Church History

   Church History

St. Giles is the Anglican Parish Church of Pontefract. Situated in the heart of the town, the Grade II listed building with its unique octagonal tower visible for miles around, proclaims the Glory of God to the people of Pontefract and its many visitors.

There has been some sort of religious building on the site since at least the 12th Century, although today’s building is generally associated with Georgian architecture.

The Font

Hundreds of thousands of people have been baptised at this font, which is about 550 years old. It’s origin is unknown.

Jesus told us to baptise all who believe in him (Matthew Ch28 v 18-20)

Stained glass windows

The windows in St. Giles Church are fine examples of Victorian stained glass. The windows in the North and South aisles depict biblical passages and are dedicated to long serving vicars and members of notable Pontefract families.

And He healed them (Matthew Ch.14 v.14)

This window was dedicated to Surgeon – Major Henry Muscroft of Pontefract by his family, the memorial tablet alongside is from officers and men of his battalion.

On this rock I will build my Church (Matthew Ch.16 v.18)

The left panel showing Solomon building the Temple and the right panel showing the vision of the new Jerusalem, depict the building of the Church, both materially and spiritually. The window is dedicated to the Reverend Thomas Bissett, Vicar of Pontefract from 1865 to 1878.

The Lady Altar

Dedicated to Our Lady, the Mother of Jesus.

The Pulpit

The pulpit was replaced and moved from the North aisle at the end of the 19th Century.

The Sanctuary Chapel

Previously part of the Chantry Chapel, built around 1300 AD, it was demolished and replaced with the Sanctuary in 1868/9 by the Earl of Harewood, the Lay Impropriator.

The High Altar and Reredos

The reredos behind the High Altar was installed in 1870.

The Chancel Window

The central window shows the Crucifixion, with the Resurrection in the left window and the Ascension in the right window.

He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again. He ascended into Heaven.

The Eagle Lectern

The Lectern was given by the Reverend James Rhodes of Carleton to commemorate the re-opening of the Church in 1869.

The Pews

In the 1868 re-ordering, the existing family box pews were removed and replaced by the present deal pews. There are carvings on the end of the pews reserved for the commanding officer of the local garrison and the Mayor of Pontefract. The brass holder at the end of the mayors pew held the Mace.

The North Arcade

The oldest visible part of the Church, the columns in this arcade date back to the 14th Century.

The War Memorial

Dedicated to the members of the parish who fell in the 1914-1918 War.

The Epistles of St. Paul

This window is dedicated to the Reverend James John Christie, Vicar of Pontefract from 1878-1899, and his wife.

The Nave Ceiling

The Nave Ceiling dates back to Tudor times, the 16th Century and is of timber construction.

West Gallery

Built during the Georgian reconstruction of 1740. The Royal Coat of Arms commemorates the reconstruction work.

Church regeneration project

In 2000, major restoration and repair work was carried out on the building fabric, including replacing the roof, renovating the tower and securing the choir arches. Funding is currently being sought to revitalise the interior of the building, enabling St. Giles Church to provide improved worship and community facilities for the benefit of future generations of Pontefract people and visitors.