HISTORY OF ST. GILES

The Church in Copmanthorpe has its roots in the Roman and Saxon Church, being from earliest times within the ancient parish of St Mary Bishophill Junior.  The chapelries of Upper Poppleton and Copmanthorpe were separated from it in 1844 and divided into two parishes in 1866.  Copmanthorpe had its own church building, St Giles’, long before.  The Norman building of the late 12th Century is somewhat unusual, but is similar to nearby Askham Bryan and Askham Richard, which date from about the same time.  Originally a plain rectangular structure, it has been modified and enlarged down the centuries.

Comparison of the windows in the south wall suggests that the door was on the south side, as in the design of Askham Bryan and Askham Richard and not as now at the west end.

Extensive restoration and enlargement was undertaken in 1889 when a new chancel, with east windows by the famous Kemp, a vestry and an organ chamber were added, together with new flooring, new seating and a new staircase to the gallery.  Walls were rebuilt where necessary and re-pointing done.

An inner porch was formed and panelling from the nave was used to panel the chancel (where it remains today); the nave was re-panelled with wood from the old seating, but this was removed, possibly in 1916, when the gallery seems to have been taken down.  Further additions include the porch and vestry/kitchen in 1977 and the St Giles’ Centre in 1992.  Thanks to a generous legacy and other gifts the church was able to create a narthex at the west end, incorporating accessible toilets, remodelling of the chancel to create more space and updating and extending the kitchen facilities in 2013. 

Bells: In 1967, one bell, dating from 1870, was re-cast, whilst the other was replaced.  The original bell could be seen near the church door until thieves stole it in 2011.

Parish registers, all except those in current use, are kept in the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research, at the University of York.  Baptisms and burials date from 1879 and marriages from 1845.

Burial Ground: Although in use from 1732, the burial ground was not officially enclosed until 1750, the earliest recorded interment being on 7th November 1759.  A cemetery was established on Moor Lane, when in 1926 it was too full to take any further full burials.  The churchyard remains open for the interment of cremated remains.