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All Saints, Wath upon Dearne, Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°30′10″N, 1°20′55″W)
Wath upon Dearne
SE 433 009
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now South Yorkshire
medieval York
now Sheffield
  • Barbara English
  • Rita Wood
18 August 2011

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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.


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).


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

String courses
Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches



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.


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.