A Church Tour

A Timeline

A visit to any significant historic place is constrained by its geography.  Today, we’ll transport ourselves, as if by magic, to walk through the history of St Andrew’s.  Fortunately, we can do it with scant regard to our aching feet as we tramp up and down the virtual aisles.

Welcome!

You have just come in through the door and you are standing at the western end of the church, looking down the remarkable length of the church.  Measuring around 45 metres (145 ft) from east to west, it’d one of the longest parish churches in this part of the world, earning St Andrew’s the title,
“The Lang Kirk o’ Craven”

Geographical Beginnings

Geography usually plays a major part in the “why here?” decisions.  The river didn’t have nicely defined banks as it does now.  All of the green area on the map will have been wet boggy boot-sucking goo.  If you had to cross the river somewhere – where would you choose to keep your feet as dry as possible?

Just north of the narrow crossing-place is a fairly flat piece of raised ground.  A super spot for your new church!
(Interestingly, the site later chosen by the monks for their corn mill is just to the east of the bridge site, where a little tongue of slightly higher land reaches out to the river bank.)

Early Days

In answer to your question … We don’t know!  Not a lot of people wrote things down in those days.  We just have to make educated guesses from what evidence we can glean.

We have the name: Kild Wick.  “Kild could well be “child” and a “wick” may be an outlying farm but is (attractively) also a Scandinavial trading post.  When the North Men went “wicking”, they were not making war with spears and horned helmets but they were trading.  And there’s our very first evidence. Walk down the church, turn right – then left again and find our saxon stones on your right. Click here to read about the Saxon stones.

Invasion

The records go silent for 100 years.  The country is in a degree of turmoil as different small kingdoms fight, not just against any common enemies but also amongst themselves.  And then more “North Men” arrived – but these were from closer at hand – just across the Channel.  Yes – it was William and his Nor-man army.
And we all know the end-of-season score in 1066.

In the early years of the Norman occupation,  the small number of incoming lords took full advantage of the very effective Saxon administration.  Kildwick was looked after by a Saxon called Arnketil, who was “lord” of a good many manors as well as Kildwick.  Thus he appears in that Saxon creation, ordered by the Normans, the Domesday Book.

Click here to read about the Domesday Book and the Norman stones

Famine, Plague and Floods

The early 1300’s were not a good time to be around.  Climate change was taking place – there was global warming, crops were failing, rivers flooding.  Whole communities starved, Kildwick bridge was washed away, the Scots were raiding south – and then the Plague hit.  By contrast, Covid is a doddle!

In the 14th century, the rich and philanthropic could not invest in medical research, advanced agronomy or climate change mitigation – but they could do something for the immortal souls of both themselves and their dependents.
And so they built a new church.

Who led this?  We don’t know, but we can make a good educated guess. 
Robert, Lord of Steeton, comes from a family whose members were traditionally buried at Bolton Priory.  Here, though, is a fine monument in pride of place.

Read here about Robert de Styveton (and how his tomb is mis-labeled)

Near the effigy of Robert de Stiverton (spelling is optional!) is our Parish Chest.  I believe that, nowadays, all churches must provide a safe for the secure storage of important items and it was no different in mediaeval times.  Used for storing documents and valuables, it was probably kept in the Sanctuary, near the main altar.

We have no idea how old it is.  One day we may find out by tree-ring analysis but for now it sits close to the possibly contemporary tomb of our possivle benefactor.  Read more here.

Not far from the chest, we find our font.  Traditionally placed near the door, it is a mark of entry, not just to the church but, by baptism, into the Christian life.  This font was carved in the late 14th or early 15th century and carries eight symbols of the Crucifixion.  The lettering represent Jesus, Mary and John.  Read about the font here

The Roof and the Clerestory Windows

The squat church tower was probably built around this time.  We know that it was there before the current roof because, if you look outside, you can see clearly signs of an earlier, steeper roof (see the “Roof Sleuth” page here).

 

Here’s a list of the detail pages (in some sort of chronological order):

There will be plenty more!