Headland Benefice

A Tour of St Oswald’s Church


St Oswalds cutaway view

St. Oswald

Before entering the church, take time to view the fine carving on the south side of the tower. This is an effigy of St. Oswald, the patron saint of fishermen and of the church.

The Strickland Pardon

Showing the Royal Arms with the Fleur de Lys, and a striking likeness of Charles II, this is a replica of the original pardon; which was signed by Charles himself, and dated at Westminster 1660.

It was granted to Walter Strickland, a member of an old Westmoreland family and Lord of the Manor of Flamborough. Walter had accepted office under the Protectorate and was Ambassador to Holland for a few years. There he met his bride, Ann Morgan, only daughter of Sir Charles Morgan, Governor of Brabant, and it was she who bought the Lordship of Flamborough for her husband. At the Restoration, Strickland, who for 11 years had been associated with a Party that had kept Charles from his kingdom, found himself attainted for High Treason, and his life and property forfeit. 

But the eminent services of his family in the past were apparently sufficient to win him a free pardon, granting him his liberty and the restoration of all his lands and property. The Pardon had apparently been lying in the Parish Chest for many years when The Revd Peters, the Vicar, produced it for inspection by the members of the East Riding Antiquarian Society in 1934. Through the good offices of the secretary, Mr. Stanewell, a perfect and complete translation was made. The original was then framed in oak and carefully plated back and front to render it damp-proof. 

It would appear that the Stricklands died childless, The Lordship of Flamborough was inherited by the Stricklands of Boynton, from whom it passed to a younger branch of the family, and eventually to Walter Strickland, whose son, another Walter, bequeathed the Flamborough Estate to his only surviving sister, Frances Elizabeth Cottrell-Dormer. Mrs. Cottrell-Dormer made her home in the village, and built Danes Dyke House (since demolished) in 1873.

The Font

The Font is undoubtedly of a very early date and bears an incised double-lining diamond pattern over its surface. It is probable that it dates from the same period as the early Norman Chancel arch. Until the restoration work of the 1860s it had a simple wooden cover and the whole font was re-sited on a new stone base.

The Flamborough Book of Service

This is a most unusual, perhaps unique, war memorial showing the name of every person who was engaged in service of any kind in the conflict of 1939-1945. The Book is the work of Mr. A.E. Cracroft and was dedicated by the Bishop of Hull, Rt. Rev. H.T. Vodden on April 6th 1946

The Tower

Two additional bells were added to the tower in 1990 and were the idea of Wilfrid Moreton in memory of his father. He was the last child born in the Vicarage and was one time President of the Yorkshire Bell ringers. A peal of six bells, still call the people to worship.

The bells are inscribed from Psalm 118:-

St. Nicholas Chapel (also known as The Children's Chapel)

The chapel was designed by F.F. Johnson, Esq, and dedicated by the Bishop of Hull on November 24th 1963.

The cross given in memory of the late C.E. Cannon and candlesticks (by church members) were specially designed to match the architecture of the church.

Maroon Mortar (behind the altar)

31½" maroon mortar was used for signalling call out for lifeboat and/or coastguard until 1987. The mortar fired a projectile some 500 feet. It was restored by HM Coastguard Senior Officer V. Crosthwaite and placed in the Church in 1989.

The Squint

During restoration work carried out in the 1860s, part of what is thought to have been a SQUINT was unearthed by the right hand pier behind the altar. The exact purpose of the Squint in church life is conjecture but one opinion is that it allowed persons such as the Lord of the Manor, who occupied the side aisles to see the celebrant of the mass. A carving of St. Nicholas now sits in the opening.

The Rood Loft and Screens

The rood, the loft and the screen, were not developed together as integral parts of a single work, but could, and often did, exist quite independently. The screen is certainly the oldest and its origin is lost in remote obscurity, although the word itself does not occur in the Middle Ages, and even in late medieval wills the most usual name for the screen is "rood loft" - a term applied without distinction to the rood loft proper or to the loft and screen together. 

