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All Saints, Wath upon Dearne, Yorkshire, West Riding

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Feature Sets (3)

Description

Wath parish church lies in a tree-filled churchyard, near the centre of the village, which itself was built around a ford of the River Dearne. It is next to a former manor house, said to be on the site of the medieval Fleming manor, a building that is now the Town Hall. The church has a long nave, with a W tower surmounted by a spire. The tower has lower rubble stages, with early openings to a belfry; the highest stage is Perpendicular.

History

The vill is in Domesday Book but no church is mentioned. The rectory, divided into three parts, in the patronage of the Fleming family (two parts) and the Thornhill family (one part), was consolidated c.1234 (Thompson and Clay 1943, 105-6). Holmes (1902, 497, 498) states that most of the churches built in this area c.1100 were endowed in moieties (Campsall, Wath, Tankersley, Penistone and Darfield). This could have been due to custom, or several owners sharing a manor. A manor normally came to one hand in the next 100 years, although this was not the case at Darfield. Some rights in Wath appear to have come to St Nicholas, Pontefract. In 1438 the advowson of this Pontefract hospital was given to Nostell Priory, who thereafter presented to Wath (Thompson and Clay 1943, 106-8).

Features

Exterior Features

Windows

Windows in west tower

All walls of the tower had a pair of belfry windows flush with the main wall, though three pairs are now blocked flush with the general wall surface. On the E face, the bottom of the windows coincides with the ridge of the former nave roof. The pair of windows on the W are only partially blocked, and a tapering, plain, capital and perhaps a relic of a shaft can be seen, also in line with the face of the wall. On the N and S faces of the tower, the window openings are largely concealed by clock faces; only the lower parts can be seen in the stonework. See Comments.

Exterior Decoration

String courses

String courses on tower

These run between the stages of the tower. They vary in profile and are worn: plain, with chamfer above, or plain and square.

Corbel tables, corbels

Corbels now seen inside church

There are five corbels remaining on the formerly exterior N wall of the chancel, now seen from the Lady Chapel. There are four men’s heads and, at the W end of the row, one animal. All are re-carved and/or worn; the sides and top of the corbels have been trimmed away.

Interior Features

Arches

Tower/Transept arches

Tower arch

This has bases, pillars and perhaps capitals of 12thc types, but the arch has a wide chamfer and is sharply pointed. The chamfered and pointed arch does not match the square impost. The plinth is square and chamfered, and then plain and square. The base has a flattish torus with a shallow step, and the upper torus half-round in profile. The responds are wide and heavy half round columns. The capitals are shallow in proportion, with a hollow chamfer and a slight keel on the diagonal at the corners; the upright is plain. The necking is plain and rounded. The impost has a slight hollow chamfer, the upright is relatively narrow with a quirk near the bottom. These are different profiles from the arcades.

Arcades

Chancel

Arcade between chancel and N chapel (Lady chapel)

Arcade of two bays in N wall of chancel, opening into Lady chapel. There is a square plinth, and a chamfered and plain plinth; bases have a double torus. The column of the central pier is round; there is a plain necking; capitals of the pier and the two responds are scallop types with two or three cones to each face and a tall plain upright above the shields. Between almost every cone is a dart which folds inwards; occasionally the relief is reversed and the dart projects, termed a wedge. Imposts have a slightly hollow chamfer, and an upright with a half-round moulding near the bottom, separated above and below by a quirk. The plan of the capitals is not square, but the corners are re-entrant (Pevsner calls these ‘cross-shaped abaci’). In the arch there are two orders plain and square. There is no label.

Nave

Nave N arcade

This is an arcade of three bays which is identical to the chancel N arcade except for the bases which have a different upper moulding. There is one large torus and above that, at the base of the pillar, not another convex torus but a vertical band. The capitals and imposts are identical to those in the chancel N arcade; as are the two plain and square orders used in the arches. The condition of the capitals is so good that the setting out lines and compass points of the scallops can be seen on most of them; it is interesting that the ‘semicircles’ of the scallops do not extend up to the line of their common diameter.

Comments/Opinions

Hunter (1831, 72) comments that the arches to N aisle and N chancel are cylindrical; church much repaired without reference to character; arches on S side pointed. Pevsner (1967, 537) says ‘Norman the W tower up to the blocked twin bell-openings, Norman the N arcade of three bays with circular piers, many-scalloped capitals and cross-shaped abaci. The arches have a single step. The tower arch seems a little later than the arcade and certainly later than the bell-openings. It has a double-chamfered pointed arch on semicircular responds with moulded capitals. Norman also the N chancel arcade of the same design as the N arcade.’ The tower arch is perhaps of two periods. Ryder (1982, 100) says N wall of nave and part of chancel are Anglo-Saxon or overlap, pierced by Norman arcades. Tower may be early 12thc. ‘Belfry openings (now blocked up) of an early form having twin round-headed lights without an enclosing arch, divided by a midwall shaft.’ In the one example where a capital and possibly a shaft could be seen (W face), these were not midwall, but at the outer face: perhaps Ryder assumed a midwall shaft existed behind the infill in the pair of windows on the E and N faces. As seen, this opening suits neither the Anglo-Saxon nor the Norman model for belfry windows, and is probably a rebuild.

Two stones with carving were seen in the plinth of W wall of nave (see site image 3).  These run S from the tower arch and are normally obscured by the last pew and a grating. They have a row of star-like carving. The stone is efflorescing so that the carving is no longer sharp. Although the photograph suggests ‘star-in-square’, on-site it did not give that impression, but resembled a series of foliage fans. The row is not entirely limited by the horizontal line, but continues below it after three repeats. The pattern is not thought to be twelfth-century; the hollows in the carving seemed too steeply shaped, and too deep overall, for a twelfth-century chip-carved pattern.

A small stone seen by Ryder ‘on the sill of the west window of the Lady Chapel’ is not mentioned in Coatsworth 2008 but ‘may be pre-Conquest work’ according to Ryder; pictures were taken of it for CASSS and sent to Betty Coatsworth.

Bibliography

  • R. Holmes, The Chartulary of St John of Pontefract 2. Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 30, Leeds 1902, 497, 498.

  • J. Hunter, South Yorkshire, Deanery of Doncaster, Nichols, London, 1828, I, 72.

  • G. Lawton, Collectio rerum ecclesiasticarum de diocesi Eboracensi; or, collections relative to churches and chapels within the Diocese of York. To which are added collections relative to churches and chapels within the diocese of Ripon., New edition, London, 1842, 239.

  • W. K. Martin, History of the Ancient Parish of Wath-upon-Dearne, Wath, 1920.(not seen, material derived from Hunter with additions, and quoted by Thompson and Clay 1943).

  • N. Pevsner, revised by E. Radcliffe, The Buildings of England, Yorkshire, The West Riding, Harmondsworth, 1967, 537.

  • P. F. Ryder, Saxon Churches in South Yorkshire, South Yorkshire County Council Archaeology Monograph no.2. Sheffield, 1982, 100.

  • A. H. Thompson and C. T. Clay, Fasti Parochiales II part II. Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 107, Leeds, 1943, 105-6.

Church from SE, close to site of former manor house.
The tower from N.
Patterned stone in plinth S of tower arch, detail.

Location

Site Location
Wath upon Dearne
National Grid Reference
SE 433 009 
Boundaries
now: South Yorkshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, West Riding
Diocese
now: Sheffield
medieval: York
Dedication
medieval: All Saints (Lawton 1842, 239)
now: All Saints
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Barbara English, Rita Wood 
Visit Date
18 August 2011