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Friends of Lead Church


About St Mary's Church, Lead

St Mary, Lead stands alone, set at some distance from the road. It is a small church, no more than 18ft (5.5m) long, in the middle of a field that is normally home to grazing sheep.The building, a simple rectangle with a bell-cote at the western end, is thought to date from the 14th century.We know, however, from records such as the Domesday survey of 1086, that the area of Lead (the name derives from the Early English word ‘hleodu’) was populated before this date. Therefore, it is possible that an earlier church structure might have existed although no mention of it was made in 1086.

Although St Mary’s has never served as a parish church, it is clear that it has been used as a private chapel. If this is the case it is likely that the local noble family who were familiar with the church retained it for their own use, and by doing so excluded those residents in the adjacent villages from using it. Alternatively, the building might have offered hospitality and the opportunity for quiet contemplation and prayer to travellers making their way to or from the larger medieval cities, particularly Leeds and York.



The church is thought to have been positioned near to the manor house. From the 12th century this property belonged to the Tyas family. Their connection with the church is a lasting one: four members of the family are now commemorated at the church. The Tyas family paid homage to and gave their allegiance to the de Lacy family and it is possible that they may also have had some influence in the building of the present church. The de Lacy family was a powerful Norman family, who owned a great deal of land in the area. It is thought that the Tyas family settled at Lead during the 12th century and accompanied the de Lacys to the Crusades. The Tyas  family connection with Lead survived until the 14th century, when the Skargill family inherited the manor house through marriage

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