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The list of Rectors updated to May 2008 and extra illustrations inserted

Notes on
The Parish Church
Rectory House
Village Cross
Maypole and


The following pages, primarily intended for the perusal of visitors to the Church and village, are little more than introductory. Those who desire fuller information are advised to read the History of Barwick-in-Elmet (1908), written by the late Rev. F. S. Colman, M.A., while he was Rector, and published by the Thoresby Society.To this work, one of the best parish histories that has appeared, the present writer is indebted.

Those who would become more familiar with ecclesiology should procure The Ground Plan of the English Parish Church and The Historical Growth of the English Parish Church. Both books, written by Professor Hamilton Thompson, contain many references to Yorkshire Churches.

Thanks are due to the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, for permission to reproduce their photograph of the interior of Barwick Church; and to the Thoresby Society, for the use of the other illustrations.

4th August, 1933.


The ancient British kingdom of Elmet was conquered by and added to the territory of Edwin, King of Northumbria (617-633). Edwin was baptized at York, in 627, and there is some reason to think that the district of Elmet, being Christian at the time of its conquest, never lost its faith. As Fuller says, "We see the light of the Word shined here, but we see not who kindled it."

The Venerable Bede refers to a "monastery of the most reverend abbat and priest Thridwulf, which is in Elmet Wood " (Eccl. Hist., ii, cap. xiv). Some have thought that this was at Barwick, and according to a local tradition the site was marked by yew trees at Potterton, which were felled a few years ago. But we cannot speak with any certainty.

Before the Norman Conquest, Barwick was held by Edwin, Earl of Mercia, as part of his lordship of Ledston: and its Church was one of three (mentioned in the Domesday Survey, 1086) within that lordship. After the Conquest, the Church passed with the rest of the property to Ilbert de Lascy, Lord of the Honour of Pontefract. In the fourteenth century, the Lascy estates became part of the Duchy of Lancaster, with which the patronage of the Rectory remained. The living never became a Vicarage. Ilbert de Lascy endowed the Chapel of St. Clement in the Castle of Pontefract with two-thirds of the tithe on his demesne land in Barwick; the other third he left with the rector. In the Taxatio Ecclesiastica of 1291, the Rectory of Barwick was returned at 30, and in addition there was a "portion" of 3 6s.8d., the two-thirds of the demesne tithe payable to the Chapel in Pontefract Castle. In the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535, the net value of the Rectory was 33 12s. 4d. There was formerly a Rectory Manor here, of which an interesting notice occurs in the Calendar of Close Rolls, 16 Edw. II, 1322, p. 593.

The Parish Church. Presumably there was a church here from very early times. The pre-Norman evidences are the two stones which some years ago were removed from the walls of the Church. They are parts of different monuments and the smaller one is the older. They are assigned by the late Professor Collingwood to the tenth and eleventh centuries and are fully discussed by him in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, vol. xxiii.

Pre-norman stones
The present Church of All Hallows (or All Saints), Barwick-in-Elmet, consists of a chancel, with a vestry on its north side; a nave of four bays, with aisles, clerestory, and south porch; and a western tower, with doorway. A priests' doorway in the south wall of the chancel has been blocked since 1856. Like so many early churches, that of Barwick was rebuilt during the twelfth century. At that period there would be an aisleless chancel, with a rectangular nave, without aisles, and possibly a western tower. Of this structure there are distinct survivals. The deep-splayed, round-headed window in the north wall of the chancel(as at Aberford and at Saxton) and the four angles of the Norman nave remain --- witness the large blocks of masonry at each end of the present nave (see plan). At the east end they bond in with the chancel walls, showing that the nave and chancel are contemporary, and there is some "herring-bone" masonry in the chancel walls.

The chancel measures 25 ft. 6 ins. X 17 ft. (almost identical with the chancel of Adel Church) and the nave 58 ft. x 23 ft. 6 ins. We may compare the Barwick chancel and nave with those at Kippax. It is possible that the Churches of Kippax and Barwick, having the same Saxon and Norman lordships, were built at the same time. The dimensions of the oldest parts of both are similar. At Kippax the plan remained unchanged: at Barwick the nave received the addition of aisles.

