St Mary's Church, Lead, North Yorkshire

Address: Lead, Saxton, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, LS24 9QN
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The Ramblers' Church

Since being rescued by a group of walkers in 1931, St Mary's has been known as the Ramblers’ Church. The repairs made then are recorded on the back of the church door. The church stands alone in the middle of a field filled with the bumps and furrows of earthworks that indicate the site of a Medieval manor house, for which St Mary’s was probably originally the chapel.

Nearby is Towton, the site of the War of the Roses battle, believed to be bloodiest in English history which brought the Wars of the Roses to an end in 1461. Ten thousand men are said to have been killed, and Cock Beck, the little stream which you cross to get to St Mary’s, is said to have run red with blood. You can find monuments to crusading knights in this tiny 14th-century church.

Despite its awesome history, St Mary’s is a peaceful place. The tiny rectangular building is very simple. It was probably built by the Tyas family, whose massive grave slabs are set into the floor. Carved with heraldic symbols and inscriptions, and dating from the 13th-century, they are an important and interesting collection.

Later additions were made to the church in the 18th-century, with a rustic pulpit, clerk’s pew, reading desk and painted texts.

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How to find us

To locate this church on a map, click on the 'View on map' link that appears below the address information at the top of the page.

Road directions

5 miles south of Tadcaster, off B1217; church in a field opposite the Crooked Billet pub near Saxton

Public transport information

Nearest railway station: Church Fenton (2 miles)

OS Reference No.

SE 464 369

What’s on & news

News

06/01/14 We would like to warn all our volunteers and visitors to take care when visiting our churches due to the…

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Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

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Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

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Image gallery

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Images from Flickr

The CCT is grateful to the Flickr group, Friends of the Churches Conservation Trust, for the images shown here. CCT is not responsible for the quality or content of images taken from Flickr.


Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

Useful information

Why not make your visit more enjoyable and informed by finding out more about this church and the CCT before you visit?

You can download a range of publications below including the relevant county guide, and any walkround guides we have for this church.

 

 

 

PDF iconYorkshire County Guide (PDF, 4.9mb)

 This free of charge short guide contains details of all the churches CCT cares for in North, South and West Yorkshire. Printed copies of the county guides are also available at the church.

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Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

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Have you visited this church?

Why not share your experience with us?

Comments

  1. wayne heppenstall (05 Oct 2011, 14:33)

    Stunning little church in a unique location, so many people drive by without stopping, do yourself a favour , stop, walk, visit and enjoy a few minutes peace.

  2. Angela Mary (26 Feb 2012, 22:25)

    We decided to have a walk across the field today to where it is,our family after a delicious Sunday dinner at The Crooked Billet pub..and looked quite a beautiful sight smack in the middle of the field.., it is and well cared looked after a credit to who does it takes the time..and noticed some lovely flowers/ carnations adorned the altar and a very nice touch lovingly placed there,,.... very peaceful and calming just sat inside for awhile especially in this day and age where it's so fast living , no one's time to stop and smell the lovely flowers along lifes way,and just gaze at nice scenery and ancient buildings,and churches..steeped in history .. we quite enjoyed it .. and was even more suprised to find the church door was left open like it used to be all hours.. and a nice welcome to all sign there..all in all a very nice visit.. for awhile away from the hectic pace of modern day life(: and well done to all who take care and look after it, you should be proud..of it..a credit to you too..keep up the good work....

  3. Linda (17 Apr 2012, 20:17)

    A Lovely Church, we were walking from Aberford when the hail stones came bouncing down so we stopped at the church for shelter, once inside we could see what people have been missing by walking past.

  4. Tim Tyus (13 May 2012, 16:38)

    I would like to know more info on this church.. from my research my ancestors built this church can anyone give me more info on this little church please.. I would like one day soon to come there and see it..

  5. Andrew Thompson (07 Jun 2012, 07:23)

    My sister & her husband who live in Wakefield showed myself & my wife Lynn this church during a recent visit to stay with them.
    As I am interested in old churches I was fascinated when I saw St Marys & thought it was a credit to the people who look after it.
    Well worth a visit if ever you are in the area.

