Visitors' Guide

Settle Parish Church is a little unusual in being dedicated, not to a Saint, but to a Mystery, THE HOLY ASCENSION.

It is more common to find churches named after Saints, although there are other local churches also named after a Mystery. The church at Rathmell is dedicated to THE HOLY TRINITY and at Austwick to THE EPIPHANY. This church was built, in the Early English Style, from designs by Thomas Rickman and completed in 1838. You will see a plaque bearing this date over one of the entrance doors. It was consecrated on 26th October 1838.

Extensive re-ordering of the interior was completed in 1998. This included the creation of a Narthex area, a kitchen and other useful rooms, on two floors, to the rear of the Nave. These alterations together with the repainting of the interior and stripping of the pine pews have produced the present light and airy feel.  

The large painting entitled 'The Ascension" on the internal wall facing the altar was begun in early 2001 and dedicated in February 2005. It is a modern Icon and was a gift from the artist Mick Brown, who was inspired to do it by a relative. Rev Dr John Potter, an old friend of Settle Church. The painting is so placed as to be seen when returning from the altar where communicants have been nourished and strengthened by the sacrament of bread and wine to go out into the world
to proclaim the joyous message of Easter and Ascension, to which the Church is dedicated. The work takes everyday objects and materials such as mud, dust, burnt grain, water, clothes, and transfigures them just as God takes and reshapes us. Some have said that the way it is hung prevents them from seeing the whole picture, but that is exactly the point and corresponds directly to the mystery of the Ascension itself.

Our church's dedication to THE HOLY ASCENSION is reflected in the stained glass of the "East Window", which was designed by O'Cnnor from the famous Pugin Studio, and was given in memory of Mariah Swale who died in 1845. The outer panels show the four evangelists, the writers of the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The two central panels depict scenes of the Crucifixion and the Holy Ascension. Notice the tear drops of blood surrounding Jesus on the cross.

A rather more mundane mystery about this church is the fact that it is not aligned along the usual East-West axis but is instead aligned North-South. So the "East Window" actually faces south! An attractive result of this is the colourful effect produced by the sunlight streaming though the stained glass onto the adjacent walls, if you are fortunate enough to be here in the morning, when the sun is shining

Other notable windows include the one at the front left of the Nave "North Side", which dates from 1913 and is by William Morris from a Burne Jones design. It was given in memory of Alphonsine Sarah Jarry.

And on the same side is a window dedicated to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, who helped the poor and died at the age of 24 in 1229 AD. This is by Abbots of Lancaster in memory of Sidney James Procter and his wife Doris, 1918. They had a confectioner's shop and cafe in the town and there is a family memorial - a black granite slab - on the left of the path as you enter the churchyard. Exactly why the family chose to dedicate the window to the memory of Elizabeth of Hungary
remains a mystery.

At the front of the Nave, to the left and right of the Chancel screen are the Pulpit and the Font. Both are made of Alabaster. The font was given as a Thank-Offering from William Frederick and Margaret Pierson "For God's Mercy bestowed Christmas 1869"

See the four symbols for Christ around the font. Fonts were usually placed near the door as a reminder that by baptism we enter the Church Family. This font was moved to the front of the nave during the 1998 reordering, acknowledging the current practice of including baptisms within the regular Sunday worship of the Church Family. Beside the pulpit is the large brass eagle lectern from which the Bible was formerly read. This was a gift in memory of William Frederick Pierson who was Vicar of Settle from 1848 - 83. His grave, with a chalice embossed on the stone, can be found in the graveyard close to the "East End" of the church. The eagle was a common symbol on lecterns with its large wings to carry forth the Word.

The smaller wooden lectern was a recent gift, by a member of the church in 1998, and was made in Settle by a local craftsman. The cross on the front is in burr oak.

Through the screen is the Chancel. The word comes from the Latin CANCELLI meaning a lattice or grating. In the medieval period, and again now here in Settle, the naves of churches were often used for secular community meetings,
and the screen was there to maintain the dignity and mystery of the presbytery or chancel.

Beyond the communion rail is the Sanctuary - the most holy part of the church. Here is found the Communion Table, or Holy Table, often referred to as the Altar, on which the bread and wine are placed for the Eucharist or communion. The Mothers Union gave this table in 1934 in memory of Susanna Isabella Edgar. See the memorial plaque on the wall to the left.

Before the recent re-ordering, there were inward facing pews in this chancel area where the choir and clergy would sit during the services.

To the left side of the Chancel is the organ, made by JJ Binns of Leeds in the early 1900s and still giving good service with its original pneumatic action.

The Lady Chapel to the right of the Chancel dates from 1957 and the Holy Table here is the original one from the main Sanctuary, which was replaced in 1934.

The light in the Lady Chapel indicates that, in the wall safe or Aumbry, consecrated bread and wine from the Eucharist have been stored ready for taking to the sick and housebound. The Lady Chapel is regularly used as a place for private prayer and quiet contemplation.

A set of ceramic "Stations" of the Cross (made by Watts of London) can be seen, in appropriate groupings at various points around the walls. These were the gift of a parishioner in 1972.

In the Middle Ages, when the Holy Land was conquered by the Turks, pilgrimages there could not take place and instead, the journey could be made walking around the church stopping at the various "stations" depicting our Lord's way of the Cross to Calvary.

The war memorial on the "south side" of the nave, together with the book of remembrance, lists the names of the people of the parish who gave their lives in the two World Wars. Included are the names of two American airmen whose plane crashed locally.

As you leave the church notice the stoup beside the door. This contains Holy Water with which some people will cross themselves when entering church.

In the outer porch you will see a memorial tablet to the workmen who died, as a result of accidents, while building the Settle-Carlisle Railway Line.

As you leave the church notice, opposite the door, the grave of John Owen, one of the railway workers, with its inscription in Welsh.

The Tower is a little unusual in having a small spire on top. It contains a set of eight bells, which were restored in 1996 and retuned in 2004. They are now rung every Sunday by an enthusiastic band of ringers. The tower is also used as a training centre for local and regional bell-ringing associations.

On the left of the path a little further down is the grave of a local blacksmith, Luke Ralph, and his wife and children. Notice the very appropriate and poetic inscription!

Thank you for reading about our church.  We hope you've found its history interesting.  Whether you live some distance afar or in the neighbourhood do come and see us sometime soon.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.