Described by Pevsner as “one of the largest and stateliest Churches in Yorkshire”, All Saints’ Church or Rotherham Minster as it is more commonly known now, sits on a grassy knoll above All Saint’s Square. Its spire can be seen across the town. It is a big church, almost too big to photograph.
The church is built on the northern edge of a ridge of sandstone running from Rotherham to Harthill. This was an important north – south route heading to a ford across the River Don. The Saxons settled the area and there was probably a small wooden Saxon Church here by the C10th. Domesday Book records a mill, church serving a large area and a priest. The present church is the third to be but on the site.
The nave dates from the C13th. The chancel and Jesus Chapel were rebuilt in the C14th. The tower, transepts and clerestory are C15th. The building was restored in the C18th and again by George Gilbert Scott in the late C19th.
It is a splendid cruciform structure built of red sandstone which can look dour on a dull day, with battlemented roofs, crocketted pinnacles and large traceried windows. Money was no object when it was built.
The inside of the church is also impressive with some lovely C19th and C20th stained glass, C15th choir stalls, a Jacobean pulpit and superb carved and gilded bosses in the nave.
On entering the church, the impression is size with an arcade of tall fluted pillars with a narrow band of carved foliage round the top separating the nave and side aisles. Above are the plain glass clerestory windows. The flat tie beamed roof with its beautifully carved and gilded bosses is C13th.
The dark wood Jacobean pulpit stands against a south arcade pillar and has highly carved panels. The tester above is C18th.
On the south wall is a monument memorial erected by the parents to their only son Leslie Peech Aizlewood who served with the airforce in the First World War and died in 1918. Above is a statue of St George killing the dragon. The brass panels below are a memorial to all the officers and men from Rotherham who died in the Great War.
There is a modern mass altar under the tower crossing with modern limed oak pews by it. The dark oak priest’s chair and bench on either side are C15th. There are more C15th pews in the chancel. This has a lovely painted panel roof with the white Tudor rose in the panels.
The east window is C19th and part of the Gilbert Scott restoration. The centre panel features Christ in Majesty with scenes of the crucifixion and nativity below. The painted reredos has Jesus as the Good Shepherd in the centre with the four evangelists.
The south transept is used to serve coffee on weekday mornings and has splendid C19th stained glass windows. Off it, and through a C15th carved oak screen, is the Jesus Chapel which is reserved for private prayer. This has a bright blue painted panel ceiling with gilded bosses dating from the C15th. There are stone and brass memorials on the walls and the Roll of Honour for the dead of the parish from the Great War. On the south wall is a brass copy detailing the memorials to previous benefactors of the church, school, poor and the town of Rotherham. The originals were removed during the C19th restoration. The reredos has Christ crucified with St John and Virgin Mary. The east window is 1921. There is a squint giving a view of the high altar.
The north chapel is unused and has a table tomb with a splendid brass to Robert Swifte who died in 1652.
The church is open Mondays – Fridays from 9-1 and 2-4. It is not open on Wednesday afternoons. Saturday opening is 9-12. On weekday mornings, coffee is served in the south transept between 10-12.
There is no parking by the Minster. The post code is S60 1PD and the grid reference is SK 428929.
There are more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/yorkshire/south_yorkshire/rotherham_minster/index.html