A tenth century Anglican cross, restored and re-erected by the chancel arch, takes the church history back to before the Norman Conquest when Burton was a chapelry with the Parish of Dewsbury.

The main body of the present church belongs to the early 13th century but the first record of an actual building here is in a charter of 1147 and the south east wall of the nave includes masonry from an older structure.

The tower is two centuries later. The west doroway, a fine example of the 13th century Early English Style, was evidently re-set when the Perpendicular Style tower was built.

The chancel, north aisle, clerestory windows and south porch were constructed in the 19th century. The organ chamber, vestry and north porch date from 1907.

The nave has a good, late-medieval ceiling with moulded beams and bosses and many of the pews date from the 16th and 17th century: one near the eagle lectern is dated 1584.

In the north aisle, on the site of the former chantry chapel dedicated to St Mary, is a modern display case made by Thompsons of Kilburn, an Elizabethan, double sized reading desk and perhaps a little later in date, the parish chest.

In the south aisle the east window of the restored chapel of St Nicholas includes fragments of Medieval glass. The plain, octagonal, 13th century font has an elaborate modern cover designed by Sir Charles Nicholson.

The chancel, largely rebuilt in 1870, preserves parts of the original structure including the huge, recessed piscina and an unusual feature for a country church, the ambulatory, or walking space behind the altar which was restored in 1907. The walls have memorials to the Horsfall family of Storthes Hall.

By the priest’s door, in the north wall, a small rectangular window is believed to have opened from the cell of a recluse who is recorded, in the Archbishop of York’s Register for 1293, as living by the side of this church .


The first, Richard De Birstall, is believed to have been appointed in the 1180s. Henry Suthill served the church for 56 years throughout the Reformation. The wife of Gamaliel Whitaker is said to have been murdered by Parliamentary soldiers during the civil war. He was dragged off to gaol and died a few weeks later. Joseph Briggs served the church for a remarkable 65 years. His successor, Robert D’Oyley is reputed to have visited the church only three times in his 39 years as vicar.

copyright - ROBERT A CARTER, 24th November 2001

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