  6. scott dawsey (17 Jul 2012, 18:52)

    Tim Tyus I too am a Tyus decendant I have seen a painting of this
    Chapel in my Uncle Marvin Maxwells house. While on a vist to Italty
    and England I went to North Yorkshire to locate it. We did, how
    humbling it was to walk the floors and view the final resting place of
    our ancestors. I have a booklet on the chur ch with it's history will
    be glad to share it with you scottdawsey00@msn.com
    I come off the William Gilliam Tyus family brother of Lewis Tyus of
    atauaga co. alabama

  7. Neil Skinner (28 Dec 2012, 17:19)

    Invisited this small yet fascinating church yesterday whilst on a walk organised by 'Meet Up'. One thing in particular intrigues me, why is it 'Lead' ? Is that 'Lead' as in heavy base metal ? or 'lead as in to direct or a leash ?

  8. Richard M Herbert (03 Jan 2013, 18:42)

    Visited this delightful little church today with my grandson (5) having heard about it when we visited Towton the last time I was on leave.
    Even he sat with me for a moment, in silence, as we absorbed the atomosphere together.
    Now I know my New year's resolution to join the CCT and help keep this little church alive for others to enjoy.

  9. Peter Baby (27 Jan 2013, 19:18)

    Peter Baby (27 Jan 2013)
    I had driven past this isolated Church many times and admired it's size and location.
    Today I decided to pull into the lay-by and walk to it. Cock Beck was overflowing into the field after the melting snow and it was a wet and soggy walk but the effort was worth it.
    I didn't expect the Church to be open, on opening the door I was shocked to find the furniture and wall plaques in tact and the altar decorated with winter greenery and 2 vases of flowers. Obviously people look after the place and all credit to them.
    The feeling of history was immense and overwhelming and sad that people no longer meet and worship together here.

  10. David Chatterton (13 Feb 2013, 13:40)

    A wonderfully atmospheric little church, beautifully restored and very well looked after. I was there many years ago, but the place has stayed in my memory ever since. A very special place, and the connection with King Richard III brought it back to mind with the recent discovery of his remains.

  11. chris sykes (19 Jul 2013, 20:40)

    I decided to come home from work a different way and stopped to check out this church. So isolated, yet stuffed with information, and wonderfully peaceful. Makes you wonder about why it is there, and also how it fitted into the Battle of Towton, situated only a mile away.

  12. Susie S (22 Jul 2013, 18:39)

    We visited this church on July 10th after lunch at the Crooked Billet. What a wonderful, romantic, and incredibly special place. A most unexpected delight and pleasure. We've made a donation to support the efforts of the Churches Conservation trust in gratitude.

  13. JEFF BANKS (18 Oct 2013, 12:50)

    i have visited the church many times , its got its own little bit of energy , for all the years its been stood there, and all the things its been through its still got good vibes ,if u sit relax and open your mind u can imagaine weddings , xmas service easter , all the things to do with a village church, i would like to know if people could get married there,KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK

  14. jeff banks (18 Nov 2013, 17:07)

    hi , we have been many times to the church, it just seems a shame it,s not used any more , me and my girlfriend , just wondered if we could use, the church to get married in .as the setting is perfect ,and the church could use the funds to keep it going,THANKS jeff banks

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Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

St Mary's Church, Lead, North Yorkshire

Keyholder

If the access information for this church is listed as 'Keyholder nearby', this means that the key is kept by one of our invaluable volunteer 'keyholders', who usually live just a short walk from the church and can give visitors the key; sometimes this is a nearby hotel, pub, library, art gallery or other venue. You will find instructions explaining how to get the key when you arrive at the church.

Facilities

Due to the historic nature of our buildings, only a very small number of them have heating or running water meaning that they can be cold, and very rarely have toilet facilities. The lighting is usually operated via a 'push button' timer or a motion sensor. We do apologise for any inconvenience the lack of facilities may cause.