Click for larger image

Late in the thirteenth or early in the fourteenth century, the Norman chancel arch gave place to the present one, which is a drop-arch, of two chamfered orders, supported on corbels, resembling the one at Monk Fryston. A chapel seems to have been formed on the south side of the nave, of which the piscina niche (very similar to the one in the chancel at Whitkirk) remains. A chapel adjoins the nave of the otherwise unaisled Church of Saxton, but is not the full length of the nave. Such may at first have been the arrangement at Barwick, the chapel having subsequently been thrown into the aisle which was built later. Or there may have been thirteenth- or early fourteenth-century aisles on both sides, the full length of the nave. But the present piers and arcades appear to represent a work of the fifteenth century. They are, of course, very like the corresponding parts of Whitkirk Church. The north aisle is one foot narrower than the south aisle, which may point to independent widenings. The pier bases, as at Whitkirk, rest upon rectangular plinths, which are probably parts of the old twelfth-century walls, on the line of which they are placed.

The South Doorway, pointed, and having continuous shallow mouldings, seems to be of the date of the refashioning of the aisles.

The ornate Vestry Doorway in the north wall of the chancel is of the fifteenth century, and the base course on the east side of the vestry itself may be contemporary, although the superstructure is much later. The doorway is of the depressed ogee shape and has an ornamental hood mould supported on head corbels, with a kind of fleur-de-lis finial. Its hollow mould has the four-leaved flower, which also occurs on the capitals of the tower arch.

Windows. The east window of the south aisle has the only old (fifteenth century) tracery left in the Church. This tracery resembles that of the aisle windows at Whitkirk. All the rest have been renewed or altered. In 1452 John Chapman, late of Thirsk, Chaplain (buried at Barwick), left "for a window to be made in the Chancel, xls." The side windows of the aisles, though quite modern, are probably copied from an old square-headed window of three lights which remained until 1855, on the north side of the Church. A comparison may be made with a drawing by W. R. Robinson, done in 1849 (see Colman, op. cit.), and photographs (in the vestry) taken about 1855. Before 1856, Sir Gilbert Scott, in his report on the Church, said, "The majority of the aisle windows [have been] replaced by a barbarous kind of window peculiar to this neighbourhood. The Chancel side windows have been deprived of their mullions and wooden windows with outside shutters substituted. The East Window has miserable modern tracery/' It had four lights with straight mullions, each with a plain arch without cusping. This gave place to the present east window in 1856.

The Porch may be as late as the sixteenth century, and retains its stone benches. There is a shallow niche above the outer doorway.

The Clerestory was, perhaps, built in the fifteenth century.

The Tower, of two contemporary stages, divided by a string-course, is of the local fifteenth-century type - as at Thorner, Saxton, Whitkirk, etc., except that (as at South Kirkby) it is of two kinds of stone - Tadcaster stone in the lower part and the local sandstone above. There may have been a twelfth-century tower here, as at Kippax, with a re-use of its material. The west face of the tower contains two canopied niches - one (empty) above the window and the other at a lower level towards the north. The lower niche contains a statue of Sir Henry Vavasour, of Hasle-wood, bearing a block of stone. This resembles another Vavasour statue, on the west front of York Minster. Beneath is an inscription: "Pray for the soul of Henry Vavasour, anno domini 1455." He probably provided the stone for the tower. In 1452, John Chapman, Chaplain (already referred to), left " 5 marks to ye stypyll of the Church of Barwick/' Richard Burnham, Rector of Bar-wick, by his will, in 1457, left 20s. for the making of desks in the choir and 20s. for the building of the tower. The empty niche on the tower has, in Latin, the inscription, "Pray for the soul of Richard Burnham, who gave ten marks for the building of this tower." The inscription, now almost illegible, is quoted as given by Ralph Thoresby, in 1714, by which date the statue had "perished."

The tower has undergone little alteration, but the four pinnacles are new. The embattled parapet is projected upon corbel tables; but the corbels themselves are perforated and there is no open spacing between them, as appears at Whitkirk.

