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BOLTON PERCY: The History of Bolton Percy Church

BOLTON PERCY:
The History of Bolton Percy Church

The church of
All Saints
Bolton Percy

We learn from Domesday, that Bolton was among the manors granted by the Conqueror to William de Percy; the Norman Baron, from whose noble lineage the parish has its second name.

In Bodetune, Ligulf, Turchil, Ernul, had eight caracutes of land to be taxed, where there may be four ploughs. Rogelin now has of William himself, two ploughs there, and six Villains with two ploughs, and twenty acres of meadow. There is a Priest and a Church. A wood half a mile long, and half broad. The whole one mile long, and half broad. Value in King Edward's time forty shillings, now thirty shillings."

The piety and munificence of one of the Percy's made a noble application of the wood here mentioned: for when the Nave of York Minster was commenced in 1291, by John le Romain, Archbishop of York, Robert Percy gave the timber for the roof, from his wood at Bolton, while Robert de Vavasour granted the free use of his quarries at Tadcaster, for the building and future repairs of the Cathedral. The memory of these gifts is perpetuated by figures in the buttresses of the West facade of the Minster.

* Bolton Percy is in the Ainstey, or County of the City of York, about four miles North East of Tadcaster, and by the Railway, within an hour of Leeds, and half an hour of York.

The Manor of Bolton Percy passed into the hands of the Beaumonts, early in the reign of Edward III., in the eleventh year of which reign, the then Lord Beaumont obtained a charter of free warren in all his demesne lands there. The Beaumonts had a Manor-house near the Church.

In the Non Rolls occurs a notice of the Parish of Bolton Percy, which affords curious information as to the condition of the place, and the strict inquisition which was then made by assessors of taxes.

In the 14 Edw. III., a grant and subsidy was made of Ninths and Fifteenths, &c. &c. A Commission was issued and directed to the Assessors and Venditors on the 26 Jan., 15 Edw. III., whereby they were instructed to levy the Ninth of Corn, Wool, and Lambs in every parish, according to the value at which Churches were taxed, (this means Pope Nicholas' Valor and Taxation, &c.) and were directed to take inquisitions upon the oath of the parishioners in every parish.

The Prior of Saint Oswald and Franciscus de Barneby were the two Assessors.

Cuj' pochi vz Thm. de Staynford, Thm. Rayner, Thm. fil Isabelle Walts, fil' Henri de Colton, Thm. Lyly, Johis Oliver, Robtus del Shippen, Thm.' fil' Robti', Jobs le Carter, Jobs Cowhurd de Bolton, Wills Stert de eadm et Rog le Feryman pochi ecclie de Bolton Percy ad hoc sup' sacrm suu psentant p' indentur' int'se et Priorem et Franc' confect' et alt'natim sigillatas qd nona garbar. yeller and agnor de tots poch' val' hoc anno xxxlj et non plus eo qd nona ps garbar yeller et agnor no potest attinge ad taxam q decia feni valet vij m r' oblatoes et decia quadragesimales et albe decie valent viij m r' et q' lave et agni sunt debit p c et maxima murina bident' ibidm existit in anno psenti.

Itm p sentant qd no est aliquis m cator infra dcam pochiam ne. vivens nisi de agriculture.*

* Nonarum Inquisitiones in Curia scaccarii, Temp. Regis Edw. HI., p. 228.

The Church of Bolton was given by Picote de Percy, to the Priory of Nostall ; but in the year 1150, the Prior and convent of Nostall transferred the patronage to the Archbishop of York. At least this is the account which Drake gives, on the authority of Torre's MSS., but it is more probable that though under the circumstances to be mentioned presently, the Archbishops of York may occasionally have appointed Vicars of Bolton, the Rectory was not in their gift till the beginning of the fifteenth century: for Thomas Parker (1411) is the first Rector whose collation by an Archbishop is sufficiently determined.

In the year 1323, Pope John XXIII. appropriated it to the table of the then present Archbishop during his life, with power at his decease, to reduce the Church to its pristine state : whereupon the Archbishop appointed Robert de Byngham his vicar, assigning him a competent maintenance.

