Pontefract All Saints Heritage
Home Union Jack
19Century All Saints Heritage
Home page


It is thought that there are only two such stair-cases in the British Isles namely Tamworth Parish Church and All Saints' Pontefract.

There is probably another in Normandy.
Both churches came under the Duchy of Lancaster, and it may well be that the same architect and builder were responsible for the unusual design and construction.

The stair-case of All Saints’, having a single newal, has the internal access by a small doorway leading from the North wall of the recently extended Nave, while the external access is in the corner between the North Transept and the Nave, the latter being used regularly by the bell-ringers.
Both stairways lead up to the bell-ringers’chamber.

My personal opinion is that in the 14th centrury there was a rood screen, typically of richly carved wood or stone, separating the nave from the chancel of a church.
A double spiral staircase would give access to a preaching podium on the Rood Screen, without the preacher having to mix with the bellringers.
There is evidence if a doorway onto the Rood Screen, one rotation up the staircase using the Nave access door. This is currently filled with stone and plaster on the Nave face.

The internal access has only recently been restored consequent upon the new extensions constructed during 1966/67.

Formerly it was blocked up by rubble disposed of during the building of the Transepts and fore-shortened Nave and Chancel in 1832/and by the bellows of the Organ erected in 1937. The entrance was plastered over.

Originally, the stair-case led to the top of the octagonal lantern, 82 feet above the ground, as a single spiral (observe the model). But that part above the bell chamber has been replaced by a long stepladder. There were 99 steps; 60 to the old l4th century bell chamber and 39 more to the lantern.

The model, photographed here is in church, you only have to ask to see it.

Stair Model
References Tew T.W.(1874)Ecclesiological and Naturalist Society, 25th July
Brindley T P (1968) personal communication.
H Maud
Thanks to


kids 19Century All Saints
Heritage Home page
Family EH logo
This document maintained in the UK by .
Material Copyright © 2001 Derek C Johnstone
Phone +44 1977 796339 99B Home page

We have tried to keep this site very simple, to reduce loading times

Last Updated 10th October 2017