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English Church Architecture -

Bradford (U. A.).


ILKLEY, All Saints (SE 116 479)     (September 2017)

(Bedrock:  Carboniferous Namurian Series, mixed deposits from the Millstone Grit Group)


This is not a church of much architectural significance for it has been heavily restored in all parts except for the chancel, which is Victorian work of 1860 by Mallinson and Healey of Halifax and Bradford.  The building (seen above from the southeast) consists of a short W. tower, a nave with lean-to aisles (the south aisle being wider than the north) and a low but fairly long S. porch without windows, and a chancel with an independently-gabled N. chapel and a N. vestry to the east of that. The nave and tower are Perpendicular or Tudor in style (in the case of the N. aisle and N. clerestory), though probably not in date. The tower rises in two diagonally-buttressed stages to battlements and crocketed pinnacles at the corners, and windows are square-headed throughout the building except in the chancel E. wall, where Mallinson and Healey adopted the Decorated style without pursuing it very convincingly for the five-light E. window has just a single tier of fully-reticulation units above the lights, while above that, where there should have been two more, the units have been run together and cusped at the top only, to produce a curious mongrel design which is less than satisfactory. 


Inside the church, the building’s oldest structural feature is the re-used doorway inside the porch (illustrated left), bearing two orders of dog-tooth surrounded by a roll.  This is Early English in style and probably early within the period.  The nave arcades are formed of double-flat-chamfered arches springing from octagonal piers, but some small interest resides in a few of the capitals, two of which have prominent leaf carving while the most curious if also the least artistic has a series of parallel horizontal mouldings, interrupted by vertical mouldings (as seen in the photograph immediately beneath on the right).    Such a non-standard design is impossible to ascribe closely but might be contemporary with the thirteenth century S. doorway.  The chancel arch, which probably predates the chancel’s Victorian reconstruction, is strikingly four-centred.


The nave and chancel roofs have purlins ⅓ and ⅔ of the way up the pitch, but whereas the tie beams link the wall plates in the former, they join the lower purlins in the latter and are possibly more accurately described as low collars.  


Perhaps the most interesting features in the church, therefore, after this brief, rather uninspiring survey, are the Saxon crosses now standing inside the tower, which have apparently been gathered up from various places in the churchyard, showing that the site of the church at least is of ancient foundation.  The shortest cross is believed to date from the late eighth century while the other two are likely to be some fifty years later.  Thought originally to have been grave-markers in an early Saxon cemetery, they were probably once painted in (for the context) surprisingly vibrant colours.