Drake gives the following catalogue of the Rectors of Bolton Percy, on the Authority of Torre's MSS.: but it is necessary to remind the reader of the doubt as to the patronage of the Rectory, until 1411 :-

Temp.
Instit.
Anno
Rectores.Patroni.Vacat.
1250Radul. BritonCollat. Archicpis. 
Dom Rog. d' Oyley per mort.
1309Baldwin de St. Albans cler.Idemper resig.
1323Rob. de Byngham, presb.Idem 
1327Nich. de Duffeld, presb.Idem 
1340Joh. de Pulkore, cap.Rex. Ed. III. sede vacant.per resig.
1345Will. de Shireburn, presb.Archiepisc. Ebor.per mort.
1349Thomas de Halwell, cler.Idemper resig.
1351Joh. de Aylestone, cap.Idemper resig.
1353Joh. de Irford, presb.Idem 
1365Adam de Hedley, vel ClareburghIdemper resig.
1370Tho. de HalwellIdemper mort.
1372Hen. de Barton, presb.Idem 
Rich. Digell, presb.Idemper resig.
1407Will. Crosse, presb.Rex sede vac.per resig.
1411Tho. Parker, presb.Archiepiscopus Ebor.per mort.
1423Joh. Sellowe, presb. decret. B.Idemper mort.
1438Tho. KempeIdem 
1449Joh. BerninghamIdemper resig.
1450Ric. Tene decret. D.Idemper mort.
1463Joh. Sendale, LL.D.Idemper mort.
1406Tho. Pierson, decret. D.Idemper mort.
1490Rob. Wellington, presb. sepult. apud. GillingIdem 
Hen. Trafforde, dccret. doct.Idemper mort.
1537Arthur Cole, cler.Idemper mort.
1557Rob. Johnson, cler. L. B.Idem 
Tho. Lakyn, S. T. P.Idemper mort.
1575Edmund Bunny. S. T. B.Idemper resig.
1603Rog. Akeroyde, S. T. P.Idemper mort.
1617Hen. Wickam, cler.Idem 
1660Tobias Wickam, cler.  

Between Henry Wickam (1617) and Tobias Wickam, (1660) should have been mentioned Henry Fairfax, D.D.; but as Torre took his materials from the records of presentations, and as the name of Fairfax in those times is no warrant of regularity, the omission is easily accounted for. Henry Fairfax was younger brother of Ferdinand, Lord Fairfax, whose monument we shall have to mention presently ; he died in 1665, and therefore did not comply with the times at the Reformation, as his successor Tobias Wickam was appointed in 1660. It is somewhat remarkable that the only inscriptions remaining within the altar rails commemorate those, who seem, so far as presumptive evi-dence goes, to have come in irregularly. They record that Henry Fairfax, formerly Rector of Bolton Percy, and his wife, died in 1649 and 1665, and two of their children in 1654.

To this catalogue the following names may be added:-

1697 WILLIAM PEARSON, LL.D.
1715 THOMAS LAMPLUGH.
1747 WILLIAM HERRING.
1774 JOHN MARSDEN.
1796 ROBERT MARKHAM.
1837 WILLIAM VERNON HARCOURT,
Prebendary of Newbald, and Canon Residentiary of York, the present Rector.

Some of the names occurring in this catalogue deserve farther mention for their care of the fabric of the Church of Bolton, or of the Cathedral of York.

The present Church of Bolton was built by Thomas Parker.

John Berningham was treasurer of York from 1432 to 1457, within which time the West towers of the Cathedral were rebuilt. His name, with the figure of a bear, is cut in bold relief on the West face of the Southern tower. By his will, proved May 28, 1457, he left fifty pounds for the farther reparation of the fabric.

William Pearson rebuilt the rectory house, the date of which is inscribed on the South Porch, 1698. Gent, who visited Bolton about twenty years after Dr. Pearson's death, calls it a neat house, with fine gardens, and adds : " his name is still precious in respect of that behaviour, learning, eloquence and piety which adorned his life."

Thomas Lamplugh was the grandson of Archbishop Lamplugh. He was Prebendary of Knaresbro', and Canon Residentiary of York. To him the painted glass still remaining in the Chancel of Bolton Church owes its preservation.

The Rectory of Bolton was valued in the King's books at £39. 15s. 2½d., and was returned by the last parliamentary commissioners at £1540.

The Church.

