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St Andrew, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°31′1″N, 1°18′49″W)
SE 456 025
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now South Yorkshire
medieval York
now Sheffield
medieval St Andrew
now St Andrew
  • Barbara English
  • Rita Wood
14 April 2011

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Bolton-upon-Dearne is a village 7 miles E of Barnsley. The church of St Andrew the Apostle stands in the graveyard on a rise above the road. The tower and the chancel are of ashlar. The nave is rubble on the S side, much-restored. The plan of the nave is simple, with Saxon and Romanesque openings to the S wall and possibly to the N. The chancel is 14thc, the tower 15th/16thc and the N chancel chapel with vestry 19thc (Ryder (1982), 17-24, plan on p.18).


In Domesday Book there were two manors at Bolton. One, held by Roger de Bully, had a priest and church (Williams et al. (1987-1992) ff. 319v, 321v.) The rectory was divided; the advowson (patronage) of both parts was given to Monk Bretton in 1327 (at the latest), who kept it for the rest of the middle ages. The vicarage was ordained in 1347 and the prior and convent of Monk Bretton priory, who had the advowson, were responsible for building and repairing the chancel (Thompson and Clay (1933), 33-40).


Exterior Features


Interior Features



Interior Decoration


Hunter (1831), I, 386 may have seen a round-headed entrance on the south side, as he remarked ‘the circular arch over the principal entrance seems to belong to the original church.’ The window blocking this entrance, a simple Gothic one, possibly 19thc, could perhaps have been later than Hunter’s visit. Morris (1923), 115 says, ‘a poor, unrestored little church, the inside of which is smothered in abominable yellow-wash.’ Ryder (1982), 20 says the N arcade capital has ‘a crude attempt at a crocket on each angle’. Pevsner (1959/ 1967), 117, dates this arcade to c.1200; Ryder quotes his date, but Morris (1923), 115 describes the arcade as Perpendicular. It is indeed hard to place this arcade in a Romanesque context, even given some of the features of the capital on the N arcade at Brodsworth.

There are reset blocks in the upper chamber of the tower, see Ryder (1982), p. 20 and pl. IX (3). These stones are approximately 0.38m high (1ft 3 ins), and so higher than a normal course in early to mid 12thc work (0.21m), and even higher than normal courses later in the century (approximately 0.26m). Ryder considers them impossible to date, for they have few comparisons apart from the setbacks with relief decoration (some probably reused) at Brodsworth on the 13thc W tower and the pattern incised on the chancel arch imposts at Hooton Pagnell: he suggests the stones are perhaps 11thc. The pattern at Bolton-upon-Dearne is tall diamonds in relief; at Brodsworth, a trellis pattern in relief, there are also domes. Maltby has a tower with prominent roughly squared string-courses at setbacks (compare the inside of the tower at Conisbrough church, thought by Ryder to be 11thc in date). The tower at Old Edlington has a course with rounded projections, and this work is likely to be mid 12thc in date, coeval with the church itself. Towers in the East Riding (at Hotham, Etton and Everingham) have patterned string courses of 12thc origin, and trellis or diamond patterns frequently occur in string courses of the first half of the 12thc in that Riding. Nevertheless, the stones at Bolton-upon-Dearne are much taller than normal for Romanesque courses on towers.


J. Hunter, South Yorkshire, Deanery of Doncaster 1, London 1828, 386.

J. E. Morris, The West Riding of Yorkshire, London 1911, 2nd edn. 1923, 115.

P. F. Ryder, Saxon Churches in South Yorkshire, South Yorkshire County Council Archaeology Monograph no.2, Sheffield 1982, 20.

A. H. Thompson and C. T. Clay (eds), Fasti Parochiales, part I (Deanery of Doncaster), Wakefield 1933, 33-40.

A. Williams et al. (ed), The Yorkshire Domesday, 3 vols, London 1987-1992, ff. 319v, 321v.