A short history of Bolton By Bowland Church

There has been a church on this site since approximately 1190. However, the earliest fabric of the church appears to date from the middle of the 13th Century. The first records of building work were executed by Richard de Bolton who died in 1267.

John Winder the Rector and church historian in the 1970s writes that the oldest part of the church is the chapel on the right-hand side now referred to as ‘The Pudsay Chapel’. This relates to the early patrons of the church the Pudsay family. The most famous of the Pudsays being Ralph de Pudsay whose memorial lies at the left of the chapel. He had three wives and twenty-five children. A strong supporter of the Lancastrian cause, he was knighted by Henry V at Agincourt. Consequently, when Henry VI was defeated Sir Ralph sheltered him in the manor house. It is also thought that Sir Ralph completed the nave and chancel of the present church. He also re built the Pudsay Chapel into the style we see today.

The Pudsay Chapel also contains several memorials to the Littledale family who were resident at Bolton Hall in the Village.

The village and church were largely loyal to the monarchy and so it is unsurprising that in the 17th Century the church was restored with the arrival of pews. In 1703 the Rector John Meirs was appointed and he was responsible for the installation of a two-decker style pulpit and the altar rails we see today. The altar (presumably the one still in use) was given by Ambrose Pudsay. It may be that the mensa is the original medieval one rescued from the churchyard after the Elizabethan ‘restoration’. The font, bearing the hearaldry of local families was restored and extraordinarily was painted blue. The third ‘decker’ to the pulpit was added in the early 19th century.

In the 19th Century under the direction of the then Rector Canon Wilson the church was completely re ordered. The chancel was re designed with the stalls and pulpit in their current form. The owner of Bolton Hall the Wright family paid half the cost of the restoration. An organ by Abbot’s of Leeds was also installed. The render was removed and the stone walls exposed.

The church has six bells, two original medieval ones, one from 1749 and three from the 20th century. They are 13 cwt in the key of F.