History and Heritage
In 1869 St Thomas’ Church was built to replace an existing church situated within the village. Consecrated in 1871 history was made by this being one of the first to be built on cast iron pillars. Initiated and financially supported by the Staffurth family, it is a typical Victorian building, using yellow brick, with unusual coloured tucked mortar joints on interior walls. The walls remain original, bearing no paint or plaster and the very high pitched slate roof provides wonderful acoustics . Stained glass windows feature Christ (above the alter) flanked by depictions of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John at either side of the alter. Behind the alter there are four paintings by an unknown artist, each depicting an angel with a musical instrument, (possibly painted on leather). There is also an outstanding window dedicated to St Thomas.
The bell tower once housed a single bell, cast by the Whitechapel bell foundry in 1869, which was removed for safety reasons and can now be viewed within the church, a credit to past craftsmanship.
A beautiful grey marbled War Memorial plaque serves as a reminder of local servicemen. For such a small parish, early church registers, surprisingly record numerous weddings and christenings taking place regularly on a monthly basis, with the occasional funeral.
Over the passage of time, damp conditions relevant to our area caused the cast iron pillars to corrode, leading the architect to declare the building unsafe. 1969 saw the closure of St Thomas’ Church.
Following extensive fundraising, crucial work was carried out beneath the building, enabling the church to reopen in September 1971. In 1995 further fund raising saw the replacement of the original pipe organ.
The new vicarage built in 1870 replaced the original vicarage, which in1871 then became the school master’s house, in preparation for the school built in1872, as part of the whole project. These three buildings remain today, with different functions. Our churchyard, however, remains open.
St Thomas’ is well worth a visit; though with a plain exterior, once inside you will be pleasantly surprised by the colourful, peaceful and welcoming spirit that lies within its walls.