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English Church Architecture -

North Yorkshire.


LANGCLIFFE, St. John (SD 824 650)     (November 2016)

(Bedrock:  Carboniferous Dinantian Subsystem, Kilnsey Formation)




This is one of the smallest, and perhaps the remotest, of the churches erected by Mallinson & Healey, (shown above, from the southeast), assuming one discounts the church at Dalehead, Lancashire, whose ruins now lie submerged beneath the waters of Stocks Reservoir.  St. John's was constructed on land donated by John Green Paley (d. 1860), a partner of the Bowling Ironworks Company (of Bradford) and a member of the prominent Langcliffe family of that name, who owned much of the land around the village although none of its members lived here by this time (notes in the church).  A grant towards the cost of the church was given by the Ripon Diocesan Church Building Society, 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 1931.


Externally at least, there is little on which to comment.  The masonry is rock-faced and the roofs are tiled.  The bell-cote is supported partly by the extreme west end of the nave roof and partly on a projecting corbel.  The style of the windows is commensurate with c. 1300, and consist in the main of trefoil-cusped lancet lights, although the two tall ones to the west have trilobes in their heads, a two-light S. window to the chancel has an encircled cinquefoil above and between the lights, and the three-light E. window has two encircled trefoils and an encircled quatrefoil in the head.



Inside the church, it is the woodwork that is most interesting.  The chancel is approached up two steps from the nave, through a chancel arch bearing three hollow chamfers supported on semi-octagonal responds, and a third step rises from chancel to the sanctuary.  The nave roof (above left) has two tiers of purlins and V-struts above the collars, but these are substituted in the chancel by scissor bracing instead.  As for whether any of the furniture is original, that is difficult to say, but the simple but attractive communion rail (below) is reminiscent of William Butterfield: the rail itself is supported on openwork quatrefoils which offer 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 (above right) consists of a slightly cambered octagonal bowl supported on a plain octagonal stem, and is decorated on its cardinal sides with carved symbols of the Evangelists set in roundels.