A Brief History of St Wilfrid’s
There has been a church at Cantley since Saxon times and it is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. The present church dates back to 1257, the West tower being added one hundred years later. It has been much altered since then and the amount of original medieval work is limited. However, the decoration on the arch of the South door is similar to that around the West door of Lincoln Cathedral, which dates from approx. 1032.
The church stands on a mound but instead of facing due East, it is turned some 50 degrees towards the North. It is possible that the church was founded on a site used for earlier worship or the site of a Romano-British pagan temple or burial ground associated with the 2nd Century pottery kilns, traces of which have been found in the area.
In Victorian times there were two restorations by eminent architects, George Gilbert Scott, 1874, and John Ninian Comper, 1894. The glory of the present building owes much to Comper’s skill and vision. He re-created the atmosphere of an English medieval parish church.
An extension to the North side of the church was completed in April 1989. The architect was Donald Buttress, a recognised authority on the work of Comper, Surveyor of the Fabric to Westminster Abbey and consultant architect to a number of our cathedrals.
The church you see today is not a museum. It is a place where the living God is found and adored, where people come in all their joys and sorrows to be with our Lord. Comper wrote that his purpose was “to move us to worship, to bring a man to his knees, to refresh his soul in a weary land.”
For visitors wanting to read about our history in greater detail a full version of this article can be downloaded using the link below which is available as a PDF. There is also a biography of St Wilfrid available. To view either you will need Adobe Reader which you will most likely have already. If not the latest version can be found by clicking on the Get Adobe Reader link below.