St. Wilfrid's, South Stainley

A bit about the building

The church building, like the village of South Stainley, has had its origins lost in time.  The original church was reputedly here in Saxon times, and may well have been rebuilt on the same tie on more than one occasion.  The church registers only go as far back as 1656 and the diocesan records at Chester (in which the parish of South Stainley was formerly situated) are singularly unhelpful!

We do, however, know beyond any shadow of a doubt that in 1845 the church was rebuilt in its present form.  There is reason to believe that its predecessors were slgithly larger and that materials from the older church were utilised in constructing the present building. The cost of rebuilding was only £800 and this, despite the change in the value of money, is a comparatively modest sum.

Relics of older churches on the same site are: 2 half pillar heads (12th century), a full carved pillar head now used as a sundial, and the original Norman font - large enough for total immersion - now outside the main door.  The church bells are pre-reformation and inscribed (in Latin) "Bell of the Holy Trinity" and "Hail Mary full of Grace".  The original chalice, now kept in Ripon Cathedral, is refashioned from the silver of the original at the time of the reformation to prevent its destruction.

The village in which the church served may well have been more than one hamlet and the site of South Stainley proper could have been at or near Stainley House.  Be that as it may, the parishioners were obviously then (as now) of an independent turn of mind, and in 1845, led by the priest The Revd. J.B. Wayte, the instructed a Mr. Oates (the son of a partner in Hansom & Oates architects of York noted for designing Christ Church, Harrogate, and St. Michael's, Markington, and inventing the Hansom cab) to build a new church.  They did not consult the diocese or obtain a faculty, and were eventually castigated by the Archdeacon and forced to obtain and pay for a retrospective faculty.

Finally we have one further link with the past and the existence of the church of St. Wilfrid in this village in that the original ancient altar stone now lies behind the present altar and the priest stands thereon whenever we celebrate communion here.

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