Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 22 May 1931
A Pilgrimage from Wombwell
The Wombwell branch of the Church of England Men’s Society visited Darfield Church onwhy Monday evening, and were conducted over the church by the Rector, Canon Sorby. The party included the Rector of Wombwell and the two curates, the Rev J.E. Broadbent and the Rev. R. J. Jones. In an address Canon Sorby reviewed the history of the church, and dealt with its historical and architectural lectures.
The party first visited the hell chamber, which the rector stated was the best ringing chamber in the diocese with the exception of that of the cathedral church. The bells had recently been re-turned and are now hung on the most modern principles, making the ringing less laborious. The ringers themselves had renovated the chamber and put in wainscoating. The bells, now supported on a steel frame, numbered six, and two extra pits had been provided, so that the full complement of eight could be installed. The rector explained how each bell had three notes, combining to make the true note. The only disadvantage of a steel frame for bells was that in the industrial districts the steel work susceptible to damage by chemical action. This meant that the whole of the steel work bad to be repainted every three years.
Two of the pro-Reformation bells came from Beauchief, and the tradition was that the horses were shod the reverse way so that no one should know a where the bells had gone to. He did not suggest that the people of Darfield were thieves in those days, but they seemed to be receivers of stolen property. Dealing with the history of the church. Canon Sorby said that, although very ancient, the present was not the original church.
The Domesday survey was probably made in the year 1088. When the church of Swinton was conveyed to the monks of Pontefract, Godwynus, a priest of Darfield, was one of the witnesses to the deed. There were in the church Anglo-Saxon runic crosses, indicating the probability of that being the site of an Anglo-Saxon church. After explaining the medieties, Canon Sorby stated that as a result of patient effort the Bishop of Beverley and he elaborated a scheme by which the second mediety was merged into the first, leaving a certain amount of income for the endowment of a curate at Darfield a certain amount to the living of Ardsley, and the remainder to Wombwell. Hitherto the rector of Darfield shared in the patronage at Wombwell in the order of the third turn, but he had now surrendered that privilege to obtain the whole of the patronage at Ardsley.
Canon Sorby said that the oldest part of the church was the base of the tower, and if the church were dismantled they would probably find Anglo-Saxon remains. In the 15th century the height of the tower was increased. Much of the interior beauty of the church was defaced by the super-imposition of plaster in the last century. The rector at that time was the Rey. Henry Bowen Cooke. In order to clear off his father’s debts Henry’ Bowen Cooke retired into a small house in Scotland, leaving the vicar, the Rev. B. Charlesworth, to look after the church and parish.
The visitors were much interested by Canon Sorby’s explanation of bow the church came to be provided with its beautiful chancel screen. He told them that the screen was carved by amateurs, numbering 30 to begin with and subsequently reduced to eight. For two years the carvers worked at the rectory tinder the direction of a craftsman from Sheffield. The miners in the class were the best carvers, and kept their work beautifully clean.
The rector gave a description of the magnificent East window, and when attention had been drawn to the beautiful marble mosaic work in the chancel he advised the use of sour milk in preference to linseed oil or other preparations for cleaning and polishing marble.
Canon Sorby said there were only six churches in Yorkshire where the West end was higher than the East and Darfield one of them.
On the motion of the chairman of the branch. Mr. R. W. Pilkington, supported by several members, Canon Sorby was thanked for his kindness.