Welcome to the Brierley Village Web site

Pronounced as "bry"-"early"

Introducing the work of Brierley and its people in photographs (Baipip)

Brierley is a small village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire England

This web site is kindly hosted by me-too. net and is intended for your enjoyment. However if you find any article offensive please email and it will be removed at once

Please email your comments on this web site and any requests to Gary (see email link below)

Introduction to this website

View the statistics for this website

Your contribution

 Local links

Old newspaper cuttings

Search the Brierley Village website

Email this website

Local news stories

Home page
Ask Richard
Facts about Brierley
Photographs on line
Index to the Baipip photograph archives
Your Email
People Search
Where R U Now
Local Services
Local Organisations
Local History Archives









 John Steele 2007

Written for the Brierley Village web site







Photography by Baipip



Part 3

     The Priors of Nostell could well afford to maintain Felkirk because during the years following the acquisition many gifts of land in and around Felkirk were made by the successive landowners such as the de Montbegons the de Scafton’s and de Hodrode’s. One of the last mentioned having the word “Knight” as a suffix to his name. However, the 13th century saw the enlarging of churches throughout Europe as a sort of religious fervour to the glory of God., each one trying to be larger or more eye-catching than its neighbour in the beauty of its design.

     The building of churches did not stop the continual wars that occurred in Europe, including England, as ultimate power was the objective of all the kings who ruled their domains. In this country in 1280, Edward the first subdued the rebellious Welsh and no sooner had he done this when trouble broke out with the Scots, which meant that he had to march north and collect his army on the way. Thus Sir Walter Burton, Knight of Kinsley was informed that he and men and arms would be needed for the battles in Scotland. Being a religious person and rich he decided that a chantry chapel should be built onto Felkirk church in order that the community should go and pray for him and his men every day whilst they were away fighting. So in 1285 the chapel was built on to the outside of the south wall and becomes the first major change to the structure. It could not have been more than 8 or 10 feet wide or long but in the interior was an alter and built into the wall can still be seen the piscine where holy water was disposed of after communion. There was also a carved hood and basin but unfortunately the chisel marks are all that remains of this lovely piece of architecture. The section of the basin complete with the drain hole and built into the wall can still be seen (see photograph right).

     Throughout Western Europe the building and enlarging of churches reached new heights during the second half of the 13th century and St Peter’s was no exception as the Priors of Nostell decided that an aisle should be added to the south side of the church incorporating the chantry chapel. The south wall of the nave was demolished almost to the eaves and an arcade of three old English style arches replaced it (see photograph below). At the east end of this arcade a section of outer wall still remains to be seen as it was built using the herring bone pattern of masonry known as the Anglo Saxon style of stonework. This was followed by the new outer wall and roof. The line of which can be clearly seen above the lancet window at the west end on the outside of the aisle. The corbelles, which supported the timber of the original roof at the eaves, were left in place so the art of the early stonemasons can still be seen on faces on the ends of each one. Could these carvings of a person with his tongue out, one with a neatly trimmed beard and moustache, another rather grotesque face and a fourth, who must be gurning, be studies of the masons who built the south aisle or was it the fashion of that period to carve them as a joke for posterity?

     It is also possible that there were three windows in the new wall of the style popular in the 13th century with a semi-circular head stone topping a space perhaps two feet wide and three feet deep divided by a perpendicular mullion and probably one or two horizontal glazing bars. The reason being is that glass in sheets was of a poor quality and difficult and expensive to manufacture. But by the same means artificial light in the form of candles was also expensive and not environmentally friendly due to the burning animal fats from which candles were made. Rush lights were no better; as they too had to be dipped before they could burn and produce light. Thus we have the reason why there are more windows on the south side of a church than on the north side as this was the main source of lighting the interior for many centuries.

     The original door to the church would have been dismantled and used to fit into the opening in the new wall. It is not known whether it was a heavy single door of oak planks or possibly a double opening door but whichever type it was it was decided that it should have a porch built over it as this was becoming the regular practise at this time. A church was the largest building, apart from a castle, in any parish and consequently everyone went there not only to practise religion but also to meet and talk to friends and relatives, neighbours and the nobility. There were also notices and byelaws etc to be read by those who could read and someone to read to those who could not – a crier. Baptisms, weddings, funerals were also discussed at the church door along with the parish tithes and allotment of lands for the following year all of these whatever the weather so as one can guess a porch was a blessing for those who got into its shelter. St Peter’s porch is not overlarge (see photograph below right) but it is a very substantial addition to the building and is quite unique in that the roof is of carved stone slabs laid upon chamfered stone ribs and supported on the sidewalls, which in turn are buttressed to give the added support to the very heavy roof.

     The jambs have each a hole and a groove cut into them into which poles could be fitted forming a barrier to animals that grazed in the churchyard. The main door in situ is obviously modern and was perhaps hung during the restoration of 1875 but the jambs on each side show signs of erosion by weather so it is fair to assume that they supported the original door a long time before the porch was built. Note the 18th century graffiti initialled by the ‘artist’ on the left hand jamb.

     About this time it was decided that the chancel, which was narrower than the present one, should have a sacristy built on to it at the northeast corner. This was duly completed following the style of the porch - heavy stone slabs and the roof supported by short stone walls buttressed as those on the porch. The interior is completely different there are no visible ribs and the ashlar slabs are laid in a tunnel vault style end to end to form a ceiling. There is a window on the north end and a door opened onto the sanctuary at the south end. This is the door that exists today with much later fittings and repairs. This seems to be the conclusion of the first phase in the enlargement of the church, which would have taken a few years to complete. There are no records available so everything has to be assessed by the architectural style e.g. Anglo Saxon, Old English, Perpendicular, Tudor and etc with which to give an approximate date that a certain section was built. However, give or take fifty years is, I think, reasonable.


Back to Top of Page