The tower contains three Bells. The oldest and largest, weighing 15 cwt., bears the date 1604 and an inscription. The other two bells were re-cast in 1844. The so-called "Pancake Bell" was rung here on Shrove Tuesday, until about 1926. A fuller updated account of the bells

Screens. Before 1856, there were "some remains of an ancient chancel screen ... completed by modern work. The eastern bay of the south aisle [was] enclosed by an ancient screen (though somewhat displaced) and the corresponding north aisle [was] enclosed by a modern screen, the successor (probably) of an old one."

Of these two enclosures, the South Chapel, known as " Our Lady's Quire," or " the Chantry quire," was long the burial place of the family of Ellis, of Kiddal in Barwick parish. Kiddal Hall, with its striking bay window, dated 1501, stood near the Tadcaster road about a mile and a half north of Barwick Church. It was unfortunately demolished in 1928, but the window is said to have been re-erected somewhere in Scotland. In 1303, the Chantry of Our Lady was founded by Alice de Lascy, daughter and heiress of Henry de Lascy, Earl of Lincoln. The chaplains thereof sometimes served also Chantries at Aberford and Saxton. At the time of the Chantries Survey of 1548, " Richard Ellys " (youngest son of William Ellis, of Kiddal) was chantry priest and assisted the rector, who was otherwise single-handed. There were then in the parish four hundred " houselynge people " (i.e., Communicants).

The North Chapel (eastern bay of the north aisle) was the burial place of the Gascoignes of Lasingcroft, Barnbow and Parlington. It is referred to as "St. Nicholas quire," in the will of Sir Thomas Gascoigne (d. 1509).

Some years ago, there was found buried in the foundations of certain old cottages near the churchyard, a little stone statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which may have formed part of a Calvary or Churchyard Cross. It is now placed on a bracket on the north interior wall of the Vestry.

All the Roofs were renewed in 1856 - those of the nave and chancel had been previously lower, with flat plaster ceilings under them.

Glass. No old glass survives. Thoresby found most of it defaced in 1702. In 1734 a quantity of old glass was sold and two new windows were made. Ancient heraldry in Barwick Church in 1584 is described in Joseph Foster's edition (1875) of Glover's Visitation of Yorkshire, 1584-5, p. 453. It is not noticed by Dodsworth. The modern heraldic east window of the north aisle, relating to the Gascoignes, was painted by the late Mrs. Gascoigne, who died in 1891.

Monuments. On the nave floor, near the chancel step, is a slab with marginal inscription commemorating John Grenefield, of Barnbow, who died in 1464. Against the north aisle wall is a slab in memory of John Gascoigne, of Lasing-croft, who died in 1445. These two are the only medieval monuments remaining in the Church.

Plate. The oldest piece of Church plate at Barwick is a cup, which appears to have been made at York, late in the seventeenth century, but it bears the date 1706 and the name George Plaxton, Rector. Mr. Plaxton was an intimate friend of Ralph Thoresby, of Leeds, who writes of him as the first rector of Barwick to be " resident there of many Ages; and as the Parochians are happy in his Preaching and Prayers on the Week Days, and Monthly Communion, to which ancient custom he has happily reduced them; so the Republic of Letters will be advanced by his design'd History " (Duc. Leod. 1714, p. 234). Mr. Plaxton's "History," referred to, has not come down to us.

The Pulpit is of the Georgian period. A note in the parish register informs us that in 1725, the Church was then " Pew'd, a Gallery erected and a new Pulpit made' When the pulpit was repaired, in 1839, a paper was found nailed underneath it. On one side was written, " Mr. Barnby is Rector of this Parish and gave ten guineas towards making of this Pulpitt which was finished on November the 16 day in ye year of one thousand seven hundred Twenty-six by William Bradley Joynier." The gallery and oak pewing were removed in 1856.