We have already seen that there was a Church in Bolton Percy at the Conquest, but of this fabric there are no vestiges remaining, nor indeed of any structure intermediate between that time and the date of the present Church, which was built by Thomas Parker, who died Rector of the Parish in 1423. The pious and munificent builder did not live to see the dedica-tion of his work to its solemn service; for a commission issued, dated July 8, 1424, to the Bishop of Dromore, to consecrate the Church and Church-yard, and the High Altar of the Church, newly erected and built. The original authority for attri-buting the work to Thomas Parker was a tombstone on the South side of the Altar, which has since perished.

Church PlanThe Church is dedicated to All Saints, and con-sists of a Tower, Nave, North and South Aisles, Vestry, and Chancel. The Wooden Porch can scarcely be mentioned as a component part of the fabric.

Exterior.

The Tower is of four stories, supported by small and narrow buttresses of seven stages. Above the battlements rise four crocketted pinnacles. The arch of the west door is four cen-tered, and has dripstones finished without either returns or bosses. The window immediately over it is of three lights. The upper story of the tower is of later date than the rest of the Church, and has very plain square-headed windows, without dripstones, or any architectural decorations. This is the only part of the Church, (with the exception of the south porch, a mere wooden appendage,) which is not in perfect keeping with the general design.

The Bell-chamber contains three Bells, appropriated to the respective townships, Steetley, Colton, and Nunappleton. In tolling the Bolton Percy Bells, the death of an inhabitant of each of the townships is indicated by the final ringing of the Bell supplied by that township.

In 1605, the great Bell was re-cast at Bradford, and in 1609 the middle Bell was re-cast at York. Gent gives the Inscriptions on the Bells as follows :-

I In jucunditatis sono onabo tibi Domine, et in Dulcedine bads cantabo Tuo Domine, 1605.
II Deo Gloria Pax Hominibus, 1628.
III Non formam spectas Domini, scd supplice ferias, 1620.

Church ExteriorThe West window of the North aisle is of three lights, with a dripstone with plain returns. The North door is very plain, and without a Porch. The North windows are three in number, of three lights, and with four centered arches, with buttresses of three stages between them. The angles also of the aisles have buttresses set on diagonally. The East window of the aisle answers to that opposite, except that the dripstones are finished with heads. The lower parapet moulding is terminated at each extremity by grotesque masks.

The same description may serve for the exterior of the South aisle, except that a wooden porch, without any attention to the style of the Church, has been built over the South entrance. Fortunately it is covered with ivy, so that it rather improves the general effect of the Church than otherwise, at least when viewed from a little distance.

The Chancel is both without and within of singular beauty, not so much from the richness of its decorations, (though these are by no means meagre,) as from the excellence of its workmanship, and grace of proportions. It is lighted by three windows on either side, with a great East window. The buttresses which are of three stages, die in the wall beneath the embattled parapet ; but a crocketted pinnacle rises over each buttress, though not in continuation of it. On the North and South the windows are of three lights, of con-siderable aperture, and very superior in grace of form to those in the aisles. The East window is of five lights, without transoms. The mouldings of all the chancel windows are excellent, and the dripstones of all are terminated with heads or figures. The lower moulding of the central South window is carried round the head of the South chancel door, which has no spandrels or other finish, so that it trenches as little as possible upon the window above. Over the East gable of the chancel is a stone crucifix, which was for some time in the rectory garden,* and was probably brought from some other place. It has been placed in, or restored to, its present position, by the good taste and good feeling of the present Rector.

*The frequent conversion of the decorative parts of Churches, and even of their essential furniture, into ornaments for pleasure grounds and secular buildings, is one of the things which most frequently distresses the eye of the Churchman. The following lines on a font so desecrated, which first appeared in the Ecclesiologist, derives authority from being adopted by the Lord Bishop of Down and Connor and Dromore, into his inaugural address to the Architectural Society lately established in his dioceses.
" Go, friend, the Church's Ruler tell, that by a doom severe, To bear the garden's flowery store you saw me stationed here ; Me, who in ancient hallow'd house of Christ installed of yore, Plants of Celestial parentage and flowers ambrosial bore, For sons of men, baptiz'd in me and my life-giving flood, Of water and the HOLY GHOST were born, the Sons of GOD. Now all is changed! Those flowers of earth I soon to earth resign, Oh! woe is me! 0 glory once my own, no longer mine!"

