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The ancient church of St Oswald stands near the foot of Ingleborough. The original church was was rebuilt in Norman times by the Mowbray family but the tower was added later in the 15th century. A fire in 1933 gutted the church which was rebuilt in the decorated 14th century Gothic style, the work of Austin and Paley, St Oswald's is one of the most beautiful churches in the diocese.
The congregation of St Oswald's is a gathering of Christians seeking to glorify God in worship and in service for the benefit of the people of Thornton (Westhouse) and Ireby. To this end every home in the parish is visited twice a year and the sick and the lonely are cared for. The church hosts events for the village: concerts, exhibitions and seeks to work with the local parish council, the Marton arms and our Methodist neighbours.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was married here and copies of his marriage certificate are available. The church building recently featured in an episode on Conan Doyle in a Tyne Tees TV series.
Of interest to fans of the Bronte sisters is the display featuring Prof C Heywood's introduction to the latest edition of 'Wuthering Heights'. This gives a compelling argument for the setting of 'Wuthering Heights' being in the vicinity of the church.
Externally on the SW butress is a very distincttve Victorian bench mark. First Primary Levelling, England & Wales (1840-60)
This bench mark was used during the First primary levelling, England & Wales, and was levelled with a height of 441.8760 feet [134.6838 metres] above mean sea level (Liverpool datum). It was included as a side level on the Milner's Bridge to Bradford levelling line. The surveyor's description was No. 31(a). St. Oswalds's Church, Thornton. Bolt in tower ; 4.40 ft. above surface (p448).
The churchyard is beautifully kept by local volunteers with flowerbeds, and gravestones dating back to the eighteenth century. Internally further monuments including both seventeenth century and medieval are to be found. One a twelvth century cross slab with a fructrated stem and four step calvery which may be that fo the fourth baron Mowbray who rebuilt the ancient Anglo-Saxon church in the Norman manner. Three arches of the north arcade remind us of this rebuild.
At present the church is not open daily but visitors are welcome so arrangements can be made for it to be opened for your visit. (ring 01524 61579). For those who enjoy fine churchyards, the yard is always open, seating is available and it is a delight.
We are now part of the Ingleborough Team Ministry, Rector: The Revd Anne Russell. A new team Vicar is shortly to be appointed, for St Oswald's and All Saints, Burton.
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