St Wilfrid’s Church – its secret past and hidden secrets
The Church of St Wilfrid in Barrow dates back to Anglo-Saxon times and has been a place of worship and community for over a thousand years. Dedicated to the Anglo-Saxon Saint St. Wilfrid and gifted to the medieval Knights Hospitallers in 1165, our church building has changed little over time but it is full of unique surprises.
Lying on the north side of the River Trent like the village it serves, it was little known.
Built between two very famous churches – St Wynstan’s at Repton, and St Mary’s and St Michael’s in Melbourne, historians and archaeologists have paid it little attention and matters of ‘misinformation’ once stated, have been repeated and occasionally elaborated in the retelling.
We now know it was built in Anglo-Saxon times – we know that not only did the Knights Hospitallers own and develop the building, but they also ran a ‘camera’ there (a small establishment with land) and it is believed that the bailiff who supervised the camera lived in a building next to the church.
We have found that the small drawing of a Knight was not drawn by choir boys as had been suggested, but is now believed to be from the 14th century.
We have discovered that the slightly damaged and rather dirty effigy of a priest is possibly the oldest example of an alabaster effigy of a priest in the country and that the puzzling formation of the north nave wall and its very low squint could be the marks left by an anchorite cell.
We continue to investigate.