Ancient Monuments

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Old Church of St Thomas Becket, 210m north east of Daisy Field Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Heptonstall, Calderdale

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Latitude: 53.7489 / 53°44'55"N

Longitude: -2.0216 / 2°1'17"W

OS Eastings: 398670.496756

OS Northings: 428055.845375

OS Grid: SD986280

Mapcode National: GBR GTB2.3W

Mapcode Global: WHB8D.X1HC

Entry Name: Old Church of St Thomas Becket, 210m north east of Daisy Field Farm

Scheduled Date: 10 October 1980

Last Amended: 24 September 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016948

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29954

County: Calderdale

Civil Parish: Heptonstall

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Heptonstall St Thomas a Becket and St Thomas the Apostle

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument includes the standing and buried remains of the Old Church of
St Thomas Becket. The church stands in the same churchyard as, and
approximately 60m north east of, its successor which was built between 1850
and 1854.
The original church was founded in 1260 as a chapelry of St Pancras Priory
in Lewes. The building was severely damaged during a storm in 1847 when the
outer face of the west wall of the tower fell away. Although the damage was
repaired it was decided to build a new church which was opened in 1854. The
old church was partly dismantled but the shell left standing.
The original church was aisleless with a simple nave and chancel and a squat
tower. Of this date only the lower portion of the tower remains. In the 14th
century the aisles and southern porch were added but many of the surviving
remains date to the 15th century when extensive alterations took place. At
this time the chancel was rebuilt with flanking chapels and a belfry stage was
added to the tower. The tower arch was also raised and the tower itself was
The church, which is Listed Grade II*, is built in gritstone and survives up
to roof height in most places, although the roof itself is missing. The north
aisle is approximately 9m wide, almost as wide as the nave itself, with a
chapel at its eastern end. The arcade piers separating the aisle from the nave
are octagonal in plan with decoration of squares and circles at the top. The
southern aisle is approximately 3m wide but with similar arcade piers. The
central body of the church is approximately 8m wide. The tower, which is
approximately 7m square, has a rectangular stair turret to its south east with
a castellated top and perpendicular windows. The floor of the church is paved
with a selection of 17th and 18th century tombstones.
All modern sign posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath these is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and
containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for
Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on
Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated
into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in
its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and
are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides
accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the
priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes
provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional
altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west
end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon
and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish
churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south
or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation
were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were
rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of
the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little
fabric of the first church being still easily visible.
Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the
density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed
settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest
clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of
1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New
churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to
around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches
have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for
their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later
population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour
and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are
identified to be nationally important.

The standing and buried remains of the medieval church of St Thomas Becket,
Heptonstall are well preserved, despite the partial dismantling which took
place in the 19th century. Because the church fell out of use in the 19th
century there have been none of the usual 19th and 20th century disturbances
of sub-surface archaeological features for the installation of heating systems
or drains. This has provided a rare context for the preservation of important
archaeological deposits. The documented and unusual history of the site is
particularly important in understanding the medieval and subsequent settlement
of the village and its status within the wider medieval and post-medieval

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ryder, P, Medieval Churches of Yorkshire, (1988)
Anon. text in SMR file, Old Church of St Thomas A Becket, Heptonstall, (1988)

Source: Historic England

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