Ackworth is a village situated about 2 miles S of Ponteftact in the Wakefield district of West Yorkshire. The church of St Cuthbert stands at the top of a rise at the junction between High and Low Ackworth. It has an exceptionally large churchyard, with many yew trees. The present structure is mostly C19th with a Perp. W tower and S porch. Pevsner (1967, 70), describes this as being ‘of 1855’, restored after a fire in 1852. The only Romanesque sculpture present is a font which may originally have been of C12th date, but has been re-tooled and re-shaped.
In Domesday Book, Ackworth had a church and a priest. By 1086 it was part of the Lacy fee. Hugh de Laval gave the church to Nostell priory around 1119-1129, a gift confirmed by Henry I. (Farrer 1916, nos.1428, 1431,1488).
At the base of the W tower is the bowl of a font, possibly of the C11th or C12th. It is carved from even-grained grey sandstone. Found in a garden where it had been used as a bird bath (Saywell et al., n.d., 2). It is rectangular in plan. The sides are approximately vertical and the lower corners roughly chamfered as if to fit an octagonal base or stem. The bowl now rests on an upturned quatrefoil base, which sits in turn on an octagonal base. There is no lead lining, but a drain and stopper are fitted in the bowl.
There are break marks on the rim in the centre of the longer sides. The rim is smooth and its angle has a narrow chamfer, clearest on the E and N faces. On the E and N sides, the upper parts are smooth with occasional random marks. On the W and S sides, the upper part has an incised line parallel to the top, apparently made by joining isolated punched holes. Most of this surface has been heavily re-tooled with a wide chisel, and indeed there are patches of different toolings throughout. The inside of the basin has a rough floor, and the sides show yet other toolmarks.
|depth of bowl||0.26m|
|dimensions of basin estimated||approx. 0.6m by 0.53m|
|h. of bowl||0.44 m|
|thickness of walls||approx. 0.11m|
|w. of rectangle E-W||0.7 to 0.75m|
|w. of rectangle N-S||0.825m|
E. Baines, History, Directory and Gazetteer of the County of York I: the West Riding (Leeds, 1822).
L. Goldman (ed.), The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography in 60 vols (Oxford, 2004).
W. Farrer, Early Yorkshire Charters III (Edinburgh, 1916).
J. E. Morris, The West Riding of Yorkshire (London, 1904), 2nd edn. (London, 1923).
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire: West Riding. (Harmondsworth, 1959), 2nd. ed., revised E. Radcliffe (1967).
J. Raine, 'The Dedications of the Yorkshire Churches', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 2 (1873), pp. 180-92.
P. F. Ryder, Medieval Churches of West Yorkshire (Wakefield, 1993).
J. L. Saywell, W. A. Green and M. W. Ackworth, A Short history of the Parish Church of S. Cuthbert, Ackworth and the chapel-of-ease All Saints (Featherstone, undated).