In the Elizabethan Order of 1561, however, what is now called the Screen is specifically referred to as 'the partition' which term occurs frequently in schedules of monastic property at the time of the Dissolution. 'Lattice' was also, in the eighteenth century, a common name for screen work, and the earlier names 'enterclose', 'parclose' and 'pertclose' were often applied from the Middle Ages onwards to screens enclosing side altars.

The Rood Screen served two functions. It defined the boundary between the Chancel, for which the Vicar was responsible and the Nave which was chargeable to the parishioners. It also provided a physical guard for the altar. A glance at the central arch of the screen will show that it was originally fitted with folding doors.

Ten Commandments, Lord’s Prayer and Creed

In the Churchwardens' accounts for 1819 there are some interesting particulars of the amounts paid in connection to the boards erected on the wall above the Chancel arch and the paining of the 10 Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer. The cost of lettering the Lord's Prayer came to £1-3/-, and the Creed £2, while a second painting cost 5/1d. The work involved the painting of "105 dozen and 3 of letters at 1/1d per dozen" and the paint and oil for the above and for the ornamental borders cost 14/-

The Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross were purchased and fixed to the pillars in 1991 arising from a generous gift from Mrs Margaret Gunton who particularly wished to see the Stations in the Church.

The Lectern

The brass Eagle Lectern was given to the Church by the Ogle family, and the parishioners of Flamborough, in memory of John B. Ogle.

The Lady Chapel

Now known as The Lady Chapel but perhaps more correctly called "The South Chapel". The screen across the south isle of the chancel is another piece of old woodwork which was obviously not designed for its present position. For the loss of some of the carvings had uncovered a series of assembly numbers of which two were missing - a strong indication that the screen was originally longer than it is now. 

Robert Fisher in his account of the 1864/9 restorations ("Flamborough Village & Headland" 1894) tells us that a heavy screen of wood was erected on the south side of the chancel arch, reaching to the wall of the aisle. It is unlikely that this could have been the present screen, which is far too fragile to have afforded any support to the piers of the arch. It is thought that the Lady Chapel Screen is a 'botch' of the material from the Priory left over when the screen and other material originally came to Flamborough. 

At some point in late Victorian/Edwardian times the screen was moved to its present position possibly about the time the Bell Tower and porch were built. Possibly this is when the Parclose Screen was put together from bits left over - either then or when the Priests' Vestry was screened and the screen between the sanctuary the lady chapel was erected - also from Priory salvaged woodwork.

This chapel contains several monuments and tombstones to the Ogle and Strickland families, and an altar tomb, said to be in memory of one of the Constables. Unfortunately, the brass formerly round the border of this tomb was moved and is now lost. The Communion Rails were the gift of Miss Postgaite, and were dedicated by her brother, Canon Postgaite. The Vine scroll thereon is a copy of the one on the front of the rood loft. 

In the south wall is an unusually large piscine of rectangular pattern. This has been moved from its original position five or six feet more to the west, and the stone now placed over it is said to have been the head of a priest's door in the old Church. The memorial plaque attached to the screen bears the names of the Flamborough men who fell in the war of 1914-1918.

The history of the Crucifix now standing on the beam in the Lady Chapel is uncertain but it bears, written on the back, the words: "This antique Crucifix was brought from abroad by the ancestors of John Gurnwall Esq., descendant of an old Scarborough family"

The large stalls nearby bear the arms of the Boulton family, a member of which was Lord of the Manor.

The Ambry

On the wall of the Lady Chapel behind the curtain is The Ambry which is used for the storage of the oils used in sacraments. Inside is a plaque bearing the words "To the Glory of God and in the memory of Gilbert Coates (D1973) Incumbent of this Parish from 1950 to 1960 and also his wife Edith (D1986) - October 1988

Mother's Union Banner & Pedestal

The Mother's Union Banner and Pedestal were presented in memory of Robert and Sarah Knaggs of Flamborough by their grandchildren Edith Margaret and John Warcup. Dedicated 19th September 1953.

The Choir Area

The twelve-light Corona was the gift of Mrs Upton Cottrell Dormer.

