Bricks and Mortar

A Brief History of Our Church

Since I wrote about Holy Trinity Church a number of parishioner’s have asked me if I could

write once again about its history and some of the features of the building.

The church itself is believed to be the third on this site. Although the Domesday

Survey of 1086 makes no reference of a church in Rothwell, we believe that

in Saxon times there would be a church built of wattles staked and thatched.

This would be replaced by one of stone. Although little evidence remains,

we do have some stones in the North West corner to prove its existence.

The two larger stones, discovered in the south and west wall of the

church are of Saxon and Norman dating, the larger one indicating the latter

with the presence of the griffin of Ilbert De Lacy being clearly visible


The current church building dates from 1130AD but its actual date of consecration is unknown.

Its arcading is in the Gothic style and the architectural style is Middle Pointed Early English. The tower, which is at the extre me Western end of the building, is approximately 73 feet in height and is ascended by 94 steps.

Whilst the tower is dated to around 1480, Thomas Stainer in the late 19th century rebuilt the top section including the four pinnacles. At the same time the current clock was purchased from Messrs Potts of Leeds at the cost of £100. In 1906 the clock was repaired and reguilded at a cost of £13.

Pews first started to appear in churches at the time of puritans around 1650 and these were the larger high types and some would be the box pews which you can see to this day in some churches. These would remain in situ at Rothwell until 1858 when whose we now see replaced them.

These are carved of solid oak with finials carved with foliage, flowers and animals, etc. and were the work of Edmund Bates, a local woodcarver, who was assisted by Charles, the 19 year old son of the church clerk William Gibson. There are 126 of these in church including four with bells on to denote John Bell being the Vicar at the time of their installation. The pulpit (1862) and the reading desk (1867) are the work of the same man.

In 1826, when the reverend J Wardle was curate in charge, the old chancel of apse was taken down and a larger and more hansome one built but the ceiling was flat. The flat ceiling was taken down in 1849 and re-roofed in a pointed style. The woodwork was carried out by William Gibson,  joiner and clerk of the church. The fine chancel arch was put in at this time by Harry Stainer.

Up until the time of the reformation our church of course followed the Roman Catholic Faith and would have had chapels on the south side, and although the fabric has changed to leave very little evidence of this we still ahve two piscinas which were used to wash out communion vessels at the time.

One of these can be seen in St. Michael's Chapel and the other one is located at the back of the church's sound system.

In the beautifully created North West corner is the Faviell Monument, a marble sculpture erected by Mr. Faviell to the memory of his first wife. This monument cost £1000 at the time of its erection.

Mr. Flaviell was a railway contractor and a coal proprietor who executed the short line from Horbury to Wakefield. His wife, Bourn, was the daughter of Edmund Dobson of Rothwell , a steward for Messrs Charlesworth.

I first visited this church in 1953 but at the time I did not realise the interest it would hold for me in years to come.


Eric Wright



Other Historic Facts about our Church

A Vicarage was ordained in 1253.

From that time to the Reformation, the Vicars of Rothwell were presented to the Archbishop of York, for institution to the living, by the prior and convent of Nostell. Then the patronage passed to the Crown and to a succession of private

patrons. The Church, which was no doubt at first small and unpretentious, has undergone many enlargements.

Although early sculptured stones and other features survive, the main structure was, at various dates in the nineteenth century, so extensively altered and rebuilt that little evidence of ancient work remains.


Without adequate written or pictorial record, it is difficult to learn what the church was like or to trace its architectural evolution before the year 1826.


The South Doorway, with continuous mouldings, and its massive nail-studded door, are old, covered by a Porch which, though much weather worn, is probably of post-medieval erection.

The eight Bells in the tower, by Taylor, of Oxford, date from 1837- 8.

The Churchyard, with its picturesque trees, was extended northward and eastward in 1835, 1856, 1877 and 1896.

A southeast Lych Gate was erected in 1889.

A Hearse House stood near the northeast gate, but the parish hearse house & hearse do not now exist.

Beside the north wall of the tower is the box tomb of John Blenkinsop (d. 1831),  inventor of the rack railway and builder of the Middleton colliery line.


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