It is believed that the site of All Saints may have been consecrated as early as the 2nd century AD when Christianity first came to Britain. The earliest evidence of Christian worship are fragments of Anglian crosses, the oldest being dated at about 750 AD. These crosses will have been used as focal points for Christian gatherings before church buildings were erected.
The first church building on the site was Anglo Saxon but only the foundations still remain. A Norman church was built over those foundations during the 11th century, and this forms the present day chancel. It was enlarged in about 1240 by the addition of a wide nave, a north and south transept and a plain unbuttressed tower. Further additions and modifications took place during later centuries, including the magnificent stained-glass East Window in 1851.
Otley Parish Church Video by Julie Wilks
There is still much evidence of its history, both inside and outside the church, in the form of architectural features, memorials and artefacts. There is a full booklet of historical notes available at the back of the church but please take the brief tour below:-
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR AS YOU WALK AROUND, STARTING AT THE NORTH DOOR:
The paragraph numbers below relate to the numbers on the plan below.
- The arch over the North door dates to the 11-12th century and was originally part of the doorway out of the Chancel.
- Thomas Chippendale was baptized in this church but not in this font – sadly we have no examples of his work. The font was originally in what is now the Parish Room in an area which used to be the Baptistry.
- The oldest memorial, the Lindley/Palmes family tree which dates from 1593 is on the wall of the North transept, originally a private chapel established c1300 by the Lindleys. Bryan Palmes is buried here.
- The pulpit dates from 1740 and originally had three levels to it. John Wesley, originally an Anglican priest and founder of the Methodist church, preached from here. It is rumored that his horse is buried in the churchyard.
- This ornate memorial in the Chancel is in the style of an Easter Sepulchre and is dedicated to Walter and Maria Fawkes. There was a door behind here, for the priest to enter church, which was closed up c.1850 when the memorial was inserted.
- The two windows on either side of the altar are part of the original Norman chancel. The one to the right was rediscovered during the restoration of the mid 1860’s.
- The East window, behind the altar, was made by Pilkingtons of St Helens and installed by David Chippindale a local plumber, in 1852, at a cost of £150. Much of the stonework dates to 1495.
- The Dyneley tomb may not be that of John Dyneley of Bramhope as we thought. At least six other members of the family asked to be buried here in the Sanctuary.
- In 1793 an organ was placed in a gallery over the Chancel, then moved in 1851 to a gallery over what is now the Parish Room. The present organ was installed in 1903 by Abbot and Smith of Leeds, but the organ console here was refurbished and extended in 2015.
- This elaborate tomb is in memory of Sir Thomas and Lady Fairfax with whom he had 12 children. He was elected MP four times and served Queen Elizabeth 1st. He became a Baron during the reign of Charles 1st – it cost him £1500. The Saracens head indicates the involvement of the family in the Crusades.
- Some of the Saxon Cross fragments date to the 8th century. A replica cross was created and is used as the Otley War Memorial – it was originally placed in the churchyard and later moved to the Memorial Gardens near to the bus station. NOTE: The Saxon Cross fragments are currently in storage while we work on an dedicated heritage area to display them.
12. Otley Parish Church War Memorial is made of the finest Cararra marble from Italy and commemorates Otley men killed during the First World War. The architect was Oswald Holmes of Otley and it was donated by the Otley Town Council.