The beautiful Sanctuary Lamp, given by a parishioner in memory of his parents has notable features of Mr. F.F. Johnson's design which include appropriate references to a maritime church in the crab-claw circlet; fishtail framework with scallop shell ornament; and the fish of the pendant (an ancient Christian symbol).

Constable Tomb

To the left of the altar is the CONSTABLE TOMB, the final resting place of Sir Marmaduke Constable, known as "the little". He died in 1530 after being the trusted servant of several kings from Henry VI to Henry VII. A soldier since his youth Sir Marmaduke had seen service in France and in Scotland, his last battle being at Flodden Field for which he received overwhelming praise from the King.

The Tomb is surmounted by the upper part of a skeleton, the rib-cage being still visible, revealing a bulbous heart and a curious lump of stone said to be the representation of a toad. Legend has it that Sir Marmaduke, while drinking some water, swallowed a toad. The creature ate his heart away until he eventually died. A detailed account of his active career is given on the brass plaque above the Tomb.

White Paper Gloves

Located in the Vestry and brought out on occasion for display is a pair of framed white paper gloves. The white paper gloves or 'Crants' are part of a variety of paper items which were sometimes carried in front of the bier at funerals in those days.

They were last used at the funeral of a Miss Major in 1761, though a more graphic illustration of their purpose, to local minds, is served by an incident that happened a century ago. Then, a young girl and her betrothed went in search of the "White Lady", a ghost supposed to inhabit Danes Dyke. The outcome is not recorded but within a month the girl died. Her coffin was carried by women and, as was the custom at the burial of a maiden, the procession was lead by a girl carrying a pair of white paper gloves.

South Aisle Screen to the Lady Chapel

There is medieval graffiti in the form of etchings on the reverse of the screen, showing sailing ships (upside down) and hulls and anchors are visible on the bottom bearer of the screen.

Examination of the bearer of the screen on the other side to the hulls and anchors show mast heads and rigging. This is not mentioned in previously produced local histories of the church but has been discovered recently by a local historian. It is believed that the graffiti woodwork possibly came from the wainscoting of The Shrine to St. John of Bridlington in the Priory to which many pilgrims would have come by sea, they possibly etched ships as mementoes or even in the hope of St. John's blessing for safe journeys.

High above the screen was the Great Rood from which the screen derived its name. The term meant originally the balk to which a figure of Christ was attached, but came in time to be applied to both together. From the 12th century it gradually became customary for the Great Rood not to stand alone, but to be accompanied by figures, one on either side, of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint John. There might, in addition, be figures of other saints or angels, but the Blessed Virgin and St. John were constant.

The Rood Loft was a gallery which was situated above the rood screen, extending across the east end of the nave, and in many cases across an aisle or both aisles of the nave as well. It was not prescribed, but evolved and developed to supply a practical want, and it came to be regarded as essential in every church. With the development of simple part singing, it had become necessary to find accommodation for the increased number of singers required and to make room also for the organ. The "shelf" behind the screen is a symbolic rather than functional representation of a "Loft". In some remote churches the loft was alleged to have been used for tithed farm produce storage.

Here is the detailed description of the loft front and screen by Aymer Vallance, the author of “English Church Screens”:

“The Rood Loft front which, though restored, retains much of its original work, is not only unique in the East Riding but is of sufficient rarity throughout the kingdom to entitle it to be pronounced a peculiarly important monument. The whole effect of screen and loft together in their original state must have been very splendid, with the richly sculptured tracery and canopy work and the elaborate enrichment in gold and colour, trace of which yet survive. 

“The loft, 23ft long has a handrail 8" square, with an insertion band of quatre-foil and slight brattishing, above a vine- grape trail. The gallery front is divided in to panels by vertical stiles, each with two buttresses, between which are pedestals and canopies, arranged in two tiers of niches for statuettes. Every panel was occupied by figure work, canopied with tabernacles, of which the mutilated remains have now been restored. The miniature vaulting underneath the canopies was blue, with gold ribs.

