Friday 10 February 2023 was not the nicest day to be driving round the Dales, but as it is the first wet day we have had on a week’s holiday near Settle we can hardly complain. We stopped in Horton in Ribblesdale – not the easiest village to park in – and went to discover St Oswald’s church (SD 810721). It doesn’t have its own website, but there is a lot of information on the Parish Council website about the village – https://www.hortoninribblesdale.org.uk/st-oswalds-church. How nice that the page ends:
“The Church has always been an important centre for local life. The farmsteads of this exceptionally large parish lay some distance away from the church, but in the Middle-Ages everyone met here on Sundays, when news could be exchanged and corporate worship welded the community together. We hope the Church will continue to fulfil this function for present and future parishioners, and will provide a centre of welcome to visitors enjoying our beautiful countryside.”
Even on a wet, miserable day, it was a pleasure to visit. A Norman church, early C12, with a nice arch and a half-opening door (not sure I’ve ever seen one of those in a church porch and, yes, I should have dried the lens). Nice montage of photos too – good to show the place is alive. The tower is C14 or C15 – a later building phase which saw the church aisles added.
Through the C13 Horton was caught in the middle of a dispute between the rival monastic orders at Jervaulx and Fountains Abbey. The dispute stemmed from a 1220 transfer of property to the Fountains’ monks, which challenged the primacy of an earlier grant by Henry III to Jervaulx’s predecessors at Fors Abbey. This dispute was not settled until 1315 when Edward II confirmed the Abbot of Jervaulx as Lord of the Manor. Two hundred years later at the Dissolution the monks’ received an annual income of £32 and 5 shillings. No doubt some poor village cleric was caught in the middle of it all. In 1597 plague hit the area – the parish priest buried 74 people that year, as opposed to 17 in a normal year.
You did not get rich being Vicar of Horton. In 1716 the stipend was £12 a year; in 1769, £30 and by 1809 £40, out of which, there being no vicarage, the incumbent paid rent for his house and any land he required. However, the vicars frequently supplemented their incomes as schoolmasters, like John Carr (1712-1745) and William Paley (1769-1782) who were headmasters of Giggleswick Grammar School or like Dr Holden who was master of Horton Grammar School. I wonder if any of these clergy had props like these?
The church has a lot of material to interest the visitor, an area for the children, and spaces for prayer and reflection (we’re not long after Holocaust Memorial Day). And space to worship!
The font is rather lovely, a sturdy Norman font with herringbone pattern. I wonder how many village children have been baptised here?
I missed the oldest window. Here is the East window, and the view outside is lovely. I went outside and had a final wander in the rain!