DESPITE nine centuries of history - possibly more - it might be said that Felkirk St Peter’s Church yields more questions than it does answers.

The church, built on a small plot of land near South Hiendley, is thought to have been a site of Christian worship since Anglo Saxon times.

But its recorded history begins in 1120, when the church came under the control of monks at Nostell Priory, at which time it served the parish of Hoderode.

Since then, the Grade II-listed church has seen nine centuries of worship, marriage and christenings amid changing ownership and shifting parish boundaries - but a lot of that history is yet to be re-discovered.

And with Felkirk’s 900th anniversary approaching next year, a group of committed volunteers are looking to make the landmark a community celebration.

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“Nobody really knows the history of Felkirk, it’s a bit of a mystery,” said volunteer Vicki Vibert.

“Lots of historical information exists but we can’t get access to it all.

“Although we are celebrating 900 years, there has been worship on this site for well over 900.

“But we’re not forcing religion down anyone’s throats. We’re inviting people to enjoy the history of the place, which anyone can.

“It’s still an active place of worship, but it’s much more - we have weddings, birthdays and christenings.

“It’s part of the local heritage, a landmark - it’s a truly beautiful place.”

Every stone and wooden beam holds centuries of history and as such needs painstaking maintenance to retain it.

The font, a plain stone basin and pedestal, is thought to be one of the oldest still in continuous use - because of its size, it is believed to date from the 10th century when baptism meant immersing a child fully in water.

It had to be replaced in 1875 after being discarded, before the original font was found in 1931 being used by a farmer - with the stand rediscovered in a garden - and returned.

The north-facing stained glass window is currently undergoing a £30,000 restoration, and the rest of the church shows a mix of Norman, Tudor and Saxon influence.

Adding to the patchwork quilt of the previous 900 years, Vicki says that a lot of local people ‘don’t know they’re in our parish’ - principally because Felkirk, as a place, doesn’t exist.

She says there are a few theories as to where the church got its name - it may be of Scandinavian origin, as a corruption of the word for ‘church of wood or planks’, or from the Anglo Saxon word for ‘church of the field’.

Hodroyd Hall, a short walk up Kirkgate Lane, is the only remaining evidence of the village of Hoderode, and became most prominently linked to the church through the Monckton family. John Monckton, who became the first Viscount Galway in 1727, had his seat at the 17th century building and was a patron of the church along with his family.

“The house and the church grew up together really,” said Stephen Aviss, a Surrey-based opera singer who recently bought Hodroyd Hall with a view to renovating it.

“There’s always been a fascinating link between the two.

“When I first came here, the church was the first place I stopped at and it was open, which I thought was an extraordinary symbol of welcoming to the community.

“I’m a proper ‘blow in’ as they say around here.

“I was performing at Opera North in Leeds and had been looking to buy somewhere up north, and just as I was thinking about it I saw an email with Hodroyd Hall on. I fell in love with the house straight away.

“It’s so good for events, but this is what they did back then - they entertained.”

Stephen added he wanted to see the Grade II-listed building, which is said to have housed Oliver Cromwell, ‘brought back to life’.

As part of the Felkirk’s 900th anniversary celebrations, he hopes to host a number of events at Hodroyd Hall including a Valentine’s Day ball and a Yorkshire Day gala, alongside the other events the group has planned.

For more information, search for Felkirk St Peter’s Church on Facebook.