St. Wilfrid’s is a beautiful medieval building on Church Lane, overlooking the Trent valley. The
Church, at one time, was an outpost for the Knights Hospitallers of St John, and has many interesting features, old and new.
We offer a varied pattern of Sunday services including both quiet, reflective Holy Communion and our monthly Worship for All, to which families are particularly welcome, young and old.
Special services are also organised for specific occasions at different times throughout the year. For more information contact Anne Heathcote (01332 703915)
Our usual Sunday pattern is:
1st Sunday in the month:
9.00 a.m. Holy Communion (said)
2nd Sunday in the month:
10.30 a.m. Morning Worship.
3rd Sunday in the month:
10.30 a.m. Holy Communion.
4th Sunday in the month:
10.30 a.m. Worship for All.
Our other activities include:
Coffee Morning with a Speaker every 2nd Saturday in the month from 10.30 a.m. in Church.
Youth Group meets every Wednesday evening at 7.00 p.m. in Church.
The village school, Sale and Davys Primary School has close links with the Church
The Barrow Singers, that support the Church when requested, rehearse on Monday evenings and perform concerts throughout the year. Contact the membership secretary, Judith on 01332 862326.
St Wilfrid’s Church – A brief history and description
A Church of Significance
The history and architecture of this beautiful medieval church has been largely dismissed by historians as being considered of less importance than its famous neighbours at Melbourne and Repton, and of the adjacent parishes of Weston and Twyford. However, this is unjustified and undervalues the significance of a fine medieval parish church successfully serving the needs of its country parish whilst suffering the privations of neglect and eventually desecration of its fine artefacts. The church, much admired for its simplicity and light, has survived as a remarkable monument to its rural history and the present PCC are researching its past and will produce a document chronicling its history.
The Church at Barrow on Trent is mentioned in the Domesday Book. It is now known as St Wilfrid, but has been previously dedicated to St Helen and also to St Luke. There have been no confirmed signs of Saxon or Norman work in the present Church so this was possibly a wooden building. However, there is a blocked round-headed priest’s doorway on the outside of the south wall of the chancel of very early origin, and signs of Saxon short and long work in the masonry of the north wall of the nave. The present building dates from the mid 12th-century. Robert de Bagpuize (d. c. 1166) gave the church of Barrow upon Trent to the Priory of St John of Jerusalem, otherwise known as the Knights Hospitallers, so this and later medieval work would have been their work. Until its dissolution in 1543 the estate was run as a ‘camera’ of their Preceptory at Yeaveley. Following the dissolution of the Order in England, the Commander of Yeaveley and Barrow was elected Lieutenant-Turcopolier of Malta. The Order had a house at Arleston, just across the fields, and their nearness and involvement may account for the beauty of the Church. The St John Ambulance Brigade is the successor of the Knights Hospitallers.
One of the fascinating features of the church is the number of clues that exist that show the changes that have been made over the years and the developments made due to its changing circumstances. It is believed that the two east bays and the North aisle are the oldest part c. 1150. A metre or two beyond the present North Door can be seen the outline of the original door position. In the 13th century the part of the nave where the font stands was added and the base of the tower was built and the roof was raised. In the Tower, on either side of the arch, there are clear signs of a balcony that would have been used by the village orchestra until 1876, and within the tower itself it is obvious that there have been rooms at different heights at different times. The font, of the perpendicular period (c.15th cent) was originally nearer the North door and there is a hole in the floor where it used to be. It was moved to its present position in 1893 and a solid fuel stove was put in its place, until in turn it was replaced by central heating.
The arcades in the nave, and the South aisle were built in the late 1300s, and at this time windows were put in at the east end of both North and South aisle. Just behind and to the right of where the organ was situated, can be seen the effigy of a priest in vestments. However it has been suggested that he originally resided in the sepulchral recess under the squint in the existing vestry, and in the present vestry there are the remains of sedilia and a piscina. Around 1400 the clerestory was added and there are clear signs over the chancel arch of the original height of the roof before it was raised. At the same time the upper parts of the tower were added and also the South Porch.
In the Chancel, there used to be another bay further east which was knocked down (probably fallen into ruin during the Commonwealth) and a mixed lot of stone was used over the East Window that includes a part of a ‘Lorraine cross’ or double cross, the mark of the Hospitallers. On the right there is the round-headed made up doorway that may be seen very clearly outside. At the left of the chancel is a priest’s door, of early date, beside which hides a small low window where a boy may have rung the Sanctus bell outside to announce the Elevation of the Host. The diamond shaped wooden hatchment above contains the coat of arms of an old Barrow family. On the opposite side on the small alcove there is an old piscina that was originally in the motherhouse of the Knights Hospitallers at Yeaveley.
In the vestry the remains of a stairway leading to a rood (crucifix) loft built about 1400 may be seen. There would also have been screens for both aisles built then, of which there are still signs. From both aisles there is a ‘squint’ to the main altar. On the North side there are signs of repair where too much of the wall was removed to make an archway, and some was replaced.
A Belgian refugee in the 1914-1918 war made the beautiful crucifix that now hangs from the chancel arch. The surround in which it sits was made from part of the oak frame in the tower bell chamber in 1930. There are three bells, two dating from 1530 and one dating from 1516.
For 400 years the Church was full of light and colour and contained tombs, monuments, heraldic glass and fine carving. There then followed a century of destruction and another of neglect followed later by a burst of destructive vandalism at the beginning of the 19th century that destroyed most of the remaining beautiful artefacts. The priest in the south aisle is sadly the only major statue remaining. All other items, recorded by Bassano in 1710, have disappeared and the Church today is much as it would have been in the late 19th century. However, thanks to its simple beauty and its many fascinating mysteries this church is much admired by all who visit it.