Above the tower arch are fixed a portion of wood panelling (? seventeenth century) and a Royal Arms. In 1825, the King's Arms were " on the Screen between the Chancel and the Church" The Parish Register commences in 1653, and there are earlier transcripts at York. The entries up to 1812, together with the Wills and Monumental Inscriptions of Barwick, have been edited by Mr. G. D Lumb, F.S.A., son of a native of the place, whose relatives are commemorated by a window in the north aisle, and to whom we owe the preservation of the Statue of Our Lady, already referred to. The memorial window relates to the Battle of Winwaedfield, which seems to have been fought on Winnmoor, within the parish of Barwick, 15 November, 655.

The Accounts of the Churchwardens, Overseers, Surveyors, and Constables date from 1734; Briefs from 1688.

This holy place is set apart for the worship of God, the ministry of His Truth and Grace, His Word and His Sacraments.

In the later middle ages the chief round of services consisted of Matins, Mass, and Evensong, which have come down to us, through the Reformation and successive revisions of the English Prayer Book, as Morning Prayer, Holy Communion, and Evening Prayer. Until the middle of the sixteenth century, there would also be certain lesser Hour Services and Chantry Masses.

In 1743, the Rector of Barwick (the Rev. William Harper), replying to Archbishop Herring's Visitation queries, stated that he was resident in the Parsonage House, had no residing Curate, performed the public service " twice every Lord's Day and once upon every Wednesday, Friday and Holiday throughout ye Year unless prevented by sickness "; catechised children in Church, " at ye time of Divine Evening Service every Sunday in Lent and thro' ye greatest part of ye Summer Season." Holy Communion was " duly administer'd in ye Church every year on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Day Whitsunday, & on every first Sunday in every Month ... we have about 30 or 40 monthly communicants & about 140 last Good Friday & Easter Day"

And this Church still bears its witness. Let us remember before God its founders and benefactors (known and unknown) and pray for those who minister or worship or visit here; for the strengthening of the faithful, for the conversion of the godless and for the extension of the Kingdom of Our Lord.


List of Rectors of Barwick-in-Elmet.

With links to biographies.

Note.- These rectors would be presented by the de Lascy family until the fourteenth century, when the patronage came to the Earls and Dukes of Lancaster. Years indicated between hyphens denote that the clergy named then held the rectory, the date of institution being unknown. For biographical and other notes on the rectors, see Mr. Colman's History.
7. WILLIAM DE AYKETON . 1308-. ? Died
8. RICHARD DE WALTON1349-1355. Died
9. THOMAS DE BIRCHET 1355-1368 Died
11. ROGER DE PYKERING . -1393 Resig. for Vicarage of Tadcaster
12. THOMAS DE POPILTON 1393-1402. Formerly Vicar of Tadcaster. Resig. for Rectory of Whitburn, Durham
13. WILLIAM MARNHULL 1402-1404. Resig.
14. WILLIAM CANON 1404-1420. Died
15. ROBERT BERD 1420-1421. Resig.
16. JOHN SCOTT 1421-1432. Resig.
17. RICHARD BURNHAM, B.D. 1432-1457. Died.
18. WILLIAM HAWKE, D.D. 1457-1472. Died.
19. JOHN BLAKWYN, M.A. 1472-1482. Resig.
20. JOHN BARNEY, M.A. 1482-1498. Died.
21. THOMAS HARRYS, LL.B. 1498-1499 Died.
22. LEONARD MIDILTON, M.A. 1499-1519. Died.
23. RICHARD PACE, M.A. 1519. Resig.
24. JOHN CLYFTON 1519-1527. Died.
25. THOMAS STANLEY, D.D.(Bishop) 1527-1568. Bp. of Sodor and Man, 1542. Died.
26. WILLIAM POWER, B.D. 1569-1594. Died.
27. TIMOTHY BRIGHT, M.D. 1594-1615. Died.
28. GEORGE PROCTER, M.A. 1618-1629. Resig. Died 1633.
29. JOHN SCOT, D.D. 1629-1644. Dean of York, 1625-1644. Died.
30. NATHANAEL JACKSON, M.A. -1660. Resig.
31. THOMAS DALTON, D.D. 1660-1672. Resig.
32. RICHARD BERESFORD, D.D. 1672-1695. Died.
33. JORDAN TANCRED, M.A.1695-1703. Died.
34. GEORGE PLAXTON, M.A.1703-1720. Died.
35. EDMUND BARNEBY, M.A. 1721-1730. Died.
36. HENRY PERKINS, M.A. 1731-1736. Resig.
37. HENRY FELTON, D.D. 1736-1740. Died.
38. WILLIAM HARPER, M.A. 1740-1749. Died.
39. JAMES EDGCUMBE, D.D. 1749-1750. Died.
40. JOHN SUMNER, D.D. 1750-1772. Rect. of Castleford, 1754 Died.
41. ROBERT DEANE, B.D. 1772-1799. Rect. Of Dastleford 1776-1784 Died
42. JAMES HODGSON, M.A. 1799-1810. Died.
43. WILLIAM LORT MANSEL,D.D. (Bishop) 1811-1820.Bp. of Bristol, 1808.Died.
44. WILLIAM HILEY BATHURST, M.A.1820-1852. Resig.
45- CHARLES AUGUSTUS HOPE, M.A. 1852-1898. Died.
47- REGINALD HENRY HARVEY, M.A. 1910-1933. Resig.
49. JAMES GRAY 1962-1959 Resig.
50. NORMAN BUTCHER 1959-1979 Resig.
51. GLYNN WILKINSON 1979-1985 Died
52. TERRY MUNRO 1985-1993Resig.
53. ROGER WILD 1993-2001 Resig.
54. BRUNEL JAMES2001-2008 Probably the last Rector.
53.ANDREW JOHN NICHOLSONJune 2009-Priest-in-charge combining the position with that of Priest-in-Charge in the parish of Thorner.

