Church History: Anglo-Saxon & Medieval Period
In the wall on the right of the ancient great door is the medieval “sanctuary bolt”, and, on a pillar nearby, the quaint, 17th-century oak “Remember the Pore” Box. Alleged criminals could bar themselves in the church and claim from within the sanctuary the right to be tried by an ecclesiastical instead of a civil court. During any attacks from hostile forces, the village people could flee to the church, shut the door and draw the heavy bolt across. In A History of the Ancient Parish of Giggleswick Brayshaw and Robinson quote from records to show that during the Scottish raids of 1318-9, Giggleswick, Settle and the surrounding area suffered very badly. They suggest that both church and village may have been destroyed and that the church may have lain in ruins for most of the 14th century. That however, does not quite match the financial records of Finchale Priory, Durham, which had held the living of Giggleswick Church since 1231. See the article Giggleswick Vicars and their times” on this website. Chapter 2 of J.C. Cox’s book The Parish Church of Giggleswick in Craven is dedicated to the Finchale Chartulary detailing the financial dealings of the Priory with Giggleswick Church (and on one occasion, intriguingly, in 1376-7 with Giggleswick and Middleham Churches together). In 1316, the payment in tithes to Finchale Priory from Giggleswick Church was £50, quite a large sum. There were no further entries until 1331 when the much reduced sum was £23.6s.8d. The church never managed to pay £50 annual tithes again for the rest of the 14th century. The figures suggest that the church had been severely damaged, but not utterly destroyed, and that its witness had been maintained, but in a reduced form. There are also applications in the Finchale Priory account rolls for money towards repairs and renewals in Giggleswick Church from near the end of the 14th and throughout the 15th century. This was the start of the practice of maintaining the fabric of the church, and of restoring, rebuilding and making appropriate, “fit for purpose” alterations which continue to the present day.
During the 15th century when the country was torn apart by the Wars of the Roses, Giggleswick was on the winning Lancastrian side and by the end of the century, a major re-structuring took place in the church. The evidence of this early Tudor influence is most visible in the shape of the beautiful east end window.