Knights of Stydd in Rishton

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There is a Parcel of land known as Edihones, sited between Rishton and little Harwood in the North East of the District, that was given by the De Rishtons to the Knights of Hospitalaist of St John of Jerusalem who had built a hospital at Stydd near Ribchester.

Stydd Church
View from the south
The west (left) wall may have been connected to a hospital building. A high doorway remains.
Stone Carvings in side the church.

The Knights Hospitallers were a military order which originated during the Crusades and were a unique combination of fighting knights and medical missionaries.

They played an important part in the Crusades, and in 1099 A. D., when Jerusalem was captured from the infidel Turks, they erected there a splendid hospital with a glorious church dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. At first they devoted themselves to the care of the inmates of their hospital, but later they became soldiers of the cross and champions of the poor and helpless.

It was shortly after these crusades that the last remaining church was built near Ribchester, Stydd is a small medieval church founded in 1136 by the Knights Hospitallers.

The chapel-like church of St Saviour, Stydd, can be found at the end of a small lane on the edge of the village of Ribchester. From a distance its low, grey form makes it virtually indistinguishable from the nearby agricultural buildings and cottages. Here, in the 12th Century, was a preceptory (small community) of the Knights Hospitallers, and this was their church.

The building that stands today is a nave and chancel in one, with a south porch. Its oldest datable  features are the Norman windows. On the north wall there are two of these. They are tall, narrow and round-headed, with splays outside and in, and hoodmoulds. Between them is a small blocked doorway, probably of the same age. It has an arch with a single chamfer. Above is a hoodmould with zig-zag moulding.

View from the north east.
The late 13th Century east window has intersecting tracery. The north wall has two Norman windows.

The south side of the church is quite a contrast. The doorway is Early English with, interestingly, both waterleaf and stiff leaf capitals, making its date early 13th Century. A tall, narrow lancet towards the east end is of a similar age. At some time it appears to have been widened at the lower end, probably to give more light to the pulpit. The porch that now covers the entry to the church must be considerably later. It has no obvious features by which it can be dated, but is probably 18th or early 19th Century. Over the entrance is a massive straight lintel.

The large east window has three lights and intersecting tracery characteristic of the late 13th Century. High on the west wall is a smaller two light window with "Y" tracery of the same period. The remaining windows on the south wall - both straight-headed - apparently came from the nearby St Wilfrid's, Ribchester, in the 17th Century.

Stydd Church
Unadorned interior
The character of the interior reminds us of how many medieval churches would have been.
The Font inside the Church.

The interior of the church is paved with large stone "flags". The walls are rendered and whitewashed, with only the window surrounds showing the underlying stone. We know that many medieval churches had painted stonework and murals, and floors covered in rushes. Stydd may have conformed to this type.

The furnishings of the church are few and basic. The font is 16th Century, and very similar to that at St Bartholomew's Chipping. It is octagonal with shields and crude carvings on each face. It was the gift of Sir Thomas Pemberton, the Preceptor of Newland.

The south door is medieval, of oak, with metal studs. Leaning against the blocked north doorway, and probably once filling it, stands the remains of another, similar, door.

The pulpit is raised on a rough stone base, and is 17th Century with plain panelling.

Behind the screen is an empty stone coffin and the grave of Roman Catholic Bishop Francis Petre who lived at nearby Showley Hall. His burial was on Christmas Eve of 1775. On the wall a wooden memorial records the restoration of the church in 1925, and its re-opening on September 12th of that year. It notes that the cost of £500 was met by "parishioners and friends". A further plaque records a donation of £40 in 1925 for the repair of the building. It was from The Incorporated Church Building Society and was made "upon condition that all the sittings are for the free use of the parishioners and that a collection be given annually to the Society."

It was originally built in 1136 by the Knights Hospitallers of Wakefield and endowed with 11 farms. It has a Norman doorway and windows on the north side and the south doorway is Early English with waterleaf on the capitals. Inside is a Jacobean pulpit with the remains of a canopy and there are also some rough oak benches against the wall. The chapel was restored in 1925.


Lancashire Churches Web Site - no longer available. Website no longer exists.