The Rectory House, situated to the south-west of the Church, is the work of three periods. In the east wing are some survivals of the fifteenth-century structure, which then probably constituted the whole of the rector's dwelling. Certain stones found among rubbish in 1705, and placed in the " Tyth Lath Wall," probably formed the lintel over the rectory doorway. They are inscribed (in Latin) " Master Richard Burnham caused this house to be built A.D. 1440. Jesu Mercy." But the fifteenth-century wing may have had an addition, to which the inscribed stones belonged and which was demolished at the beginning of the eighteenth century. At this time Ralph Thoresby records how John Tancred, "Rector, and Chaplain to his grace the Duke of Leeds, is now building here a stateley House for himself and Successors" (Due. Leod., 1714, p. 234). The latter is the present central portion, to which nineteenth-century additions have been made.

Village Cross. In the centre of the village are the old stone steps of a cross, of which no date is known. A new cross and base were erected on the ancient steps, as a War Memorial (names of heroes inscribed), in 1919.

The Village Maypole, standing near the cross, is not mentioned in any of the old records. By long-established custom it is taken down every third Easter and carried into Hall Tower field, close by. The inhabitants, assembled round the Cross, elect three " Pole Men," whose duty it is to collect funds, paint, and otherwise decorate the pole and arrange for its raising on the ensuing Whitsun Tuesday.

On the subject of the Earthworks the following note is by Mr. Sydney D. Kitson: - "The earthworks of Barwick-in-Elmet are situated on a tongue of limestone rock, which projects northward into marshy ground. This plateau was protected by nature on all sides except the south. The earthworks occupy an area of 15 acres. This area is divided into two parts by an ancient road called "the Boyle." The northern portion, 10 acres in extent, is called WendelHill, while the southern portion, of five acres, is known as Hall Tower Hill. Wendel Hill is crowned by the remains of a bank and ditch. The centre of the southern area is occupied by a moated mound, 40 feet in height above the ditch which surrounds it. Foundations of a stone wall have been found upon this mound. The southern side of this latter area is strongly fortified by artificial means. The origin of the northern part of these earthworks is thought to extend back to a very early period, and to form an explanation of the neighbouring Becca Banks and Woodhouse Moor Rein. The present contours of the southern area seem to be due to the existence of a motte and bailey castle of early Norman date. In the time of Stephen, Henry de Lascy received confirmation of the ' Castle of Berwick.'"

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