St Mary’s sits at the junction of the A59 and the A682, a low slung church of great age and character.
The foundations of the present church have been dated to around 1135, documents certainly exist in York, stating that the Priest of Gisburn was Renulf between 1140 and 1146. The church seems to have shared patronage between the Archbishopric of York, and the Prioress of Stainfield Nunnery in Lincolnshire.
At this time, the church may have had a dual dedication….to St Mary the Virgin, and St Andrew. The dual dedication may have been an attempt at dissuading marauding Scottish armies from desecrating the church and its grounds. Whether this worked or not is not obvious.
It’s possible, as with so many other Norman churches, that there was an earlier Saxon church on the site, but earlier buildings seem to have been constructed of wood, and therefore no remains can be found.
Restoration and consolidation has been undertaken on a few occasions. Documents show that the church was restored in the late 16th century and also in 1872. during the latter restoration, the church was re-roofed and new pews and a pulpit were installed.
One of the most interesting features of the interior of the church, are the large round pillars at the front of the building.
These most certainly date from the 12th century, and possibly, along with part of the massive archway, came from Sawley Abbey after the dissolution instigated by Henry VIII.
There are four beautiful Royal coats of arms mounted high in the clerestory portion of the church.
There are 7 stained glass windows in the church in total, none of which look older than the 1600’s, with most of the windows being from around the 1800’s. Two windows do contain some medieval glass however.
The church appears to be left open for inspection.
A usefull website for the village of Gisburn.