Attached to the North wall of the chancel is the low square Vestry, evidently of the same date with the rest of the Church. It has one window to the East, of three small lights, surmounted by an angular dripstone.

The roof of the chancel is covered with lead, that of the Nave and Aisles with grey slate. The roof will demand farther notice, when we speak of the

Interior.

The first interior view of the Church, entering at the West, supposing the singing gallery away, is very impressive. The tower arch is open, and lofty, so that the eye is at once directed onwards, through the midst of slender shafts, and beneath the elegant, though very simple roof, to the wide and lofty chancel arch, and the great East window beyond. The pulpit is not placed so as to interrupt the view, and with one or two exceptions to be mentioned presently, which do not very materially injure the general effect, the removal of the rood screen is the only thing which the eye has to regret.

Church InteriorThe Nave is separated from the Aisles by four arches, resting on three slender octangular piers ; against the first of which, at the north-west, is the large circular font, lined with lead, and covered with a heavy canopy. There is no clerestory, but both within and without the difficulty of making a single expanse of roof otherwise than clumsy in effect is admirably overcome. The roof is of oak, and though of very considerable span, without tie beams ; and the principal timbers, between the different bays, being curved and finished with a moulding, give to the whole the general effect of a vaulted roof. In the Nave and Aisles the slates rest immediately upon the timbers of the roof, so that they are seen from below : in the Chancel, which is covered with lead, wooden planks are inter-posed ; and this is the only difference between the roof of the Chancel and of the Nave that need be noted, except that in the Chancel the corbels on which the main timbers rest are slightly enriched, while those in the Nave are plain. *

* It may be appropriately mentioned here, that the beautiful roof of the Choir of Selby, is of wood, built up after the pattern of stone vaulting.

Between the Nave and Chancel was formerly a Rood-screen, which is now sawed off to the top of the lower compartment ; against the back of which, six of the old stalls still remain. There are also left some of the original open benches, with carved poppy heads. The destruction of the screen cannot be too much regretted, for it must have added extremely to the beauty of the church, and could not interfere in the slightest degree, with any part of the service, or with the comfort of a single worshipper, which is too often made a reason for great alterations in the fabric or furniture of a Church.

Sedilia and PiscinaThe approach to the Altar is by three steps ; and instead of the elevation being less than it was originally, the extreme lowness of the seats of the Sedilia, as they now are, shows that the floor has been rais-ed a few inches. The Sedilia and Piscina, which occupy their usual place in the south wall, are of very beautiful design and execution, and have suffered but little from the lapse of time or the hand of violence, though the pinnacles with which they were once adorned are all of them truncated; and we may add that a singular impression remains of a brass, at the back of one of the seats of the Sedilia, which once repre-sented a crucifix with the kneeling figure of St. John, at the left side of the cross. The scats in the Sedilia, arc of equal height, and not, as is common, lower as they recede from the east : and they are not separated even by intervening columns, the points from which the canopies spring, and which usually rest on the capitals of slender columns, being converted into pendents, and finished with figures underneath. The Piscina has two perfora-tions, separated by a delicately carved flower, which rests, as it were, at the bottom of the basin.

The painted glass, with which all the Chancel windows are adorned, has suffered something from time and neglect, but much of its beauty still remains. In Torres' MSS. it is stated that " the windows in this Church have been miserably defaced and broken ; and the arms and painted glass nearly destroyed. By a book of drawings in the Herald's Office, taken by Sir W. Dugdale, 1641, it appears that there were thirty-three different coats of arms then in the windows." At present there are more than thirty-three ; and yet, even allowing for the destruction of many during the troublesome times succeeding Sir William Dugdale's visit, this may be very consistent with Torre's account; for Gent, in his " Journey into some parts of York-shire," &c., appended to his " History of Ripon," (1731,) tells us that Rev. Mr. Thomas Lamplugh, who was then Rector, had been at the charge to preserve what remained, and that he had brought together into the Choir, much that was scattered over various parts of the church, a work commemorated by the letters and date T. L., 1720. The number brought from the Aisles may well enough therefore have increased the number of arms, even curtailed as it may have been in Torre's time, to more than they were when Sir W. Dugdale made his drawings.

