We’ve often driven past St Andrew’s Church in Middleton, but today was the first time we’d visited it. It was added to the list when I discovered it has Viking crosses. The Rector was very apologetic when I emailed to check on opening times that their big famous Viking cross wouldn’t be there when we visited. It was on display at the British Museum on the Vikings Exhibition. He needn’t have worried as the other crosses more than made up for any disappointment.
There has been a church here since Saxon times and the base of the tower is Saxon. On the west wall is a blocked off Saxon doorway with a later oval window at the top. Embedded in the wall above is an 8thC Anglian cross. The top with battlements is later as are the large bell windows.
The nave is Saxon/Norman although the clerestory and side aisles were added later, as was the south porch with its sundial dated 1782. The chancel was rebuilt in the 19thC but in the style of the 14thC.
There are stone benches on the walls of the porch and it has a lovely 13thC doorway with a trefoil arch above. The nail studded door has log narrow carved arches with a portcullis effect carving above. On the inside, horizontal and vertical bars give added strength.
Inside, the nave is plain, almost austere with the clear glass clerestory windows allowing plenty of light into the nave. 12thC Norman arcades with solid round towers and round arches separate nave and side aisles. The North arcade is earlier and the capitals are less fancy.
At the back is a simple round stone font with a tall pyramid cover.
The panelled wood pulpit is very plain but has a fancy sounding board above with a compass design underneath. John Wesley preached here in 16th July 1766, using John 4 v26 as his text. This must have been a momentous occasion as it is mentioned with pride in the church guide.
The chancel has a hammer beam roof with bosses. There is a massive organ on the north wall and a simple altar beneath the stained glass east window. At the side is an old chest. Some of the choir stalls are 15thC and still have misericords.
The highlight of the church are the 10thC Saxon crosses.
Cross A is at the back of the nave and stands about 3’ high. It is a beautifully carved wheel head cross with the figure of a hunter with a spear on the shaft. Below him is a stag with big antlers.
The other crosses are in the north aisle. Cross C has a raised boss in the centre of the cross and beautiful interlinked scroll work on the shaft.
All that is left of Cross D is part of the shaft with the carving of a man with forked beard.
Cross E is part of the top and base which have been joined together and have very eroded interlaced designs.
By the crosses is an old stone coffin with hog’s back lid with a sword carved on it. There is also a lead panel from the original roof, with graffiti feet and hand print.
The remains of a fireplace at the end of the north aisle dates from the time this was the vestry.
Middleton is set off the main road and screened by trees. It is definitely worth a stop for the Saxon crosses The Church is open daily and there is is parking outside on the road.