Ingleton is a large village between Settle and Kirkby Lonsdale, about 19 miles from Kendal. The church overlooks the river Doe just above its confluence with the Twiss; these two streams have many waterfalls which are a major attraction. The building consists of an aisled nave, chancel, and W tower. The only sculptural feature of our interest is a cylindrical font carved with figures arranged in an arcade.
In Domesday Book, 'Inglestune' and other towns belonged to Whittington (6 miles W, S of Kirkby Lonsdale). In 1066 its lord Earl Tosti had 6 carucates, while in 1086 the king held it; no church is mentioned here. There may have existed a connection of Whittington and its dependencies to the Augustinian priory of Cartmel (Cumbria) in the late 12thc, through a grant of Robert son of Gilmichael, lord of Whittington at the time of King John.
The font is a cylinder with sculpture filling an intersecting arcade of 14 bays, and is also enriched by a frieze at the top below the rim. The bottom of the font has a narrow band of plain stone as a border to the sculpture, and a rough broken edge is probably concealed in the cement sealing it to the 19thc base. The measurements and proportions of the cylinder are similar to those of other 12thc fonts. The style of the arcade is the usual one for the 12thc too, having round-headed arches and scallop capitals, but the figural sculpture in the bays and of the prominent heads round the rim is unusually accomplished.
Bay 1: there is a man with tongs and anvil, this is Joseph as a smith.
Bay 2: Mary is seated with the Child on her lap, and are both crowned.
Bays 3 to 5: the Three Kings approach from the R bringing their gifts.
Bays 6 and 7: they feature the front-facing figures of King Herod with a sword and a helmeted soldier with an axe. They are slaughtering the Innocents: there are five infants lying dead or being slain; one of them is about to be slain by Herod himself.
Bays 8 and 9: the pillar of the arcade is omitted, indicating that the 2 bays should be understood as a single scene. Bay 8 has a tall tree full of waving leaves; against its trunk to the L is an infant held upside down by the soldier, to the R of the trunk a child with bent knee closely follows a crowned rider in bay 9. The front feet of the horse are climbing up a ric-rac pattern, probably intended as clouds.
Bays 10 to 13: further to the R of the crowned rider, in bays 10 to 13 are a standing maiden with long wavy hair, a standing king with a foliated sceptre, a maiden carrying a bird, and a rider holding up a foliate sceptre. In bay 13, the horse faces to the L, closing this series of figures and also preventing confusion with the image in bay 14.
Bay 14: curly-haired David depicted as a shepherd-boy; he is forcing the jaws of a lion apart to save his lamb, which is not carved.
The rim has an alternating series of prominent heads and recessed patterns. There are six human heads and seven animal heads (not necessarily corresponding to the character in the bay below); one head is lost. The pattern units used are interlace crosses, radial stars and symmetrical foliage motifs.
The current church guide says the font was discovered in the belfry in the 18thc century by the Rev. Thomas Dunham Whitaker, the antiquarian. It was cleaned of plaster and whitewash and returned to use c.1830; a lithograph was published in 1844 by A. Foster. The font was mounted on the present base in 1858. It is said that the font had been rolled down the bank into the river by Puritans, but this may be an exaggeration: the sculpture is not in bad condition considering its age.
|Depth of interior of bowl||0.38m|
|External diameter of bowl||0.76m|
|Height of font (cylinder only)||0.6m|
|Internal diameter of bowl||0.525m|
St Mary the Virgin, Ingleton, guide, Welcome to St Mary’s church Ingleton, Low Bentham before 2003, 5.
P. Leach and N. Pevsner, Yorkshire West Riding: Leeds, Bradford and the North, Yale 2009, 350.
J. E. Morris, The West Riding of Yorkshire, London 1923, 282.
N. Pevsner, revised E. Radcliffe, Yorkshire: West Riding. The Buildings of England, Harmondsworth 1967, 280.
J. Raine, 'The Dedications of the Yorkshire Churches', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 2 (1873), 180-92.
Victoria County History, County of Lancaster, II, London 1908, 143-8.
Victoria County History: Yorkshire, II (General volume, including Domesday Book), London 1974, 209.