Undisturbed by Victorian hands: St James’ Church, Midhopestones

St James' Church, Midhopestones, South Yorkshire

St James’ Church, Midhopestones, South Yorkshire

The best-known example of an English church that was not modernised by Victorian restorers is St Mary’s Church, Whitby, but there are others if you know where to find them.

One such is St James’ Church, Midhopestones on the road between Sheffield and Penistone in South Yorkshire.

This tiny place of worship goes back to the Middle Ages, when the Lord of the Manor, Robert de Barby, whose residence was on the site of the present-day Midhope Hall Farm, converted his private chapel into a barn and replaced it with what became St James’ Church, c1368.

It served both as a private chapel and a chapel of ease to save local people trekking ten miles each way to the parish church at Ecclesfield.

Sometime in the seventeenth century an enormous Jacobean pulpit was installed for Puritan preaching, high enough for the priest to look out of the church window.

George Bosville, who became Lord of the Manor in 1690, undertook the only significant modernisation in 1705 when he rebuilt the east and west walls, built the porch and bell cupola and installed the box pews and west gallery that remain.

The Diocesan Architect, George Pace, installed a new roof in 1959, and further gentle alterations were made when St James’ became part of Penistone parish in 1978.  This involved lowering the pulpit and removing the front row of box pews, using the wood to make internal doors and a desk and chair for the minister.

Otherwise, St James’ remains very much as it has for three hundred years.

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