This old village church
in Kirk Sandall is dedicated to St Oswald, the Anglo-Saxon
king of Northumbria. There is an old legend that his body
rested here, after his death in battle in the year 642.
We know that there was a church and village or hamlet here
in 1086 because it was written in the Doomsday Book. Some
features of the church date much earlier, from Anglo-Saxon
times. The hamlet consisted of a 'big house', a farm and
a cluster of cottages around the church. Most of the church
was built in the Norman period (11th - 12th century) and
it was only altered a little until the additions were made
in the Tudor period (16th century).
During that time the old village of Kirk Sandall had hardly
grown because its soil was sandy and hard to farm. The village
was quite poor and so the church was not enlarged or altered.
Little is known about the old village whose name means "sandy
place by a river with a church".
By the 1960s the old village of Kirk Sandall had virtually
disappeared. Pilkington's glass factory arrived in 1922
and the local farms, cottages and village school were gradually
demolished. A new village was built some distance away.
Plans were also made to demolish the church and use some
of its stone in a new church in the "new" village.
Fortunately there was much local opposition and a lack of
funds and so the old church survived.
The new village did get its new church and new church hall.
This made the old church redundant. In 1980 it was taken
over by The
Redundant Churches Fund, now known as The
Churches Conservation Trust. It cares for and maintains
the church so that this priceless gem can be preserved for
future generations to enjoy.
In 2015 a planning application was made to build 90+ homes
on the site of the Old Village. Building began in 2018 and
was completed in 2021. Although there are no plans to resume
using the building for regular worship St. Oswald’s
Church is once again at the centre of a community.
an information Leaflet
The Porch (1)
Enter the church by the porch which is Victorian. The door
inside is Norman.
The Nave (2)
As you enter the Nave, with its North and South aisles,
you are looking at an essentially Norman church. The large
windows were added in the 14th century to let more light
into quite a gloomy building. In Victorian times the roof
was replaced and raised. You can clearly see where the earlier
and lower roof was by studying the walls.
The Font (3)
To the left of the door you can see the font. This is where
baptisms took place. It is a simple round Norman Font.
The Piscina in the south wall indicates there was once
an alter here. The Piscina was for washing the Chalice and
Patten used for Holy Communion. Nearby, see the medieval
coffin slab with a cross on top. Two small Norman windows
can be seen clearly at either end of the south aisle.
Thomas Brown Monument (5)
On the opposite wall there is a monument to Thomas Brown
who died in 1840.
The Chancel (6)
As you cross into the Chancel you will pass through a lovely
oak screen. It was first used to screen the chapel to the
left from the rest of the church. The screen dates from
the 16th century, though some of the figures on it are later.
The Chancel itself was built in the 15th century. Here the
roof, the altar and the Piscina all date from the restoration
of the 1930s.
Look on the Chancel floor for the two grave slabs. They
commemorate past curate Jeremiah Waterhouse who died in
1698, and also members of the Fountain family.
The Rokeby Chapel (7)
The most famous part of the church lies in the north east
corner. In 1521, a once local priest called William Rokeby
decided to have most of his body (but not his heart!) buried
in the church. He was Rector here from 1487 - 1502. After
his time at Kirk Sandall, Rokeby went on to be the Vicar
of Halifax before becoming very famous. He was made Lord
Chancellor of Ireland and Archbishop of Dublin in 1512.
Rokeby left money in his will to build an furnish the chapel
in St Oswald's. The money provided the magnificent magnesian
limestone for the building, the beautiful Perpendicular
type architecture of the interior, the stained glass for
the windows and his own marble tomb. The wood in the chapel
comes from ireland, because William was Archbishop there.
Originally, there was a lovely east window here, but it
was blocked in by the monument you now see, and its precious
stained glass was placed in the windows on the north side
of the chapel.
William Rokeby Monument (8)
On the north wall of the chapel is the monument to William
Rokeby himself. It is made of marble but is badly eroded.
There is also a small brass to the Archbishop in the east
wall. A monument to another William Rokeby who died in 1662
is on the opposite south wall.
Thomas Rokeby Monument (9)
The large monument on the east wall of the chapel is for
the judge, Sir Thomas Rokeby, who won the favour of the
Dutch King of England, William III, and who died in 1699.
He wanted a "Modest Memorial" which this certainly
isn't! Look for the black bird, a raven on the monument.
This was a family emblem. There is a printed version of
the writing on the memorial close by and a portrait of Sir
The Rokeby's sold their Kirk Sandall estate to Sir John
Martin in 1776. You can see a record of his and his family's
burials on the chapel walls and floor.
While in the chapel, also look for the small but impressive
floor brasses commemorating the "Virtuous Matron"
Elizabeth Boucher who died in 1677 and Thomas Boucher who
died in 1658.
The outside of the church is very interesting. The low
tower is actually a Belfry. It holds a single bell made
in 1690. This tower dates only from the 1930s, when it was
built to replace an older Victorian tower which had become
unsafe. Look at the west end of the church for the small
Norman window and the stones arranged diagonally in a herringbone
pattern. These are probably even older Anglo-Saxon fragments
and were part of the earliest church on this site.
In the churchyard you will see the remains of a medieval
cross near the door. Near the Rokeby chapel is the tomb
of George Willey who was village schoolmaster for no less
than 70 years.