Darrington is a small village, 3 miles SE of Pontefract, now divided by the main A1 road. The large church stands prominently on its hill. Built of magnesian limestone and local red sandstone, it consists of a nave, chancel, W tower, S aisle, N aisle and a chapel. It was restored in 1880, but lower parts of the tower may be Norman (Pevsner 1967,175), and the tower arch retains some relevant work.
In 1086 the manor was held by Ilbert de Lacy, and a priest, a church and a mill are mentioned in the Domesday Book (VCH II, 247). The appropriation of "St Luke" by Pontefract Priory was confirmed in 1286 (Borthwick: Reg. Romayne).
If this doorway was built at the same time as the aisle, dated by both Pevsner and Ryder to the early 13thc., it was old-fashioned. Alternatively it may have been moved, a possibility given the mixed nature of the surrounding masonry. The doorway has one order, plain and chamfered.
|h. (within recess)||2.17 m|
|w. of opening||0.86 m|
Ryder (1993, 30) says this double belfry window 'may be a Norman copy of the Anglo-Saxon paired openings seen at churches like Bardsey'. However, the restoration, with a central column and capital, seems quite wrong. The masonry of the tower is mixed, as is that of the W wall.
The tower is flanked by the aisles, and there are arches on the N, S and E sides. On the N side, a modest plain round-headed arch now leads into the vestry, which is part of the N aisle. On the S side, the arch is pointed and of two chamfered orders. The doorway and window in the W wall are of a later date.
The E arch, leading into the nave, is tall and round-headed, with heavy, squat and widely-splayed scallop capitals. As Ryder says, much is restoration, but the basic form of the sculpture may have been preserved. The two half columns on wide pilasters have simple bases, with a softly moulded sloping form that recallis Brayton and other related works. The square imposts are also plain, decorated only with a hollow chamfered angle and, above that, a quirk. Both double capitals have been restored in small sections. They have five shields to the front and two on each side, above plain ring neckings. The cones curve slightly without being full trumpets.
|imposts above paving||approx. 4.25 m|
|w. of opening to nave||1.84 m|
This irregular fragment is now set in the N wall of the chancel outside the altar rail. It came from a garden wall at Cridling Park, see Holmes 1891, with illustration. The cross is unusual in that it has two horizontal beams, all of which have parallel sides and end in trapezoidal blocks, like some altar crosses. The six roundels, especially that at the top R, just retain four-fold petals folded over a central hollow, 'ball-flower', a Transitional or rather Gothic form. These are suggested in the engraving in Holmes, and one at least is affirmed in his text; they could still be detected on site. See Comments.
|max. h.||0.44 m|
|max. w. at bottom||0.27 m|
|max. w. at top||0.33 m|
The loose stone with 'man on horseback' (Pevsner, p. 175-6) has been removed to Pontefract Museum.
R. Holmes, “The boundary crosses of Pontefract”. Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 13 (1895), 559-61.
N. Pevsner, Yorkshire: West Riding. The Buildings of England, Harmondsworth, 1959; 2nd. ed. revised by E. Radcliffe. 1967.
P. F. Ryder, Medieval Churches of West Yorkshire.West Yorkshire Archaeology Service, Wakefield, 1993.