There has been a church on this site in Leck since 1610, the first being a tiny single storey building with no tower. This would have been the building that was too small for both the congregation and the girls of the Clergy Daughters School before it was expanded in 1825 and a small tower added. The Brontë sisters became pupils at the school which was moved from Leck to Casterton in 1834 and still exists today. A much larger church and tower was built in 1879 by Paley & Austin but unfortunately much of this was burned down in 1913 as a result of a lamp which was left burning after organ practice which ignited a curtain. As the church was over-insured the current church, number 4, was quickly re-built by Potts & Co. of Leeds and a spire was added. Most of the Victorian glass survived the fire and has been retained. A few years later a very fine Harrison & Harrison organ was added. There are ‘fever’ graves in the churchyard and for the years 1820-1829 and 1840-1849 records show that 50% of all deaths were of children under 10. The cause of death was often ‘consumption’ or ‘scrophulus’ (i.e. tuberculosis).
Information taken from the booklet Leck, Cowan Bridge and The Brontës by Alan R Wellburn, and reproduced with the author’s permission.
St. Wilfrid’s Church, Melling is a Grade 1 listed building. The earliest fabric in the church dates from around 1300 or earlier but as it is near the earthworks of a motte-and-bailey castle, it is possible that a church has been on the site since the 10th century. Most of the present church dates from the late 15th Century with a restoration in 1763 when the clerestory was added and further restoration was carried out in the 19th century. A chapel known as the Morley Chapel was created as a chantry from a pre-existing chapel by John Morley who fought at Agincourt in 1415. It was restored as a chapel in 1994-95. The west window on the south aisle dates from around 1300. This window includes a fragment of medieval stained glass. The organ was built in 1891 by JW Walker of London.
It would appear that there has been a church on this site for at least a thousand years, although most of the present building dates back to the fifteenth century and was much restored in the nineteenth.
The church is built on the first high ground above the flood plain of the River Wenning, just north of a river crossing. There is some evidence that a stone built church existed before the Norman Conquest of 1066. Unfortunately almost nothing now remains of that Anglian building, although the small blocked window in the porch would appear to come from this time. It can also be inferred from the Domesday Book (1086) that a church building existed on this site. In later Norman times the church possibly became a chapel of ease to St Wilfrid, Melling, perhaps served by monks from Cockersands Abbey.
By the 1880’s the church had become dilapidated. The Revd Arthur Wellesley Foster took a leading part in the subsequent major restoration. The sons of William M Foster of Hornby Castle fulfilled their father’s wishes to restore the church after his death and work was undertaken at a cost of £3,269.
Source: A History and Guide, on sale in the church for £2
There has been a church in Tatham Fells on this site in the hills above Lancaster since at least 1577 and possibly considerably earlier. The present building designed by the Lancaster firm of Paley and Austin dates from 1887-88 and cost £1,200 to construct. Pevsner observed in 1969 that “the two arches of the tower create a dignity beyond the scale of the building. The roofs with their windbraces are a pleasure too.”
Most of the fabric and furniture dates from this rebuilding though the stained glass windows, the lectern and the lychgate were added soon afterwards either by local families or by subscription. A few things date from the earlier period: a window on the south side of the sanctuary, the bishop’s chair, the altar rails, the plaques containing the Ten Commandments and Apostle’s Creed at the west end of the Church, and, in the vestry, the old font. The George III coat of arms has been restored and re-hung.
The Church and the community were almost identical so it is fitting in a sheep-farming area that it is dedicated to The Good Shepherd, a fact to which the East window by Shrigley and Hunt, also of Lancaster, bears witness.
A church at Tunstall is recorded in the Domesday survey but the oldest structure in the present church dates from the 13th century. The church was rebuilt around 1415 by Sir Thomas Tunstal. Alterations were made in the 16th century and the church was restored in 1907. In the early 19th century the church was attended by the Brontë sisters during the time they were receiving education at the Clergy Daughters’ School at nearby Cowan Bridge.
A Roman votive stone has been built into the surround of a window in the north aisle. Under the tower arch is an 18th-century oval marble font on a sandstone balaster base. The east window contains glass from the Netherlands dating from the late 15th and 16th centuries. It was donated to the church in 1810 by Richard Toulmin North of nearby Thurland Castle. In the church are a number of memorials to the Fenwick family. The two-manual organ was built in 1923 by Harrison & Harrison.
Until the 19th Century the ancient village of Wray, settled and named by the Vikings one thousand years earlier, never had a church. The village was laid out as a model agricultural township in the 12th Century, but no church was built. The folk of Wray were obliged to walk three miles to the Parish Church of St Wilfrid at Melling.
The need for a church in the village became pressing as new trades and industries arrived at the beginning of the Victorian age, and as the population increased. Coal miners, hatters, wood-workers, nail makers, cloggers and quarrymen joined workers in the old occupations farm work and domestic service.
Edmund Sharpe of Lancaster designed the church building. Work started in 1839, and was completed the following year. The Bishop of Chester consecrated it on 1st July 1841. It was a plain, rectangular construction costing £700. The land was the gift of the Reverend Hoskins of Canterbury who had inherited farms in the district.
The best feature of the church is the oak rood screen dedicated to Charles Lavinson Reynolds. He served as Vicar for 43 years, retiring in 1920. It was made at the nationally famous Gillow furniture workshops of Lancaster, founded in the 18th Century. In 1936 friends and relatives erected it as his memorial.
Source: John Ryle