St Paul, Glasshoughton, Yorkshire, West Riding

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Feature Sets (2)


The church at Glasshoughton is a modern 1902 building in red brick. A medieval font from Castleford can be found in the plain interior, set in the N aisle near the E end. The font is recorded as coming from All Saints church at Castleford. The beginnings of the medieval church at Castleford are ancient, and its position related to the lines of the late 1stc. Roman fort, but nothing Romanesque now survives there. (Ryder 1993, 9, 145)


Glasshougton, sometimes Houghton Glass, does not appear in Lawton (1842), Butler (2007) or Pevsner (1967). In DB, the land was held by Ilbert de Lacy, who had 3 ploughs there. (VCH II, 247)  Now part of the Castleford team, it was an independent parish in 1923.

The font was seen at Castleford by Sir Stephen Glynne in 1862. He described it as having an early circular bowl and a square stem to which four shafts were attached, and a plinth. (Butler 2007, 139). Shortly after that visit, from 1866 to 1868, Castleford church entered a period of radical rebuilding and, when it was reconsecrated in 1868, the old font had been replaced by another, newly made in Leeds for £22 (Quinn, 1993, 31). 

It is not known when the font came to Glasshoughton, but probably in 1902 when the church was built, or in 1923 when it became an independent parish.






The font is in three sections, a bowl, stem and plinth, each of which may be of medieval origin. Surfaces are smooth and show no tooling, but the general form suggests that the bowl and stem, at least, could be 12thc. 

The stone used is slightly different in each section: the stem, or support of the bowl, is in a fine-grained light pink sandstone; whereas a moderately coarse sandstone, medium pink, slightly banded, and with occasional iron spots, was used for the bowl.

The plain and square plinth has been coated with a plaster or cement to even out damage.

The flat-topped stem has a square core with integral shafts of three-quarter section on the angles.

The squat rounded bowl has four rounded stubs that fit the columns. The top is smoothly rounded; the rim reworked, and a slight horizontal facet can be seen in some lights, which could have taken the wooden lid without a rebate; there is no mark of any fitting for a medieval locking device. The basin has been filled in modern times to make a shallow saucer for water. 

Although it seems that the font was in use at Castleford in 1862, or at least inside the church, before it was sent to Glasshoughton, it is said to have been outside and used as a bird bath. This would account for the shallow bowl, and the lack of a drainage hole. The draining pipe now on the N side of the font is no longer functional.

Diameter of interior of basin 0.575m
Exterior diameter approx. 0.63m
Height of lower section 0.64m
Height of upper section 0.395m
Overall height 1.035m
Side of plinth 0.63m


Ryder thinks the font is much re-tooled and possibly 12thc. (Ryder, 1993, 10)  

The four angles with integral columns recall the font at Reighton (YE), probably first half of 12thc. A font at Great Driffield (YE) has a central pillar and four smaller shafts with waterleaf capitals. The font in Lincoln cathedral also has this type of structure, as does the lead font at East Meon (Hants).

There is no distinct style in the four irregular stubs, and they have probably been reworked. (Fieldworker)

Because of the complex structure of the font, with four shafts around a central pillar, and stubs of capitals on the bowl, it seems to be originally Romanesque, but major reworking has been done, chiefly around the rim, which has no rebate for a lid or lead, and no sign of a hinge and hoop for a padlock. All historical accidents have been reduced to an acceptable smoothness, which may be dated to the 'bird bath' period.


  • L. A. S. Butler (ed.), The Yorkshire Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874). Y. A. Soc. Record series 159 (Woodbridge 2007).

  • 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).

  • N. Pevsner and E. Radcliffe, The Buildings of England:¬†Yorkshire: West Riding,¬†2nd edition (London, 1967).

  • J. M. V. Quinn, For all the Saints: a History of Castleford Parish Church. (n.p. 1993)

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


The church from Pontefract Road


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SE 436 249 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, West Riding
now: West Yorkshire
medieval: York
formerly: Wakefield
now: West Yorkshire and the Dales
now: St Paul
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Rita Wood 
Visit Date
20 June 2000, 18 Mar 2015