THANK you for including St Peter’s Parish Church, Stainforth, in your “Name That Church” feature.

Stepping Stones, a book published by the Stainforth History Group, says that in 1842 St Peter’s was built by the Dawson sisters with the help of others in the village. Until Victorian times residents of Stainforth, Langcliffe and Settle worshipped at St Alkelda’s, Giggleswick.

The sisters, Jane, Mary and Elizabeth Dawson of Marshfield House, Settle, were daughters of Richard, rector of Bolton by Bowland and the last of the Dawson squires of Halton Gill. The family made constant visits to Stainforth to follow “every detail of the work” on the church.

Three cottages with trees, crofts and sheepfolds were bought from James Foster and demolished to make way for St Peter’s. It is not known if the tenants, Messrs Hardacre, Metcalfe and Morphet, shared the Dawsons’ enthusiasm!

St Peter’s was built in the perpendicular style, similar to that of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, and “thoroughly improved” by John Knowles JP in 1873.

There are no pillars in the nave and the church is filled with natural light through the large windows. At its foundation only the east window contained stained glass but others were added as memorials. Perhaps the most striking is the west window marking “The Year of Our Lord 2000” as it includes representations of Stainforth Foss, Penyghent, the village stepping stones, a steam train and many animals. Pristine brass plaques commemorate those who died in the Great War.

In 1842 music was led by a bass fiddle and cantors. Expenses for strings and sticks for the fiddle were recorded until a harmonium was installed in the 1860s. In 1986 the vicar, the Rev John Potter, supervised the installation of a pipe organ. A kitchen and toilet were added in 2016.

St Peter’s is open every day and many visitors comment about the well-kept churchyard. On sunny days villagers Ronnie and Margaret Chapman, who recently celebrated their diamond wedding, tend the churchyard with some help now from Sarah Handy.

The pandemic has adversely affected the precarious nature of rural churches and St Peter’s is looking to the next generation to step up to the plate.

Stephen Dawson,

Priest-in-Charge, Langcliffe with Stainforth and Horton