“The architect said that the Chancel was in that state that a man could not tell whether it would stand ten years or ten hours”
In 1897 the building was in a poor state. The “new” (1500’s) extension had been built with no foundations. There are even reports that traces of turf were discovered under some of the walls. This part of the former churchyard, east of the older parts of the building, had been extensively used for burials and it appears that walls and pillars were erected on top with little regard to infilling these voids.
By the end of the 19th century, the east end of the church was in a state of collapse with the walls leaning to the south by a reported twelve inches. Without action, a collapse was imminent. In 1897, an architect was engaged who, having made the comment above, declared that no part of the church east of the pulpit should be used.
A period of inaction
Several meetings were held and resolutions made. Grants were promised by our Patrons, Christ Church in Oxford for up to £300 (a quarter of the estimated expenditure) but nothing further actually happened. The arrival of a new vicar, a relatively youthful Revd E.H.Morris, in 1899 resulted in another round of meetings and resolutions – and then all action seems to have stopped when Revd Morris set off to France for four months. On his return, he resigned his post. Edward Morris had a record of short incumbencies. From his ordination in 1887, aged 23, in the 12 years till he came to Kildwick, he had held six different posts. His two years with us continued this sad average.
The arrival in 1901 of another Edward, the Revd E. W.Brereton, saw the arrival of a more dynamic force. Before even his formal induction into the parish, new plans were made, a new faculty (“planning permission”) obtained and within three months work was begun.
The screen and chancel pews were removed and a wooden partition erected in front of the current line of pews in the nave. Props were installed, much of the roof removed and the floor excavated.
New concrete foundations were dug for the pillars, and foundation stones laid.
The removal of the plaster revealed large cracks that meant that much of the walls and pillars had to be rebuilt with new bases and new caps. It could truly be said that our “16th century East End” dates in reality to the early 20th century!
It was during this work that several Saxon cross fragments were discovered alongside old window tracery and an incised coffin lid. These were embedded into the walls above the arches. It is entirely reasonable to suppose that there are still more pieces of these crosses, buried in the walls but, unless the church suffers another major collapse, we will probably never know.
The repair work did not end there. The western arch was opened up and the bell ringers’ floor removed while a heating boiler (the same one as we are using now!) was installed, alongside a blower for the organ. The enormous Currer monument was removed and placed in its current spot in the north east corner and a new window built where it had been obscured. The “Eltoft Pew” was moved so that this area could become a functional Morning Chapel.
Many other works took place – several of which are detailed on other pages in this section. It remains significant that much of what we see in the church today owes its life to the work overseen by Edward Brereton.