Since being rescued by a group of walkers in 1931, St Mary’s has been known as the Ramblers’ Church. The repairs made then are recorded on the back of the church door. The church stands alone in the middle of a field filled with the bumps and furrows of earthworks that indicate the site of a Medieval manor house, for which St Mary’s was probably originally the chapel.
Nearby is Towton, the site of the War of the Roses battle, believed to be bloodiest in English history which brought the Wars of the Roses to an end in 1461. Ten thousand men are said to have been killed, and Cock Beck, the little stream which you cross to get to St Mary’s, is said to have run red with blood. You can find monuments to crusading knights in this tiny 14th-century church.
Despite its awesome history, St Mary’s is a peaceful place. The tiny rectangular building is very simple. It was probably built by the Tyas family, whose massive grave slabs are set into the floor. Carved with heraldic symbols and inscriptions, and dating from the 13th-century, they are an important and interesting collection.
Later additions were made to the church in the 18th-century, with a rustic pulpit, clerk’s pew, reading desk and painted texts.