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St Wilfrid, Melling, Lancashire

(53°29′45″N, 2°55′4″W)
SD 392 003
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Lancashire
now Lancashire
  • James Cameron
08 May 2016

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Feature Sets

The church of Melling is most striking for its extremely high-floored chancel, ten steps up from the nave, caused by the slope of the land. The church is almost entirely late Perpendicular, except for the W windows of the nave aisle - a plain lancet on the N, a cusped trefoil on the south, and a reset Dec window in the vestry.

In 1823, Whitaker described a 'rich Norman doorway'. However the only evidence of Romanesque masonry on-site is a single voussoir of chevron built into the wall of the mid-19thc vestry.


The church was given to St Martin's Abbey, Sées, in 1094 by Count Roger of Poitou, but was afterwards resigned in exchange for Gressingham, a chapel of ease, which was transferred to the parish of Lancaster. In about 1220, the advowson was granted to the Abbot and convent of Croxton, Leicestershire. The rectory was valued at £40 in the 1298 Taxatio.


Loose Sculpture


It is tempting to assume that the chevron in the vestry is from the 'rich Norman doorway' described by Rev. Whitaker in 1823. However the disappearance of a whole doorway between then and the 1850s does seem rather unlikely. The VCH says the piece was found 'in 1858, on widening the splay of the west window of the north aisle' (which seems at odds with the Buildings of England's date of 1856 for the vestry). The Buildings of England says that Whitaker describes a N doorway, but that he is not so specific. The VCH does mention that that 12thc masonry could also be found around the very plain N doorway. It should perhaps be considered that the 1823 text was mistaken, perhaps mixing up with a description of Gressingham.

Other fragments are built into the vestry, including a 10thc slab, the lower part of a late 14thc or early 15thc crucified Christ, and late medieval headstops.

The chevron pattern is extremely similar to nearby Overton, although it is not possible to tell if the soffit is carved in a similar way.


C. Hartwell and N. Pevsner, Lancashire, The Buildings of England, New Haven and London, 2009, 451-52.

A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8, Victoria County History, London 1914, 186-191.

T. D. Whitaker, An history of Richmondshire, in the North riding of the county of York: together with those parts of the Everwicschire of Domesday which form the wapentakes of Lonsdale, Ewecross, and Westmoreland, London 1823, 247.