‘Lost’ antique church carvings discovered

The Bishop of Wakefield Tony Robinson, then Bishop of Pontefract, pictured with one of the misericords in 2012.
The Bishop of Wakefield Tony Robinson, then Bishop of Pontefract, pictured with one of the misericords in 2012.

Antique carvings from a demolished church that were feared lost have been found and a village’s war memorial could be reinstated after several years of delays.

The Grade-II listed former St Peter’s Church in Stanley was knocked down in 2014 after it fell into disrepair and a deal to sell the building fell through.

Demolition takes place at St Peters Church, Stanley, Wakefield.

Demolition takes place at St Peters Church, Stanley, Wakefield.

Sixteen oak carvings, known as misericords, were removed from the church ahead of its demolition, while a war memorial was taken down.

During the process it appeared that the misericords – which are worth around £2,000 each – may have been lost, sold or stolen.

Campaigners had argued that they were an important aspect of Stanley’s history and should be but on display, but their whereabouts remained a mystery.

At the time of the demolition, local historian George Parfitt said: “I think it’s really sad. I just wanted them to keep the building.

“A hundred years from now I think people will be asking questions about why they knocked it down.”

The Diocese of Leeds, which oversees the parish, has now confirmed the misericords are in its care and planning permission has been granted to reinstate the war memorial.

A spokeswoman said: “It would be wonderful to be able to do this in time to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War later this year.” She said the diocese had received no formal request from the people of Stanley to return the carvings. Mr Parfitt, who runs the stanleyhistoryonline.com website, said he would fight to have them put back on display in the district.

He said: “It left a sour taste in lots of people’s mouths when they were removed.

“As part of the local area they should be put on display in Wakefield.

“I am a bit more hopeful about the future of the war memorial as long as it gets done and isn’t kicked into the long grass.”

The church dates back to 1822 and was rebuilt in 1911 following a disastrous fire that left only its walls standing.

The misericords were carved by HP Jackson in the 1920s.

A neighbouring old school building was used after the old church was abandoned.