Thornley (part 3)The earliest part of the Church was built in 1838, a plain Regency stone structure with just a simple bellcote and six lancet windows. It probably began life as a chapel of ease to the mother parish of Wolsingham, but in 1842 what is now the chancel was added to the east end of the little building, almost doubling the seating capacity to 300. Designed in the much more decorative early Victorian Gothic style it was by R Dunlop and dedicated to St Bartholomew, the patron saint of shepherds and miners, which must have been very appropriate at the time. The parish registers run from 1848, when the parish was formally created from Wolsingham
The very first vicar of this church was Joshua Elliott, to whose memory the fine stained glass altar window is dedicated. The stained glass west window, depicting St Bartholomew himself is in memory of Martha, Joshua’s wife.
The altar rail, given by the congregation in 1865, is made of the local Frosterley marble, as is the font, which was found broken in a Wolsingham garden and repaired before being installed. In 1891, the tower, octagonal steeple and outer door were added. It is thought that the vestry was probably also built around this time, necessitating the loss of one of the lancet windows. The blocked up remains of this are still visible above the present vestry door if you look very carefully.
The organ was restored in 1981, when it was converted to electricity. Prior to that, it had been powered by hand operated bellows. The original stone pulpit was removed around the same time and replaced with a plain, moveable wooden one, which was made by Robert Thompson and carries his famous trademark - a small carved mouse - on the base.
Although the beautiful little burial ground has recently been closed for inhumations, ashes can still be accommodated. The church is also available for weddings and baptisms, and the regular Sunday morning service takes place at 9.30 am. For further details, contact Reverend M Goodall on 527340
Continue to part 4