochiales , A. H. Thompson and C. T. Clay, eds, I part I (Deanery of Doncaster), Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 85 (1933).
J Raine, The Dedications of the Yorkshire Churches, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal , 2 (1873).
P. F. Ryder, Saxon Churches in South Yorkshire, South Yorkshire County Council Archaeology Monograph no.2. Sheffield, 1982.