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St Oswald, Thornton-in-Lonsdale, Yorkshire, West Riding

(54°9′26″N, 2°28′56″W)
SD 686 736
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now North Yorkshire
medieval St Oswald
now St Oswald
  • Rita Wood
29 Apr 2010

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Thornton-in-Lonsdale is a small settlement on the south side of the limestone hills of Craven. It is about three-quarters of a mile W of Ingleton and six miles SE of Kirkby Lonsdale. The church has an aisled nave, chancel and Perpendicular W tower. The church was rebuilt in 1869-90, apart from the tower and the round-headed arches of the N arcade. In 1933 after a fire it was again rebuilt. The three-bay N arcade had not survived but was to some extent reproduced (Pevsner 1967, 513; Leach and Pevsner 2009, 501-2). A fragment of at least one grave-slab of probable 12thc date has also been recorded.


In Domesday Book, under land of the king, Orm holds 6 carucates for geld in Thornton and in Burrow [co. Lanc.] (VCH Yorkshire II, 208).


Interior Features



Loose Sculpture


N arcade:

While restoration of the medieval building was in progress in 1869-70, A. W. Franks wrote that 'two Norman arches' were the only feature of interest and that they would be preserved. These were, unfortunately, lost in the fire of 1933. This is supported by Morris, visiting before the 1933 fire, who says that it retains 'a good Norm. N. arcade’.

The N arcade, rebuilt by the same firm of architects after the fire in 1933 as had been employed in the Victorian restoration, has clustered piers, with four corner columns on a vaguely cylindrical core: this suggests a late 12thc date for the original arcade, as in the crypt of York Minster, but it is not possible to tell if it is in any sense a reproduction of the original. The restoration looks reasonable in scale and style but the stones are not the medieval size. There are no faculty papers or plans in the Borthwick Institute, York.

The current arcade is the best, possibly the only, evidence we have of the 12thc one, and it is therefore included in this corpus.


Franks (1867-70) described three slabs recently discovered in the church, although, without the photograph he displayed, it cannot be said if they were all loose or not. One, the upper part of a cross-slab grave-cover, is the only one of the three illustrated by Franks; it has a sword and a knife beside the cross shaft. The second stone described by Franks had a cross 'with leaves springing from the stems’. The third was a fragment, probably the base of a cross with a circular ornament – perhaps a daisy.

Morris saw a fragment on the floor at the W end of the S aisle, a 'floriated cross with a fructed stem', partly incised and partly in relief. This may have been Franks’ stone 2.

Peter F. Ryder (Historical Building Consultant) visited the church in 2011 (pers. comm.). He saw stone 1, with sword and knife, and the stone Morris had seen, perhaps stone 2.

There is a flat worn slab near the nave doorway covered by a mat. It is unbroken, and so cannot be Franks’ stone 3. At first sight the slab appears to be possibly 12thc in date because its motifs could have been of our period: in the triangles at head and foot are a half-daisy or star; in each of the four trapeziums at the sides is a symmetrical foliage or tree pattern always set in the same direction, that is, with the roots of the tree to the S margin. In the central diamond was probably a four-fold pattern, but that is now too worn to distinguish. However, the straight mouldings dividing the slab are not familiar, and the slab is rectangular not shaped to narrow at the foot. Peter Ryder suggests it was one side of the monument to Lady Sarah Redmayne which is in the SW corner of the nave and dated 1677. This would account for the shape of the stone and for the trees being all set in the same direction and not symmetrical about the central line as they would have been on a grave-slab. The continued use of the motifs is impressive.


A. W. Franks, 'Three sepulchral slabs', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries London, 2nd series, 4, (1867-70) 214-15.

P. Leach and N. Pevsner, Yorkshire West Riding: Leeds, Bradford and the North, New Haven and London 2009, 738.

J. E. Morris, The West Riding of Yorkshire, London 1919, 501-2.

Victoria County History, Yorkshire, vol. II, London 1974, 208.