It is quite out of the question to attempt a detailed account of the arms and other devices in these windows. We may content ourselves with the rapid enumeration of Gent, with a few elucidations interspersed.

Commencing at the north-west, the first window has a repre-sentation of our Blessed Saviour ; and also a small figure of Abraham offering up his son Isaac : which last, from the infe-riority of the colours, design and execution, and from the utter want of harmony with every thing around it, seems to be of a much later date than all the rest in the Chancel, and was doubtless among those brought by Mr. Lamplugh from some other part of the Church, unless perhaps it was then first painted. In the second window are St. Elizabeth, and St. John Baptist. In the East window are four Archbishops, (probably Scrope, Bowett, Kempe, and Booth,) and St. Andrew in the middle. In the first South window, next the Altar, is St. Peter : in the second, the Blessed Virgin and our Saviour ; and in the third, a young Bishop, probably George Neville, who was made Bishop of Exeter before the twentieth year of his age, and became Archbishop of York in 1464.

The coats of arms are numerous in each window, among them may be mentioned:-

  • Quarterly : 1st and 4th, Or, a lion rampant Azure: 2d and 3d Azure, three luces* hauriant Argent; for Percy and Lucy.
  • Gules, a lion rampant argent, for Beaumont.
  • The arms of the see of York, impaling vert, three bucks trippant argent; for Archbishop Rotherham.
  • Argent, a chevron between three does heads sable, for Bunney, of which family was Edmund Bunney, who resigned the rectory in 1603.

* This is one of the bearings by which Heraldry is amusingly associated with literature. In THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, Shakspere thus designates the prototype of his Justice Shallow. "All his successors gone before him have done't ; and all his ancestors that come after him, may; they may give the dozen white luces in their coat."

Vestry DrainThe Vestry, which is entered by a North door in the chancel, is a low, small, square room, with little to be remarked, except a water drain, like a very plain piscina, in a niche in the south wall, and only just above the level of the floor. This is probably of very rare occurrence, and certainly has been seldom if ever obser-ved elsewhere.* What may have been its intended use it would be difficult to decide, though its position in the south wall of the Vestry, which is also the north wall of the Chancel, seems to indicate some use connected with the sacred vessels : had it had a more common use it would probably have been in the north or west wall.

* In a building in Warmington Church, Warwickshire, answering in position to this Vestry, and used probably as a residence for the Hebdomarius, or priest who came thither for a weekly course of duty, there is a piscina in the East wall, but it is connected with a stone altar, which still remains, so that the ground floor of the building, (there are two stories,) should seem to have been a chantry as well as a dwelling room. The latter use is clear, from the fire place and the general arrangement.

We may mention by the way, that in the Church at Burton Dasset, within four miles of Warmington, is another stone altar, and one which has not yet been recorded. That at Warmington is mentioned by Bloxam in a paper on Chantry Altars, in the Cambridge Camden Society's Transactions.

It were unjust not to give Gent's description of the Pulpit, and equally unjust not to add, that what-ever may be its beauties, they are quite out of character with a Gothic Church. " Near this," says he, (that is near the monu-ment of Ferdinand, Lord Fairfax,) " is a most beautiful pulpit, with cherub heads adorning the top, and exactly over the head of the minister is there painted a glory round I. H. S., for Jesus Hominum Salvator, with a bleeding heart below, pierced through with three sharp weapons, denoting some sacred mysteries ; which I leave to those in holy orders to describe."† This pulpit is removed from the place where Gent saw it, to the second south pier, so that it does not intercept the view from the west to the Altar.

† If It were worth while to afford any indications of Gent's power of appreciating the proprieties of architecture, we might refer to his description of Beverley Minster; when he proceeds to write of its "modern improvements," "Tis certainly pleasant," says be "to view this fabrick at a distance, on a summer's day, with its beautiful dome and a ball, gilt with gold, glittering by the refulgent beams of the son."-History of Ripon, page 88.

