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English Church Architecture -

North Yorkshire.


TOCKWITH, Church of the Epiphany (SE 466 524)     (November 2017)

(Bedrock:  Triassic Sherwood Sandstone Group, undifferentiated sandstone)


This significant and immaculately maintained church is doubly notable today for the retention of its original Victorian layout and almost all its original furniture and furnishings, as demonstrated by the detailed description of the building in the Yorkshire Gazette for October 27th, 1866, in its report on  the church’s consecration.  The architects, according to the report, were Mallinson and Healey of Halifax and Bradford, who were “worthy of the highest commendation in designing so elegant a church”, although by this date the firm was no longer in existence, following Thomas Healey's death in November 1862 and a subsequent period of about a year while his sons, Thomas Henry and Francis, continued to work with James Mallinson.  Precisely who designed the Church of the Epiphany, therefore, may now be virtually impossible to tell, but the work was probably completed no later than 1863, and whoever was responsible may also have been the architect of St. Barnabas's, Heaton (Bradford) around the same time.  The churches share a similarly pure geometric style and a comparable Ruskinian emphasis on basic solid geometry, notwithstanding that the present building is noticeably less muscular (as seen in the photographs of the church above, taken from the north).  However, both buildings show that the company could still produce good work and that a lack of inspiration or ability was not the reason it was disbanded, with Thomas Henry and Francis Healey departing to establish a company of their own, and James Mallinson forming a new partnership with William Swindon Barber. 


The Church of the Epiphany is pseudo-cruciform in plan, being formed of a wide but aisleless nave with a N. porch, a chancel with a cross-gabled S. organ chamber, and shallow transepts but no true crossing, instead of which there is a circular northwest tower, accessed from the porch and surmounted by a short conical spire.  Dimensions are (again according to the Yorkshire Gazette), nave - 65’ by 22’,  chancel - 32’ by 21’,  transepts - 14½’ by 17½’,  and the tower - 70’ high.  Windows are mostly two or three-light, apart from the four-light chancel E. window with subarcuation of the lights in pairs, the wheel window high up in the nave W. wall, and a smaller wheel window in the S. wall of the vestry, but with the obvious exception of the last two, all are formed of uncusped lancet lights, sometimes stepped, and tracery composed of pseodo-trefoils, quatrefoils, cinquefoils and sexfoils, made up of circles surrounding circles.  Some  windows have an order of side shafts, either outside or in, in the former case with capitals consisting of simple rectangular blocks of deliberately pockmarked stone, which is perhaps the only ugly element in this otherwise attractive building.  The tower rises in four short stages.



Inside the church, both the transept arches and the chancel arch open directly into the nave beneath wide, flat intradoses with rolls on the angles, supported on large angel corbels in the case of the transept arches and by pairs of corbel shafts with leaf capitals which rest in turn on larger angel corbels in the case of the chancel arch (as illustrated in the interior photograph of the church, above, looking towards the east).  A smaller arch opens from the chancel to the S. organ chamber-cum-vestry.


The furnishings include, first and foremost, the very fine “pulpit [which] is of alabaster and circular in shape (shown below left).  It stands on  upon a stone plinth and has six shafts of dark green marble, with beautifully carved capitals of white marble.”  The font (below right), which has been moved from the west end of the nave  to a more convenient place in the S. transept

“is round in shape and... of alabaster...  [It] stands on a base of dark green marble.  The floor of the church is paved with Minton’s tiles of different colours and has a pretty effect... The altar rail is of oak and is supported by ornamental iron work... The church is fitted up with neat and substantial open seats of oak, and they are provided with book shelves.” 

As for the window glass, which was likewise installed in 1866, the E. window

“is a great ornament to the church.  It is filled in with stained glass by Messrs. Hardman of Birmingham.  The subjects illustrated are the Agony in the Garden, Christ led away to be crucified, Christ bearing the Cross, and the Crucifixion.  The general tone of the window is good, the colouring throughout being rich and mellow, the whole harmonizing well together.  The tracery is [also] of stained glass, containing in the centre the Agnus Dei, surrounded by a variety of devices...  The south window represents the raising of Lazarus, with the motto, ‘Thy brother shall rise again’, and the north window is illustrative of the Good Samaritan, the motto being ‘Go and do thou likewise’.



The report also contains important information about the materials used in the building’s construction, together with the eventual cost.  The interior and exterior walls are faced with Wetherby limestone and the roofs are of deal, stained and varnished, covered with Westmorland slates.  The total cost of the work, including the furnishings, was approximately £4,000, which was provided in its entirety by Mrs. Yorke of Wighill Park.