A church stood on this site as early as 1190, but there is not much known about it. In the mid 15th century the Church of St Peter and St Paul underwent enlargement. Ralph Pudsay, the lord of the manor of Bolton, oversaw the work. He enlarged the nave and it is thought the chancel was lengthened at the same time.
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The 15th century tower was added afterwards, and all work was finished 1466-67. The tower has been restored twice, the last time in 1994. It supposedly was designed by King Henry VI who sheltered in Bolton Hall in 1464. The belfry has a ring of three bells with Latin inscription.
The chancel underwent another lengthening and lastly his grandson, in the 16th century, built the chapel south of the chancel.
The oak door is dated 1705 on its exterior. It has 560 studs in it, most square pegs in round holes. A wooden bar slots into the stonework to secure it. Near the main south doorway are the oldest things belonging to the church. The stones are thought to be early 13th century, while the lancet west window at the south aisle end is from the same time. On the south side of the chancel under an arch is the Pudsay tomb, the memorial to the churchís restorer (d.1468). His three wives and 25 children are depicted on it.
The altar rails are dated 1704. The font is 16th century with eight shields around the bowl. They depict the Pudsays and their family connections. A mouse, the signature of Robert Thompsonís Kilburn workshop is carved on the oak cover. Many of the pews are carved with the date 1694 and the initials of their first owners.
The nave furniture dates from the same period, while the priestís stall and choir stalls, lectern, and pulpit are from 1886. Behind the pulpit is a 1703 oak board, part of an earlier pulpit. At one time there was a rood loft, but it was taken down during the reformation.
The Lady Chapel was once private. Its pews and altar arrangement were set out in 1956. The Pudsay chapel was built in the early 16th century. On the walls are memorials to the family as well as the Dawson and Littledale families. In the south-west corner of the chapel are three brass memorials dating from the 18th century. High on the walls are four painted boards with armorial bearings.
St Peter and St Paul Church
Tel. 0 1200 441 154
Open: if closed, notice is posted re obtaining key
Bolton by Bowland, Lancashire
On a minor road off the A59 north of Clitheroe
Photos © by Barbara Ballard and courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows: church exterior by Humphrey Bowland; two photos of church interior by Alexander Kapp