St Wilfrid, Calverley, Yorkshire, West Riding

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Feature Sets (3)


Calverley lies midway between Bradford and Leeds and overlooks the River Aire. Built in local gritstone, the large church of St Wilfrid appears to be mostly late medieval, and was restored 1869-70. It has a chancel with a N vestry and chapel, an aisled nave with a porch, and a W tower. One blocked window in the S wall of the nave shows that there was an earlier aisleless church, although the window head is undateable. Sculpture appears only on numerous grave-slabs found during the 19thc. building works (Ryder 1991; 1993).


There is no mention of a church at Calverley in the Domesday Book. In 1166 some estate is held from de Lacy.


Exterior Features


Window in S wall of nave

The upper part of the inner face of a blocked window can be seen in the S wall of the aisleless church from the nave in the S arcade, bay 2, W side. The curve of the opening shows part of the splay. The facings are plain with some tooling, and the surrounding wall fabric has been much retooled. 

The exterior head of this window can be seen from the S aisle. It is a roughly rectangular stone containing the round, chamfered tip of the slit opening (Ryder 1993,145). 

Exterior Decoration


Two reset fragments below guttering of N aisle.

Both fragmentary slabs have an equal-armed cross on the upper part. One cross is plain and in a ring; the other cross is decorated with centripetal Vs and has a small dome in each quadrant. (See Ryder 1991, 17, nos. 2, 3). The slab with the plain cross is thought to be 11thc. or 12thc. (Ryder no. 2); the slab with the cross and domes in the quadrants is probably early to mid-12thc. (Ryder no. 3).

The dimensions of the slabs have been converted from measurements in inches given in the church's leaflet.

The slab with domes between the arms 0.355 x 0.508m
The slab with the plain cross 0.305m x 0.46m

Loose Sculpture

Fragments of grave slabs found during the 19th-century restoration

Most of the pieces of carved stone found during the 19thc. rebuilding and associated excavations were not visible during our visit in 1998, as they were normally kept in the tower or were concealed under the scenery of the Easter garden. They featured in a leaflet then available in the church, with illustrations from an untraced source, and in Stapleton (1913, illus. opposite p. 74). 

Ryder (1991, 17-18) describes and illustrates to scale those of the found pieces which could have been part of grave slabs; the majority would be relevant to this Corpus. In 2015, four full-length grave-slabs and two fragmentary ones were fixed with metal brackets to the W wall of the tower. They seem to be Ryder nos. 5 to 10; no. 4 was not seen.

For reset pieces outside (Ryder nos. 2, 3), see III.3.


Peter Ryder, 1993, 145, says: 'The nave walls are of 11th or early 12th-century date, but only one architectural feature has survived from that period: a blocked window above the south arcade which has its external, round-arched head cut from a single block of stone. It is impossible to say whether the window is pre-Conquest or later.'



  • T. Garnett, A Short History of St. Wilfrid's Church Calverley, Leeds, Leeds, 1977.

  • G. Lawton, Collectio rerum ecclesiasticarum de dioecesi 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.

  • P. Leach and N. Pevsner, Yorkshire West Riding: Leeds, Bradford and the North, London, 2009. 

  • P. Ryder, Medieval Cross Slab Grave Covers in West Yorkshire, Wakefield, 1991.

  • P. F. Ryder, Medieval Churches of West Yorkshire, West Yorkshire Archaeology Service Wakefield, 1993.

  • H. Stapleton, Memorials of Calverley Parish Church, Leeds, 1913, 38-44.

The S side of the church.
The church on the A657
View E from the churchyard across Airedale.
View looking SE, with the carved beech tree angel


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SE 208 372 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, West Riding
now: West Yorkshire
medieval: York
formerly: Bradford
now: West Yorkshire and the Dales
now: St Wilfrid
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Rita Wood 
Visit Date
30 Mar 1998, 06 March 2015