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Brompton, Northallerton

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St Thomas' Church

John Kettlewell (1653 - 1695)

John Kettlewell was the second son of John Kettlewell of Lowfields Farm, Brompton, who was Registrar of Brompton from 1653 and who died in 1659. His grandfather had come to Northallerton from Howden and had been a merchant in the town. John was educated first at the Petty School in the village and then at Northallerton Grammar School, from where he went to St Edmunds Hall, Oxford in 1670. He became a Fellow of Lincolnís College, Oxford in 1675 and received his Masterís Degree two years later.

In 1678 he took Holy Orders and became Chaplain to the Countess of Bedford, going on to become Vicar of Coleshill in Warwickshire in 1682. He refused to take the Oath of Allegiance to William and Mary because of his Jacobite sympathies and was thus deprived of his living. He spent the rest of his days at Lincolnís Inn, London, where he continued to write controversial devotional works. He died of consumption in 1695 and was buried at All Hallows, Barking, in a grave where Archbishop Laud had previoulsy been interred. He was described by Bishop Keen as the most saintly man he ever knew.

Kettlewell remembered the parish of his birth by bequeathing the residue of his goods and rents of Kettlewell Farm, Brompton, to the foundation of a trust. The monies from this trust, still in operation, 'originally went towards the provision of bibles, to help the poor and the sick and to assist in the education of apprentices in the parishes of Brompton and Northallerton. In recent years, the recipients have been local hospitals and schools, as well as the church. A commemorative window can be seen in the south wall of the nave. Details of the Kettlewell Trust and other charities of benefit to the parish can been seen in the church on a board drawn up in 1830.

Restorations and Additions

The 17th century saw certain restorations to the church. In 1638, the exterior walls of the nave were refurbished, whilst the chancel received similar treatment in 1660. These alterations are commemorated by stones on the exterior walls of the south side of the church, above the Kettlewell window and the chancel window.

In 1864, Sir Stephen Glynne in his ĎNotes on Yorkshire Churchesí had little to say about Saint Thomasí apart from the fact that the church needed much improvement. This was taken up by the then vicar, William John Middleton, and in 1867 large scale alterations, especially to the interior were made. The outside walls were refaced, disclosing in the foundations of the chancel, the famous Hogbacks. The vestry was added at the north east corner. Galleries running along the north, west and south of the interior of the nave, probably placed there in the 17th century, were removed. These had formed a barrier in the nave and greatly obstructed the chancel. The chancel arch was created and the organ moved from the west gallery to its present position in the chancel. The Kettlewell window was constructed and, after his death, the east window was added as a memorial to Reverend Middleton. (Illustration No 7)

The west window, designed by Kempe and executed sometime after 1886, is dedicated to the Pattison family who owned linen weaving mills in Brompton. Brompton linen received recognition at the Great Exhibition of 1851 when Pattisonís rivals in the village, the Wilfords, received Exhibition medals. The industry at its height employed around 300 people and contributed much to the growth and prosperity of the village in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Alas, the factories are no longer there and the role of the village has changed accordingly.

The reredos above the main altar, the altar rail, the priestís stall and Pri Dieus were all designed by G.C. Pace, C.V.O., M.A., F.S.A., F.R.Hist.S., F.R.I.B.A. in 1965. The reredos is of cast aluminium and the altar rail has woodwork by Gillam and Sons of Sheffield whilst the wrought iron work is by Dowson of Kirkbymoorside.

The chandelier in the chancel is thought to date around 1770 and was most likely to have been made in Birmingham by James Haywood at a cost of around £10.

The chancel also houses the Yates Memorial window dedicated to the memory of Reverend William Yates, vicar of the parish from February 1926 to December 1943, and an aunbrey in memory of Reverend Gordon Robert Cooper, vicar from 1958 to 1981

Thus the fabric and decoration of the church as it is today was completed, leaving a structure which has witnessed for centuries generations of worship at Brompton. On leaving the church, notice the carved Saxon stones depicting knot designs on the south and east walls. Also the fine lych gate, erected as a memorial to those men of Brompton who fell in the two Great Wars. The graveyard, closed in 1970, reveals many interesting gravestones in a variety of designs.

When perchance we enter any village or town, or any other place in which there is a house of Prayer dedicated to God, let us first turn aside to this. - The Venerable Bede

east window west window
reredos
chandelier lych gate
aumbrey yates window

Brief History of Brompton Churches The Tower
The Saxon Crosses The Cock Shaft
The Wheel Head Crosses The Hogback Stones
Early Developments John Kettlewell and Restoration


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