St John the Baptist's Church, Tunstall

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St John the Baptist's Church, Tunstall

St John the Baptist's Church, Tunstall is to the northeast of the village of Tunstall, Lancashire, England (grid reference SD614739). It is a Grade I listed building and an active Anglican church in the united benefice of East Lonsdale, in the deanery of Tunstall, the archdeaconry of Lancaster and the diocese of Blackburn. The benefice of East Lonsdale combines this church with St Peter, Leck, St Wilfrid, Melling, St James the Less, Tatham, The Good Shepherd, Lowgill, and Holy Trinity, Wray.


A church at Tunstall is recorded in the Domesday survey but the oldest structure in the present church dates from the 13th century. The church was rebuilt around 1415 by Sir Thomas Tunstal. Alterations were made in the 16th century and the church was restored in 1907. In the early 19th century the church was attended by the Brontë sisters during the time they were receiving education at the Clergy Daughters' School at nearby Cowan Bridge.


The church is built in sandstone rubble with a slate roof. Its plan consists of a west tower, a nave and chancel under a continuous roof, north and south aisles, and a two-storey south porch. The tower has diagonal buttresses and an embattled parapet. Above each of the small bell openings is a carved tablet of an angel holding a shield. The west door has a pointed head above which is a three-light window with Perpendicular tracery. The aisles have embattled parapets, as does the porch. Above the door of the porch is a niche with a sundial plate and above that a small one-light window.

Fittings and furniture

Internally the responds of the north arcade have early 13th century capitals and the west lancet windows of the north aisle are probably also from this century. Dating from the 1907 restoration are the roof and the chancel screen. A Roman votive stone has been built into the surround of a window in the north aisle. At the east end of the south aisle is a chapel known as the Chapel of the Holy Trinity. In the chapel is a mutilated effigy which is said to be of Sir Thomas Tunstal. Under the tower arch is an 18th-century oval marble font on sandstone baluster base. The east window contains glass from the Netherlands dating from the late 15th and the 16th centuries. It was donated to the church in 1810 by Richard Toulmin North of nearby Thurland Castle. In the south wall is stained glass dated 1979 by Jane Gray. In the church are a number of memorials to the Fenwick family. The two-manual organ was built in 1923 by Harrison & Harrison. The church plate includes a chalice and paten dated 1708, a paten dated 1709–10, a chalice dated 1713 and a paten and flagon dated 1718–19.

External features

Near the church is a sandstone sundial base dating probably from the 18th century consisting of a round column with a square cap on a base of three octagonal steps. It is listed Grade II.