The misericords and history of St Mary's, Sprotborough

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medieval misericords misericord misericorde misericordes Miserere Misereres choir stalls mittelalterlichen Miserikordie Chorgestühl.  středověké miserikordie. miséricordes médiéval.  middeleeuwse misericords.  Misericordia misericordias.  Misericordia medievale
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UK Non-Cathedrals

North

Sprotborugh

History of St Mary’s, Sprotborough, Yorkshire

The earliest record of St Sprotborough, as so often, is the Domesday Book, which in 1086 mentions not only the Sprotborough of the time, but also shows that it existed in Edward the Confessor’s time, which indicates that there must have been a church in Saxon times, although due to the Norse invaders, this was probably not until the last half of the 10th century.

The present church was started in 1173, this was almost certainly a nave church with a small chancel.  In the late 13th century, it was decided to enlarge the chancel - peculiarly this meant that it became wider than the nave and almost as long as the nave.  The width meant that external buttressing was needed, which came back to haunt them in later years.

In the early 14th century, the chancel arch was replaced, and a south aisle was added, this was the first run-in with the chancel buttress -if you look at the east wall of the south aisle, you can clearly see where the chancel buttress has been incorporated within the wall structure.  The north aisle was almost certainly built later than the south, and although less visible, the same problem was encountered with the chancel buttress, however the capitals are less well defined than those of the south, which may indicate a lack of funding.

Sometime in the second half of the 14th century, the aisles and nave were lengthened by one bay and the tower was added.  Either at this point, or in the early 15th century the, now, heavily defaced misericords were installed - their date is quite a mystery, as you’ve probably notice, they do not have supporters, which would indicate that they are earlier, rather than later, however the only relatively (70 miles) nearby example of misericords without supporters are those from St Peter’s, Bolton-le-moors, which date from the 15th century. The reason for the misericord’s defacement is unknown as well - the subject matter, where it is still visible, does not seem to be of a nature to cause offence either during the reformation or during the English civil war when parliamentarians were billeted in nearby Rotherham, in fact, it is believed that the frith stool, now situated in the chancel, was buried by the locals to prevent its damage during the civil war, so I assume that they would have tried to protect the misericords as well.

Around about 1470 the top stage of the tower was removed and replaced, and the vestry was added -  this appears to have started off life as a 2 storey affair, with the ground floor being a chapel dedicated to St Nicholas, and the first floor, possibly, being used either a living space for a priest or as a schoolroom.

The early 16th century brought massive change, the original steeply pitched roofs of the chancel, nave and aisles were removed, and a clerestory was installed, the roofs were then reinstalled with the much shallower pitch then in vogue.  The change of pitch caused the east window to no longer fit, so it had to be replaced  

The north porch bears the date of 1632, and as it is stylistically similar to the south porch, it is assumed that they were both added at this date.

During the 19th century the chancel roof was, once again, replaced, and the 16th century east window was replaced by 3 lancet windows.

In 1915 Sir Ninian Comper performed a major refit, this included trying to recreate the 16th century east window, reconstruction of the pulpit, and replacement of the box pews at the eastern end of the nave with contemporary pews, which were given carved ends by using parts of the old pulpit and the doors of the box pews.  During the 1960’s work was performed on the tower and the remaining box pews were replaced - the carved ends for these came from a nearby redundant church.

The 21st century has brought its own changes, with a new boiler house, replacing the first floor of the vestry and two new stained glass windows.


The Official St Mary’s Sprotborough, website.

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The misericords and history of Sprotborough,

St Mary.

St Mary’s, has three 14th or 15th century misericords.

Corpus of misericords

R01

Typical autumn scene, possible October With a man and a boy feeding his pigs, knocking down acorns [from a tree]

R02

The devil taking off a man and woman.

R03

Central carving missing. There remain just two short corbels at each side of the seat lip.

Please click on the thumbnail misericords for larger images



St Mary's church Sprotborough Yorkshire 14th 15th century medieval misericords misericord misericorde misericordes Miserere Misereres choir stalls Woodcarving woodwork mercy seats pity seats sbro1.2.jpg
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St Mary's church Sprotborough Yorkshire 14th 15th century medieval misericords misericord misericorde misericordes Miserere Misereres choir stalls Woodcarving woodwork mercy seats pity seats sbro1.5.jpg
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St Mary's church Sprotborough Yorkshire 14th 15th century medieval misericords misericord misericorde misericordes Miserere Misereres choir stalls Woodcarving woodwork mercy seats pity seats sbro2.2.jpg
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St Mary's church Sprotborough Yorkshire 14th 15th century medieval misericords misericord misericorde misericordes Miserere Misereres choir stalls Woodcarving woodwork mercy seats pity seats sbro2.4.jpg
sbro2.4.jpg
St Mary's church Sprotborough Yorkshire 14th 15th century medieval misericords misericord misericorde misericordes Miserere Misereres choir stalls Woodcarving woodwork mercy seats pity seats sbro3.2.jpg
sbro3.2.jpg


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