A fragment of the parochial history of Bolton, may serve to introduce the reader to the pews. 1597. " After morning service and sermon, Sir W. Fairfax, the younger, now living at Nunappleton, came out of the Quire [called St. Marks or Beckwiths,] into the body of the Church, and there, in very good and orderly manner, desired on the behalf of Mr. James Moyser, the said Mr. Moyser not then and there denying it, that we, the Parson, the Churchwardens and others of the chief of the parish, would advise and settle of some convenient place for the said Mr. Moyser and his company wherein to sit and be in time of divine service and sermons. Whereupon the same afternoon, after evening prayer, it was agreed that the next Sabbath or Sunday we should talk about it, and that such of the parties as would, should there come and help forward the matter the best that they could, which was agreed by the Parson, all the Churchwardens, and many other neighbours, nobody then speaking any thing at all against it." *

*It was only a year after this little incident at Bolton, that we find it related in the History of Hull, (Gent,) that "new seats being now made in the High Church for all degrees of mankind in the town; they tamely submitted to those places, which were allotted for them. But it was not so with the fair sex : their disputes ran so high, that Ecclesiastical Commis-sioners were required to regulate the affair; which they did to satisfaction."

The pews as they now appear, are for the most part of good substantial oak, low, and with terminating knobs at each corner. They are probably of about the time of Charles II. They are just high enough to conceal the bases of the pillars, but are on the whole infinitely superior to the close pees in most Churches. Of a large well furnished pew in the north aisle it is difficult to know how to speak, because it would be almost morally wrong to speak of it, except in such a manner as would seem to be intended to give offence ; and yet, as it is one of the most conspicuous objects in the Church, it would look like affectation to pass it over.

Whether or no there is any superstitious origin of the custom of singing in raised galleries, and whether singers love to be elevated a little above the congregation for any such reason as that which induces the jumpers to build high platforms in their meeting houses, it might be difficult to say ; but this at least is certain, that few Churches are without the most dissiglitly addition of a singing gallery at the west end. Nothing would be more easy than to get rid of that at Bolton Percy, and then the tower arch which is already open from the spring of the arch upwards, would be free, and the Church would present as beautiful an appearance from the chancel, as it now does from the west end.

There are some inscriptions recorded as having once existed in the Church of Bolton Percy, the mention of which ought not to he omitted, especially that on the stone which covered the remains of Thomas Parker, the builder of the Church. It was as follows :

Orate pro Thoma Parker quondam Rectore eccl. ae ejusdem fabricators.
In the West aisle,, as appears from Gent, there was once a stone which he assigns to the fourteenth Prioress of Appleton, a Cistercian Nunnery, on which the following words were legible :-

Orate pro anima quondam Priorissa N Monasterii xxxiii. qua obit prima bit mens. Deeem anima propitietur Deus. Amen.

While founders of Churches, and most holy and most noble men, and the flower of chivalry, and the boast of nations, were ever content with the cumbent effigy, or the lowly brass, which spoke only in the mute language of uplifted hands, or at most in the brief and simple legend, the virtue and noble birth of later days, will not be content without blotting out a window, or destroying a column, that the tablet may contain in large letters, the mighty name and the resplendent character. Are piety to the dead, and piety to God so utterly irreconcilable, that the dead cannot be worthily commemorated, without mutilating the Lord's House ? And is it in the nature of things impossible, that the pride of ancestry, or whatever else prompts the descen-dants of a great man to emblazon his arms, and to inscribe his titles and his offices on a sepulchral tablet, should be contented with some form of monument which would at least not destroy the beauty of the sanctuary, in which the deceased, if he was a good man, worshipped in humility, -within which, if he was a bad man, he ought to have no memorial ?

And if any are inclined to think the complaint greater than the offence, only let them see the clustered columniations of the Chancel piers in Bolton Church cut away,* on either side, to receive two huge monuments of the Fairfax's, of the inscription on one of which the following is a copy :

