HISTORY OF ST. JOHN the BAPTIST PARISH CHURCH,
As a child I attended St. John the Baptist Junior School and under the guidance of Mr. E. Popple I first became interested in the history of both our church and its school.
It was in 1999 that I first discovered, via a booklet entitled: 'Yorkshire History', that Mexborough may have become a Christian settlement as early as 655AD when a battle on the outskirts of Leeds fell to a Christian King and therefore the whole of the Kingdom of Elmet, of which Mexborough was a part, became Christian.
In c1992 an archaeologist, looking around the church, informed me that parts of the foundations appeared, in his opinion, to be of Saxon origin. These findings puzzled me greatly as they contradicted evidence to be found in the Domesday Book, which does not mention the existence of a church at Mexborough at all. Then a couple of years ago the explanation was revealed. Conisbrough and Denaby Heritage Society discovered, when looking through ancient documents written in Old Latin, that Mexborough did have a House of God in Saxon times but that it came under the jurisdiction of Conisbrough Church. In those far off days it was possibly little more than a simple, small, single storey, stone and wood construction of roughly twelve feet square. As it came under the jurisdiction of Conisbrough it was therefore not listed in the Domesday Book under Mexborough but rather under the Mother Church of Conisbrough.
Following the Norman Conquest in 1066 the Normans, wishing to stamp French ways and styles upon their newly conquered country, demolished many churches and replaced them with churches of the Norman style. I believe Mexborough's tiny chapel must have succumbed to this, giving us the reason why there are the foundations of a Saxon building but that all present structural evidence, above the ground, commences from the eleventh century.
At the end of March 2000 our Society's beloved President, Mr Norman Watson died and we were lucky enough to inherit most of his vast archives, which covered the history of Mexborough, some of which, he in turn, had inherited from his uncle Mr. Leonard Harrop. Over the past few months some of the archives have found their way down to the Local History Room and I have found them fascinating reading. Among them Leonard Harrop has made notes concerning the history of St. John the Baptist Parish Church and an article covering the then known history of the church was discovered within one of his notebooks.
This article is as follows.
[Unable to OCR, so available as PDF]
The information held within this small notebook is vast and to cut this short, I believe, would be to do you a disservice I would therefore like to conclude in our next newsletter.
J R Ashby