“The Breastsummer is enriched with a rose trail between two rows of brattishing, the lower row being inserted or hanging. Immediately below the vine trail is a band with "Barber's pole" decoration in black and gold above an ogee painted red. A bead runs below the rose trail and beneath this again, a hollow moulding painted green. The height of the parapet is 5ft 3" overall, and the total height from the summit of the parapet to the foot of the screen is 14ft 10". The vaulting has been renewed on the west front only, but the two boutel caps remaining, (one on the north jamb and one possible removed from the south jamb, now at the extreme south end of the screen) prove that it also projected eastwards originally.”

Traces of the rich colouring originally adorning the Loft can still be found, though the small statuettes from the niches separating the panels and the figure work from the panels themselves have long disappeared. The exquisite details, vine and rose trails and the complex canopies, still remain however for the visitor's appreciation. 

The fine fenestration tracery of the arches and the winged angel bear witness to the skill of the carvers. Although damaged and stripped of some of its former glory, this superb and elaborate composition is one of the rare examples of consummate craftsmanship. The intertwined rose is the trade mark of the Ripon School of Carvers, headed by William Bromfleet, who were responsible for screens and stalls surviving at Ripon, Manchester, Beverley, Aysgarth and Wensley; and others formerly at Bridlington, Jervaulx, Easby and possibly Kirkstall. 

Their activity lay between the years 1489 and 1527; they were therefore the last great group of craftsmen and artists in woodwork before the Dissolution of the Monasteries when the demand for such woodwork diminished.

It is quite possible that they were not originally made for this church, research seems to show that they resided at Bridlington Priory up until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century.

The screen was cleaned and preserved in 1989.

The Stained Glass Windows

The East Window

The Magnificent East Window is divided into five sections: from the north side; the uppermost portions depict:-

Under these are five shields supported by angels, one in the middle of each light, on which are figured the emblems of our Lord's Passion:-

    1. The ladder, sponge & spear
    2. The Crown of Thorns
    3. The nails
    4. The Pillar and Cords of the Scourging
    5. The Seamless Robe and the Roman soldiers' dice

The lowermost portions, again from the north side: the lower portions:-

These subjects were chosen with reference to what was the chief occupation of the inhabitants of Flamborough, as were those in the lights of the tracery. In the larger ones there are angels, with scrolls bearing the well-known words of a hymn:- "O hear us when we cry to Thee for those in peril on the sea".

In the lesser lights there are sea-shells, dolphins etc. “Sacred to the Memory of Walter Strickland, 1804-1870”

Stained Glass Windows in the Chancel

In the Chancel there are six Clerestory Windows, three on each side:

In the Lady Chapel the East window of five lights depicts the Old Testament scene of the Brazen Serpent, above the Crucifixion; and the Anointing of Christ's Feet “against the day of My burial”, above is “The Descent from the Cross”. This is “In Grateful Remembrance of Walter Strickland, 1795”

The “St. Francis” window in the Lady Chapel was a thank offering from Isa. J. Postgate who was a noted writer of children's books and an authority on birds. She made her home in Flamborough.

The south wall of the chapel: A window in memory of Clement Adelmar Cottrell Dormer, 1862-1907, depicting three Old Testament scenes:- 

These are above the three New Testament scenes:- 

The other window of three lights shows scenes from the life of St. Peter, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles:- 

Stained Glass Windows in the Nave

On the south side of the Nave, the easternmost window, presented by C.H. Childers Esq, shows St. Paul preaching to Athens and Christ and the little children.

The middle window, in memory of Sam Rawnsley "Forty years Schoolmaster and Choirmaster" shows two great Teachers of the Church, St. Paul and St. Augustine.

The westernmost window depicts, on the left hand side, St. Anne and Our Lady; and on the right, Tabitha, called Dorcas, in memory of Lydia Ann Rawnsley, who was "full of good works" (like the Tabitha in Scripture) on behalf of the parish's school children.

On the north side of the Nave, the eastern most windows will be seen to represent the Light Coming into the World, and the Lamb of God. 

The middle window depicts the Patron Saint of the church, Oswald, and St. Christopher.

The westernmost window shows St. Matthias and St. Andrew, “Fishers of Men.”

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