M. S.
AMPLISSIMI, DESIDERALISSIMIQUE
FERDINANDI DOMINI FAIRFAX, BARON DE CAMERON.
QUEM BRITANNICAE VIRTUTIS ET FIDEI THEATRUM
AGER EBORACENSIS EDIDIT,
MAJORUM SPLENDORE CLARUM,
CURATOREM PACIS STUDIOSISSIMUM.
IRARUM (SI QUAS PEPERIT VICINIA) SEQUESTRUM,
AEQUI BONIQUE TENACISSIMUM.
QUIPPE SUMMA DOMI FORISQUE AUCTORITATE,
PARIQUE APUD WINES ORDINES GRATIA,
PUBLICAE QUIETIS AMANS,
SED BELLO INSUPERABILIS
DEXTRA GLADIUM SINISTRA SLATERAM TENENS
UTRIUSQUE LAUDIS TROPHEA RETULIT:
RELIGIONIS CULTOR,
LITERARUM PATRONUS,
HUMANITATIS REPUMICATOR:
NOBILISSIMAE PROLIS NUMERO, ET PIETATE FELIX,
QUA VIRUM MARIA EDMUNDI COMIT. MULGRAVE FILIA
NOVIES BEAVIT.
QUID IGITUR NOVI? SI (QUOS SINQULARIS AMOR TAMDIU
TAMQUE; MULTIPLICI PIQNORE SOCIAVIT)
MORS IPSA NON DIRIMET.
OBIIT ANNO {AETATIS 64 {SALUTIS HUMANAE illi1MANAE, 1647.

* The good taste of the artist has refused to portray the monstrous deformities here alluded to, in the interior view of the Church.

It would be wasting words to offer any formal proof that such a monumental inscription as this, on a tablet of cinque cento design, destroying, not merely disfiguring but actually breaking in upon, component parts of the Church's structure, is worse both in taste and religious feeling, than the unobtrusive inscriptions, or the figure harmonising with the design of the Church, of ages which we are accustomed to call degraded in religion and in taste. Blame of course is not cast on individuals: but on the age which produced such perversions blame really should be cast. The truth is that a subtle spirit of paganism has embued the taste and feelings, and almost the religious creed of the mass of professing Christians during many genera-tions ; and in nothing has it been more painfully exemplified than in the sepulchral monuments of our immediate ancestors. They did not in fact desert the obsequies consecrated by our Lord's tomb ; but while they buried their dead, they intro-duced the cinerary urn into the symbolical language of the monument, expressing the Christian's grief in language borrowed from heathen cremations:* they did not actually invoke heathen deities in any religious service, nor pro-mise to heroes and statesmen an immortality with Mars or Minerva ; but they freely introduced mythological figures on the tombs of those whom they would immortalize : they did not actually worship the departed dead, nor celebrate their apotheosis ; but such inscriptions as that we have just recorded, are, in their spirit, not very far removed from hero-worship. And sad it is to say, yet true, that the greater part of our most noble ecclesiastical edifices, are partially paganized in character, by the obtrusive introduction of such sepulchral devices.

* The moral of this symbol appeared in the dreadful scene of poor Shelley's obsequies.

One word in conclusion on some features of this Church which would make it a thoroughly practical study to Church builders in the present day. The general character of the Church is elegant and sub-stantial, without excess of ornament ; so that it might be exactly copied without great expense. The slenderness of the piers, with the width of the nave, and indeed the general proportions of the nave and aisles, affords a very large available space for the congregation, within sight and hearing of the priest in all his ministrations : and the breadth of the chancel, with the great span of the chancel arch, throws open the altar in a remarkable degree to the whole body of the Church.* The roof, moreover, is exceedingly good in effect, when its simplicity of construction is considered. It is without tie beams, and throughout the nave and aisles the slates rest immediately upon it : yet simple and cheap as it is in its construction, the curve and mouldings of the principle timbers give it almost the character of a vaulted roof. And finally : though there is scarcely an instance of a modern Church, with a nave and aisles, but without a clerestory, which does not displease the eye, especially on an exterior view, by the weight of a large unbroken roof, nothing can be more marked than the success with which this difficulty is combatted, in the Church of Bolton Percy.

* The proportions of the Church are as follows:-
Tower 16ft. 7in. by 12ft. 3in. Nave 58ft. 6in. by 24ft. 10. North and South Aisles of Nave, each 58ft. 6in. by 10ft. Sin. Chancel 44ft. 6in. by 22ft. lin. Total length of the Church 119ft. 7in. Total breadth 45ft. 4in, These are all interior admeasurments.

The interior view chews the great span of the chancel arch, being in fact the whole breadth of the chancel, the necessary piers excepted.

The author of this notice of Bolton Percy Church, confesses his obligations to the local histories of Gent and Drake, and to the still more important and authentic information, which has been kindly afforded by Rev. W. Vernon Harcourt, the present Rector.

Church Details 1

Church Details 2


Data transcribed by
Colin Hinson © 2019
from
The Churches of Yorkshire
by W H Hatton, 1880