English Church Architecture.
LANGCLIFFE, St. John (SD 824 650),
(Bedrock: Carboniferous Dinantian Subsystem, Kilnsey Formation.)
A small church by Mallinson & Heasley erected largely at the expense of the local landowner.
As discussed under the entry for Manningham, Mallinson and Healey drew their clients from almost every rank and profession of men who were ever likely to want to build in the western half of the West Riding. Only a proportion of these were the patrons: others were chairmen of building committees or men holding respected positions who hoped to spend other people's money for them. Nevertheless, most can be seen to have fallen into one of six broad and overlapping categories, even if the category in which they were best placed at any given time depended on the precise rôle they were then occupying. Those broad groupings were local industrialists, tradesmen, landowners, leading Nonconformists and local politicians.
St. John's, Langcliffe, is one of the smallest, and perhaps the remotest, of the churches erected by Mallinson & Healey if one discounts the former church at Dalehead, Lancashire, whose ruins now lie submerged beneath the waters of Stocks Reservoir. It was paid for largely by John Green Paley J.P. (d. 1860), a partner of the Bowling Ironworks Company and a member of the prominent Langcliffe family of that name, who owned much of the land around the village and who was consequently both an industrialist and a substantial landowner. He gave the site, £800 towards the erection of the church and £1,200 towards its endowment, and a grant of £230 was obtained from the Ripon Diocesan Church Building Society, which brought the money available for the church's construction almost up to the estimated cost of £1,113 (The Leeds Intelligencer, 13th April 1850, p. 6). The foundation stone was laid on the 27th December 1850, and the finished building was consecrated on 29th September 1851 by Charles Longley, Bishop of Ripon. The church consists of a chancel with a lean-to N. organ chamber, a nave with a S. porch, and a bell-cote topped by a spirelet. The poorly designed N. vestry is an addition of 1931.
Externally here there is little on which to comment. The masonry is rock-faced and the roofs are tiled. The bell-côte is supported partly on the nave's west gable and partly on a projecting corbel. The windows are geometric in style and consist chiefly of trefoil-cusped lancets although the two tall lights to the west also have trilobes in their heads, a two-light S. window to the chancel has an encircled cinquefoil in the head, and the three-light E. window has tracery formed of two encircled trefoils and an encircled quatrefoil.
Inside the church, it is the woodwork that is most interesting. The chancel is approached up two steps from the nave, through an arch bearing three hollow chamfers supported on semi-octagonal responds, and a third step then rises from the chancel to the sanctuary. The nave roof (illustrated above left) has two tiers of purlins and V-struts above the collars, but these are substituted by scissor-bracing in the chancel. It is difficult to tell whether the furniture is original but the simple but attractive communion rail (shown below) is reminiscent of William Butterfield: the rail itself is supported on openwork quatrefoils which provide a rather loose match with the two short choir benches and reader's desk to the west, the former with openwork trefoils punched through the supporting panels and the latter with recessed quatrefoils cut into the substructure The reredos is set between a pair of wooden panels on each side, bearing the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostle's Creed. The chancel walls are attractively stencil-patterned in gold, sage green and brown. Finally, at the opposite end of the church, the font (shown above right) consists of a slightly cambered octagonal bowl supported on a plain octagonall stem, and is decorated on its cardinal sides with the carved symbols of the Evangelists set in roundels.