St Lawrence

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The church was rebuilt in c. 1782 in the Georgian - Gothic style and is the church you see today. In the account and minute books of the George Smith Charity of 1697 the Chapel is described as being 'in decay'. At the end of the 17th century many churches would have been in a similar state after all the changes and destruction wrought by the ruling authorities in the 16th and 17th centuries. Ten pounds was given by the Charity towards repairs and the 'beautifying' of Aldfield Chapel in 1697.
The new oak doors of the church open into a chapel-like interior with three bays. To your right is a very fine example of a three-decker pulpit-­the clerk's seat and desk, the parson's seat and desk, and the pulpit. The oak three-decker pulpit and the box pews are very picturesque and characteristic of an 18th century church. Church records from the mid 19th century give details of where each member of the congregation had to sit and also for the building of the vestry. When the church was built, decorative painting was restricted in churches. The two wooden panels either side of the altar are typical examples of what was acceptable.

The foundation of the building is mediaeval, the earlier church having had a tower. It is constructed on the edge of the Fountains Abbey estate. Externally the only point of note is the Decorated east window (see below) which survives from the old church. Otherwise it could be taken as a small independent chapel.

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The exterior completely belies what is found inside. You step right back in time to the days of Protestant worship. The fittings are all 18th century, with original box-pews and a three-decker pulpit set in a single rectangular space with no division between nave and chancel. The furnishings are often described as being in the Churchwarden school of gothic.

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The pulpit, the top of the three-decker seems central to the chapel-like interior, the ceilings have gothic ribs and biblical texts hang on each side of the altar. The only leaning towards modernity is the organ (not shown) which fills the west wall.


A most interesting gravestone, which was recently brought inside the church to protect it from the weather, is that belonging to Anthony Robinson, a blacksmith of Fountains. His epitaph reads -
'Here lieth Anthony Robinson late of Fountaines
who died May the first 1756 Aged 81
My Hammer and stiddy lies declin'd,
My bellows too, has lost their wind,
My fire extinguish'd - my forge (decayed)
And in the dust my vice is laid.
My coals is spent, my iron gone,
My last nail driven, my work is done.'


Map reference  :  

Photographs by kind permission of John Hawes
©2003 John Hawes

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This site has been constructed by, and remains the copyright of, its authors,
Edwin and Sheila Macadam,

Shelwin, 30, Eynsham Road, Botley,
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© July 2001 -