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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Local History


Parish Priest: If you would like to discuss matters such as marriages or christenings, please contact the Parish Priest, Fr Peter Walker, OGS on 01977 672772.

Sunday 10.45am - Holy Communion (Common Worship)
Thursday 10.00am - Holy Communion (Common Worship)

St Andrew's Church, Ferrybridge

Dedicated to St. Andrew, the church originates from Norman times having been first built in approximately 1030.  Located on Pontefract Road, Ferrybridge, its current position belies the fact that the Church was rebuilt there, stone by stone, in the early 1950's..  Its original location was at a distance from the residential area of the village and standing close to a marsh where willows for basket making were grown it would suffer from frequent flooding during the winter months making it unusable.  An inscription in the porch records that on November 17, 1866, water rose to a level of three feet within the church.

In 1350, the Church was rebuilt leaving only the porch and a few feet of wall on either side of it as a reminder of the original construction.  The year 1879 saw some extensive alterations to the Church which unfortunately obliterated most of the remains of the Norman and early English sections but there still remains much to interest the visitor.

During the Church's relocation in the early 1950's it was remodeled with the porch being moved to the opposite side, a feature which is clearly visible in the two photographs below.  It was traditional for Churches to be constructed with the longest walls orientated east to west, with the altar facing towards the east, though not all Churches followed this design. In order to provide access out onto the main road from the front of the building, the reconstruction of the Church  resulted in the porch having to be relocated on the opposite wall.

The original location of the church together with its current location can be seen clearly on the accompanying map.

Click here to view a larger image of this map

The church expense account for the year 1945-46 shows that the New Church Fund stood at 700. 4s and during the Second World War when the church was closed the church council purchased land on which to build a new church.  The Reverend C. H. Branch however was in favour of dismantling the ancient church and rebuilding it in the middle of Ferrybridge.  The patrons of the church, the Dean and Chapter of York, agreed. Not everyone was sympathetic with the idea including the bishops of Wakefield and Pontefract but the relocation of the old church was eventually settled.

The last act of worship on the old site was Evensong on Easter Sunday in 1952, the last service proper being the marriage of Miss Winifred Gilligan and Mr. Edward Walker.  As they left the church workmen were already lowering stones from the church tower.  The labour was undertaken by an old Knottingley family of stonemasons, H and H Fairburn and was financed by diocesan grants and public donations.  Stones were not numbered as they were moved to the new site and frequent alterations to the design of the church had to be made.

Working on Ferrybridge Church Ferrybridge Church
The church as it was
Consecration of Ferrybridge Church
Work in progress The day of consecration

Photographs reproduced with the permission of Colin Ormesher

Although the church was not entirely complete, it was reconsecrated on September 12, 1953 and was recorded in its entirety by the BBC.  On the Sunday, communion was celebrated by the bishop of Wakefield and in the afternoon the first christening took place, that of the infant son of Mr. and Mrs. E. Walker, the last couple to be married in the old church some 17 months earlier.  A feature of the church was the new Lectern which was crafted by world famous carpenter Robert 'mousey' Thompson. Robert Thompson was born in Yorkshire and became famous for his trademark carving of a mouse, which became a feature of his work.

The original grounds of St. Andrew's, fell into disrepair for many years and the graveyard became the target of much vandalism.  This was reported and publicised in local newspapers in the late 1980's with the result that renovation and groundwork was carried out to restore the area.

C. Forest, in his book of 1871, entitled 'The History and Antiquities of Knottingley, gives a delightful description of the location of the Church.

" approached from Ferrybridge through an avenue of fine old willows, gradually disclosing the view as the visitor advances.  It's situation is most lonely and secluded ; closed in by the wooded grounds of Fryston Hall behind, and from the view in front by high rampart of the North Eastern Railway, which runs close to its hallowed precinths.  There is an air of solemn stillness about the venerable pile, well suited for ' lonely contemplation', but rudely broken by the scream and rattle of the train as it rushes past"

Ferry Fryston Church Ferrybrideg Church in its new location

[above] Two views of St. Andrew's Church, showing its original and present location
Clearly seen is the fact that the porch has been relocated on the opposite wall


Saint Andrew

"As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed him." (Matthew 4:18-20)

Andrew left behind his career as a fisherman to follow Jesus of Nazareth and to preach the Christian message. It is believed Andrew died around the year 60 AD, being crucified in a place called Patras in Achaia on a cross in an X shape, hence the St Andrew's cross on the flag of Scotland.

It is said that a little-known Scottish saint called Rule or Regulus took Andrew's bones from Patras to Scotland in the 8th century. He stopped in what is now called St Andrew's in Fife and built a church dedicated to the saint there.

The bones of St Andrew are said to have journeyed north through England and Scotland, from Canterbury to Rochester to Hexham to Scotland. It would be nice to think that his bones, en route to Hexham, passed through Ferrybridge over 1300 years ago, just as traffic and travellers still pass through Ferrybridge as they head north on the A1. Who knows?

St Andrew is remembered by the Church in its calendar on 30th November.

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We extend our appreciation to Colin Ormesher for allowing us to reproduce the above information.


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