Welcome to our village church which is dedicated to St Bartholomew; one of the 12 apostles. For a small pre-Victorian church St Bartholomew's has an impressive tower crowned with pinnacles and castellations and stands at the highest point in the village. The church forms a distinct landmark easily seen when approaching the village from most directions and is most striking when travelling to Arkendale from the neighbouring village of Ferrensby, one mile to the west. Now floodlit, the tower looks resplendent and prominent to all who view it against the dark night sky.
Arkendale did not become a parish in its own right until 1889. Before this date the main village was part of the large parish of Knaresborough and the area known as 'Low Arkendale' was part of Farnham parish along with Ferrensby. This meant the proper name for the church building was a 'chapel of ease', so named because such buildings eased the people of the journey to the parish church; the incumbent was known as a perpetual curate. The perpetual curate at Arkendale ministered under the patronage of the vicar of Knaresborough. Whilst officially called a chapel until 1889 there would be situations where the building was referred to as the church.
BUILDING THE CHURCH AND INFORMATION ABOUT THE PREVIOUS CHAPEL
Built in 1836 of white brick (now weathered to grey) this was the first church building consecrated in the newly formed diocese of Ripon (now the diocese of Ripon and Leeds), by the first Bishop the Right Reverend Dr. Charles Thomas Longley, on 16th January 1837.
The church is built on the site of the previous chapel, of which little is known apart from information available in old records. One image survives of the building, which is a small water colour painting, dated 1825 and presently displayed on the south wall of the nave in the corner near to the organ. It shows the south aspect (the same as the image of our present church shown above). The former building appears tiny, but it was clearly larger than the picture conveys. In one submission to secure funding for the re-building the old chapel was described as "built partly of stone and brick; internally it is 42 feet long, 17 feet wide and 11 foot 6 inches high". The dimensions of the nave of the present church are 49 feet long by 23 feet wide, excluding the area of the tower and the sanctuary, which provides some indication of the land area covered by the old building in relation to the present church.
It is known that a church/chapel building was erected in Arkendale in 1393 and it is likely that this was the building that survived until 1836.
A plaque at the back of the church on the north wall of the nave records funds obtained for the augmentation of the 'living' in the eighteenth century i.e. the source of income used to pay the incumbent. The sum was used to purchase glebe land which would bring in a regular return.
ALTERATIONS TO THE CHURCH IN 1888
The interior of the building underwent a big transformation in 1888 at the cost of approximately £300 paid for by Samuel James Brown of Loftus Hill, near Ferrensby. An inscription at the bottom of the east windows records the benevolence of the benefactor. The work involved taking out a flat plastered ceiling and supporting beams and timbers and replacing with the fine shaped pitch pine roof/ceiling you see today. The roof height of the sanctuary was raised and finished with a roof to match the nave, the height of the east windows was extended and a much larger arch created between the two areas replacing the small opening and two adjacent openings to staircases to the vestry and school room below. A new vestry was built with entrance from the north wall. New floor tiles replaced flag stones and the two stone staircases were blocked off. New choir stalls were provided with richly carved and moulded ends and these are still in place today. Heating was provided courtesy of "a new hot water apparatus" fixed around the walls and new leaded/stained glass was provided throughout.
A memorial on the south wall of the nave records the accidental death in New Zealand in 1846 of Samuel William Brown one of the sons of Samuel James Brown.
BAPTISMS, MARRIAGES, BURIALS AND PARISH REGISTERS
The new building was registered for marriages and burials in 1837. Prior to this parishioners had travelled to Knaresborough or Farnham respectively for these services. Baptisms had commenced at Arkendale in 1780. The old parish registers for Arkendale are deposited with the county records office in Northallerton. The first register for baptisms has long been missing and correspondence about this was recorded in 1833. Duplicate entries of these earliest baptisms occur in the parish registers for Knaresborough. The small churchyard to the south of the church was used between 1837 and 1893. Since that time burials have taken place in the cemetery which is opposite the community hall.
A list of the clergymen who have presided as both perpetual curates and vicars of Arkendale appears on the back wall of the nave near the font. The list is complete since 1737, but prior to this only occasional dates and names of earlier clergy is known. Rev. Richard Swale is Arkendale's longest serving clergyman commencing his period of office in November 1737 and dying in June 1789. Henry Stocken was the dynamic man who secured the funding and brought about the building of the church in 1836 and subsequently the vicarage in 1840. Another long serving and fondly remembered vicar was Rev. Henry Cradock Knight who served at Arkendale from 1903 to 1936; a plaque on the north wall near the pulpit records his ministry in the village.
With Arkendale being a small community it has often shared its incumbent with nearby communities. This occurred in the 18th century and also throughout the 20th century and so continues, whereas the 19th century, a time of strong religious revival and growth, clergy were licensed singly to Arkendale.
THE SCHOOL ROOM
During the mid 19th century the crypt area under the church was used as the village school as well as accommodating the vestry. The school room, paid for by local people, had been created at the same time as the re-building of the church. Being damp it was not an ideal and was replaced in 1867 by a new school purposely built in the village by the then lord of the manor, Sir William Eden. The school closed in the late 1940s and is now a house.
The present organ was installed in 2006 which also provided opportunity to create more space at the rear of the church where the previous much larger organ had stood for almost fifty years.
For further reading see - 'Arkendale: its church and people'
by Ruth Wilcock, copies of which are available in Knaresborough and Harrogate libraries.
Geoff Marshall - May 2010