St. John the Evangelist, Bishop Thornton
A bit about the building
Built of stone with a single bell turret, a glazed porch welcomes people to the South door of St. John's. Erected in 1888, an engraved plaque on the outside of the east wall in Latin states tha the foundation stone was laid on 15th August 1888, by Miss Margaret Jowett of Thornton Grove.
On 14th January 1889 the Bishop of Ripon, the Reverend William Boyd Carpenter, attended the Service of Consecration. This event is commemorated in a brass plaque at the back of the church, together with a silver trowel especially engraved for the occasion.
It is not certain whether the stone and the church doors were rescued from the old building and re-used, but certainly the four small windows in the chancel were. More recently the stone seat in the porch was given by a family from Thornton Grove, whose two sons tragically died in a road accident in 1990 and are buried together in the churchyard.
The font is octagonal and of stone, witha simple carving at the front, completed with an oak lid. Used to baptise children and adults alike by the pouring on of water as a symbol of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit over their life to cleanse and heal their relationship with God. The tradition of placing it near the entrance dates back to medieval times when the font usually replaced a feature called a 'mat well', a shallow foot-well inside the entrance door - stepping down into the well and coming up into new life in the church. This space in older churches now tends to be occupied by a mat!
Medieval brass lecterns were often in the form of an eagle, with spread wings to support the Bible. St. John's is based on this design, and was given to the Church by the Reverend A. Edwards Beswick, a former Vicar - and from the inscription appears to have come for the Garrison Chapel, Western Heights, Dover.
The organ is a fine example built by James J. Binns of the Bramley Organ Works, Leeds. It is one of only 19 built between 1896 and 1930. It carries an inscription commemorating villagers who died in the First World War.
The east window contains an image of the older church of Bishop Thornton, of which now only the tower remains, and can be walked to following the track that starts alongside our car park. The other four stained glass windows are thought to date from 1831/32.
As with all traditional Christian places of worship in this country, the altar is situated at the east end of the church. This holy table is the focal point of the communion service, in which the sharing of consecrated bread and wine signifying the body and blood of Christ draws us together into communion with one another, and with God, as we remember the sacrifice he made in Jesus on the cross.