HDR – St Mary Lead Church, near Towton Battlefield, North Yorkshire, originally uploaded by Tiddler.
This isolated fourteenth century building stands in a field close to the site of the battle of Towton, near Tadcaster in Yorkshire. Fought in the driving snow on Palm Sunday 1461, this was one the bloodiest but most decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses and it ultimately brought Edward IV to the throne. 10,000 men are said to have perished that day and the little stream, Cock Beck, which you have to cross to get to St Mary’s, is said to have run red with the blood of those who had died in the battle.
This simple building has Norman origins, but is mainly fourteenth century. It has been shorn of its chancel and it seems to be highly charged with the memory of this Yorkist victory. It’s damp and atmospheric interior has rustic fittings, including a set of medieval rough-sawn benches and a seventeenth century triple decker pulpit. A medieval altar stone has been reset at the east end. Before the altar step are a row of thirteenth century coffin lids, mostly decorated with heraldry and comemmorating members of the Tyas family, including Baldwin and Marjorie Tyas and their son Franco. A single slab is decorated with a cross and chalice, denoting the burial of a priest. There is no settlement at Lead, just lots of sheep in the field surrounding the church and the building has been long disused. It is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust and is well worth a detour if you are ever heading towards York.