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7 - Church and Chapel
St Nicholas Church is a
fine stone building located in the centre of the village. Much of it dates from
the 15th Century, although the North Wall dates from 12th Century. The
octagonal font is believed to be Norman, and the east window contains a few
fragments of what is possibly medieval stained glass. The Tower contains three
bells, one of which is 15th Century. The church was extensively restored in
1840, and the slate roofs date from this time. A singing gallery over the West
end of the Nave was removed in 1932.
The Church Clock, which
has been cared for by the Hutchinson family for some 70 years, has been
maintained and overhauled for nearly a century by the Newey clockmaking family;
the most recent renovation in 1996.
Outside the church, some
of the stones in the Chancel wall have grooves worn, so it is usually claimed,
by archers sharpening their arrows during archery practice. Just above the
grooves, there is an old sundial. A 12th or 13th Century sculpture of St
Nicholas can be found above the arch of the main doorway.
The Church has some
excellent examples of wood furniture made by Robert Thompson of Kilburn, bearing
the mouse trademark. The tower screen was erected in 1935; the communion rails
are in memory of the Bullen family; and the side altar, the Pulpit and Choir
Stalls were dedicated in 1936. The coloured window on the north side of the
nave was given by the Denton family and the east window glass is in memory of
At the chancel step
there is a large blue granite flagstone which formerly possessed two brass
Shields of Arms under which is buried the body of Sir Christopher Croft of
Stillington Hall. Knighted by Charles I, he was Sheriff of York in 1618, and
Lord Mayor in 1629 and 1641.
Above the Chancel step
is the Royal Coat of Arms dated 1739 which was ordered by King George II to be
displayed in churches were parishioners were of 'doubtful allegiance'. Although
rare, other examples do exist. Another is to be found in St Bega's Church,
The pipe organ was made
and bought by public subscriptions and fund raising in 1926; an electric motor
blower installed in 1936 - the bellows previously being hand pumped. A sign of
changing technology, an electric organ was purchased with the help of a private
donation in 1994.
Methodism has also
played an important role in the village. The earliest document for the former
Primitive Chapel, built on the York Road corner, is 1819 transferring a building
12.5 yards long by 10.5 yards wide from George Walker, the builder, to the
Trustees. It was a brick building, with a tiled roof, a central door with two
large windows either side, and a low front boundary wall with iron railings. It
was furnished with pitch pine benches, and music was supplied by a harmonium.
By the 1920s there were
few worshippers and generally the Chapel was only attended by others for special
occasions. Its use as a Chapel declined, and in 1935 it became Chick Morse's
cycle repair shop. During the War years it was used as a collection point for
cardboard and scrap metal. It was eventually demolished in the early 1950s
(along with two cottages) as part of road junction improvements, and the bus
shelter was built soon after.
In 1844, a Wesleyan
Methodist Chapel was built between Wandell and Dene House in Main Street
(although there may have been an active Chapel before that - some old
directories say that the Wesleyan Chapel was established before the Primitive
one). It was a red brick building, with a grassed frontage and iron
railings. The main entrance opened onto a porch with stairs leading up to
a substantial gallery and an organ, worked by bellows. From the porch,
side doors opened into the Nave with three sets of pews, a pulpit at the front
and railings in front of the communion table. For Anniversaries, boards
were placed on the railings to form a stage. Extensive alterations between
1894 -1899 were paid for by members' subscriptions, public collection and some
We are told that
it was a lovely warm building compared to St Nicholas' Church; possessed some
beautiful wood furniture; and could seat in excess of 400 persons.
With support dwindling
and the huge costs of maintaining such a large building, the gallery was first
dismantled and then the Chapel Members took the brave decision to demolish the
building and convert the old School building into a new Chapel. The old Chapel
site was duly cleared in 1970 and the new Chapel officially opened in May 1972.