Monday, April 30, 2012

The Parish Church of the Holy Trinity, Skipton

The Parish Church of the Holy Trinity in Skipton, UK, is a rather unassuming building from the outside, looking like a lot of other churches dating back hundreds of years.

Holy Trinity Church, Skipton

Originally built circa 1300, additions and refinements were made throughout the centuries. King Richard III donated £20 in 1483 contributing to the chancel and the oak roof. The church tower and roof were damaged during the bombardment of Skipton Castle in 1645. Lady Anne Clifford, Countess of Pembroke, had the damaged tower repaired in 1655, along with restoring the stolen church bells and repairing the Clifford tombs inside the church (her family, after all). The church was struck by lightning several times: twice on the tower in 1766 and 1853 and once on the north transept in 1925, all requiring repairs to the roof and some internal fixtures, including the organ.

After a visit to the loo (which was cramped and cold--Jacob was undaunted in his desire to try it out anyway) and a peek into the refectory where tea and such is served, we came back into the main body of the church. The children instantly gravitated to the play area, which included a short video on the history of the church.

The bear tried out all the different chairs

We went down the main aisle and saw the paschal candle and the organ.

The nave of the church

Jacob with the paschal candle

The organ

The organ was completely rebuilt in 1966 using the pipes from the 1866 organ (presumably the only survivors of the 1925 lightning-induced fire).

Nearby is the Royal Coat of Arms of King George III, dated 1798. Since the Reformation, it was customary to put the Royal Coat of Arms in churches.

George III's Coat of Arms

We continued to the main altar.

Main altar

The Reredos has Christ in Majesty surrounded by symbols of the four evangelists. The side statues are of the Virgin Mary, Sts. Peter and Paul, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Stephen, and St. James the Great.

The Lady Chapel is off to the right.

The Lady Chapel

In between is the tomb of George, Third Earl of Cumberland, from 1654 (another contribution from Lady Anne Clifford, who was his daughter). The tomb is especially striking with all the coats of arms on it.

By the main altar

Tomb of George, 3rd Earl of Cumberland

The church also has many amazing stained glass windows.

Sts. John and Stephen

St. Michael and the Dragon

Presentation of the Lord in the Temple

At the back of the church is the baptismal font. The stone font dates from the 1300s and the elaborate three-tiered top is from Jacobean times.

The top could be raised and lowered by ropes; here it is raised

We also found a small representation of Cavalry (since we were visiting during Easter week, it was not so surprising).

Cavalry with empty tomb

The back or western window was also a nice example of stained glass.

Dedicated to those who died in World War I

Off to the side, we noticed a little sign describing a discovery of the 1909 restoration: an anchorite's cell.

Note the small window behind the flowers

The sign reads:
Anchorite's Cell: In the Middle Ages an Anchorite (a man or woman who has withdrawn from the world to meditate and pray) lived in a cell attached to the church. The cell would be blocked up after the Anchorite entered and she or he remained there for life, spending the time in prayer and in offering advice and wisdom to visitors. A small window admitted light and food and gave a view of the church's altar. This is quite likely such a cell, and was revealed in 1909 during restoration work and the building of new vestries. The challenge to spend time apart from the world to meditate and pray is just as important a challenge for us today, even if we can only manage a few minutes...
Back outside, we ran into the town crier, who was about to do his duty at the town market on Skipton's High Street. He was glad to pose with Jacob, though Lucy was not at all interested in posing with him.

Skipton's Town Crier, sheltering from the rain for a little bit

The visit to the church was a great experience. Since we were in Skipton, we visited the Craven Museum again, though that is a story for tomorrow's blog post.

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