St. Giles Church is the dominant feature of the town’s Market Place, and is often referred to as ‘The Church at the Heart of the Town’. Its unique, octagonal tower, visible from miles around, proclaims the Glory of God to the people of Pontefract and visitors to the town.
St Giles Church is a Grade II* listed building, with a bell tower housing a peal of 10 bells. It is situated within the Pontefract Town Centre Conservation Area. There is no churchyard attached to the church.
The church is mainly Georgian in aspect although foundations of the Norman chapel have been discovered, and the existing North Arcade is believed to be of 14th /15th Century origin. It will accommodate a maximum of 400/500 worshippers in traditional wooden pews in the Nave and the South Aisle, supplemented by chairs in the North Aisle. There are carvings on the pews reserved for the commanding officer of the local garrison and the “Mayor’s Pew” which also accommodates the brass holder which held the Mace.
A number of memorials are located on the north and south interior walls and the west wall accommodates the Royal Coat of Arms of George II commemorating the construction of the West Gallery in 1740.
The Sanctuary Chapel was previously part of the Chantry Chapel built around 1300AD. It was demolished and replaced with the Sanctuary in 1868/69 by the Earl of Harewood, the Lay Proprietor. The tall Nave has a distinguished Tudor (16th Century) wooden ceiling and the Font is believed to be over 550 years old. Its origin is unknown.
The stained glass windows are fine examples of Victorian stained glass and depict biblical passages. They are dedicated to long serving Vicars and members of notable Pontefract families. The Eagle Lectern was given by the Reverend James Rhodes of Carlton to commemorate the re-opening of the church following the last major restoration of the interior of the building in 1869.
The North side of the Chancel accommodates a Binns pipe organ installed in 1895, that was refurbished in 1954 followed by a complete rebuild in 2003 and is considered to be one of the finest organs in the north of England.
|Season Dates||Opening Hours|
|Notes||Open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 3pm
Saturday 8.30am to 1pm and Sunday 8am to 12.30pm
Market Place, Pontefract, WF8 1AT
Map reference: SE 455219 Lat: 53.69156 Long: -1.31243