Stanton on the Wolds
All Saints


The Domesday Survey (1086) does not record that Stanton on the Wolds at that time possessed either a priest or a church. According to the Torre manuscript, the rectory is ancient, belonging to the patronage of the Stoke, Lymar and Widmerpole families; then to the Cliftons and thence to the Swillingtons and from them back to the Cliftons again. The first rector was appointed by Sevig. de Stoke in 1280.

There is no evidence for when the first church was built. The earliest fabric is fourteenth century. The first known fiscal reference to a church at Stanton on the Wolds is in the Nonae Roll of 1341, when it was taxed at 5 marks. In 1535, the Valor Ecclesiasticus valued the rectory at Stanton on the Wolds at the clear yearly sum of £2 13s 3½d. The Parliamentary Commission of 1650 valued the rectory at forty pounds per annum.

According to pre-Reformation wills preserved at York, the church was formerly dedicated to St John the Baptist. Later, the church was allowed to deteriorate. Throsby, who visited the church about the year 1795, said:

It is below description, and is of all others, within and without, the most despicable place I ever be-held.

Stretton's drawing of the churchStretton, who visited Stanton on the Wolds in 1815, made a drawing of it He considered that the style of the church was of the very lowest order of ecclesiastical buildings. He described its general character as a small nave, leaded and open to the timbers, a larger chancel, tiled, also open, a small cupola steeple with only one small bell, the way to which was over the roof of the church, a recess being cut in the wall for the rope. The nave and chancel were of one piece, The nave was 24 feet long and 15 feet 6 inches wide with a leaded roof. The inside was newly pewed, and contained only ten pews. The walls had been recently whitewashed and written with scripture passages. The rough stone floor was very bad. The walls of the church and chancel were built with boulders plastered over. The chancel had a roof like a barn, open to the tiles. It measured 27 feet by 15 feet. There was a plain piscina in the south wall, and an aumbry on the north side of the communion. Stretton's drawing of the fontHe made a drawing of the font, which, he said, was plastered over with mortar, being in one stone with rude columns and intersecting circular arches round it. The church had a north and south door. The chancel was separated from the church by a partition and a deal door to keep out the cold. Stretton's drawing of a chancel windowStretton also made a drawing of the fourteenth century window in the south wall of the chancel.

In 1830, restoration work was carried out in order to re-open the church. However, still on his visit in 1869, Glynne noted that the church, which by this date had been re-dedicated to All Saints, was small and poor, consisting of a nave and chancel only with a mean bellcot over the west end, the whole being in very poor condition. The walls were plastered. There was no chancel arch, but a kind of plaster division to the chancel, and some of the walls seemed to have been rebuilt. The south west window of the chancel was Decorated of two lights, but much mutilated. That at the north west was a plain slit. Another on the north was of two lights, with the mullion destroyed. There were no windows on the north of the nave and those on the south were miserably mutilated.

In 1872 again, Captain A E Lawson-Lowe described the church as a very humble edifice, consisting merely of a nave and chancel with a small mean gable-topped bell turret, of a far more recent date than the remainder of the church. In the bell turret was a small bell, but there was no available opening to the turret. The whole fabric was built of small rubble of the very roughest description, the only hewn stones being at the angles and round the windows and doorways. The outside had been thickly coated with coarse plaster, but this had been removed from the north and east sides of the chancel. The nave appeared to have undergone much alteration, and from the fact of its being of smaller size than the chancel had, perhaps, been partly destroyed. It had no windows on the north side, and but two on the south, -neither of these being, of ancient construction, one being of Palladian design, and the other of a square form with a plain chamfered mould-ing; the position of the latter being immediately above the south door. There were both north and south doorways, but the former was then filled with masonry. The east window of the chancel was externally the best feature of the church, and was in the early Decorated style. The chancel had two other windows: a small lancet on the north side, and a larger two light window, in the early Decorated style, on the south. No traces of other windows remained. The interior was poor and mean. The nave had been entirely partitioned off from the chancel by a screen of plain boarding. Both nave and chancel had low plaster ceilings, and the walls were thickly coated with colour wash. In the chancel, there was a plain piscina and an aumbry. The font had been sadly mutilated, and stood barely two feet from the church floor. The sides exhibited arched panelling and the bowl was of a circular form and was lined with lead. On the north wall of the nave were painted the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Creed, and below them, in a compartment, the name and date “Joseph Page, Churchwarden, 1830.” (It was the custom to elect only one churchwarden for the parish.) The creed was painted on the south wall.

Godfrey's drawing of the churchGodfrey, writing about 1887, stated that the fabric of the church remained in almost the same condition as when visited by Stretton in 1815, excepting that the nave roof was now slated and the floors of the nave and chancel were laid with bricks. He made a drawing. The nave had no windows on the north side, and only two small ones on the south side. There had been both north and south doorways, but the former had been walled up with brickwork. The three light east window of the chancel, in the Early Decorated style, was externally the principal feature of the church, although the upper part of the tracery was filled up with brickwork. The chancel had two windows: a small single lancet and a small double lancet on the north side; and a two-light window in the Decorated style at the western end of the south side. Internally the nave was still entirely partitioned off from the chancel by a plain boarded screen. The nave and chancel had low plaster ceilings, both having been made since Stretton’s visit. The piscina and aumbry remained, but he confirmed that the font, featured in Stretton’s drawing, had been sadly mutilated and stood barely two feet high from the church floor.

In 1889, Mrs Harriet Robertson of Widmerpool Hall paid £400 to completely restore the church. The bell turret was rebuilt. A further window was inserted in the chancel at the eastern end of the south wall. Buttresses were built to support the leaning walls. A successful appeal, to save the ivy-covered church from closure, allowed repair work to be carried out in 1951. In 1977, churchwarden Philip Attewell contrived with the architect, Vernon Royle, to add a vestry at the western end of the north wall. It was built in the same fashion as the earlier stonework, using stones gathered from the fields by the children and farmers. The old north doorway was re-opened. The crumbling fourteenth century window in the south wall of the chancel was repaired in 1992.

The parish registers date from 1736.