of our Lady's Choir or Chantry of Our Lady, was not built until 1483-84 by
Chris Willoughby and Robert Dymock. Robert Waterton also left 400 marks for
lands and tenements to be purchased to the value of 24 marks yearly for the
maintenance of 3 Chaplains celebrating divine service in the chapel and for
his soul and that of his wife Cecily.The chapel is rich with lavish detail.
The stonework has been refaced and its details renewed, but the four-light
windows, with flattened heads, east and south, and a rectangular doorway
between the two south windows are of style contemporary with the erection. A
15th century pointed arch opens from the chancel to the chapel, there is
modern walling and a light oak screen in which a narrow door was erected in
Between the chancel and chapel is a beautiful canopied altar tomb of
alabaster bearing the recumbent figures of Robert Waterton and his wife
Cecily, their hands together as if in prayer. Robert Waterton is clad in
plate armour, his feet resting upon a lion, and his head resting upon his
helmet, which bears a plume of feathers. A chain is round his neck and round
his waist is a richly-jewelled belt from which hangs a dagger. He has
striking facial features and beard. His wife is dressed in a long, loose
garment, her richly dressed head resting upon a cushion supported by angels.
Two pet dogs wearing bells are at her feet. Both figures wear massive rings.
The tomb has five niches with arches. In the south/central is a figure - God
the Father - and the arms of the Waterton and Fleming families (Fleming was
Opposite, under the window of the south wall of the
chapel, is the tomb of Lionel Lord Welles and his wife Cecilia, the daughter
of Robert Waterton. That monument is also of alabaster, a fine example of
15th century work. The figure of Lord Welles is clad in armour, his head
rests on his helmet, his feet upon a lion (a lion is part of his crest). He
has a chain round his neck, a belt with jewels and the garter with its motto
on his left leg. Over his armour is a surcoat with the arms of the Welles.
On the left of Lord Welles is his wife, her head, with mitred headdress, is
richly dressed, resting upon a cushion supported by angels. She wears a
mantle embroidered with the arms of the Welles family. At her feet are two
small dogs, one asleep, the other pulling his mistress's mantle with his
teeth. The tomb bears the arms of Waterton, Welles and Willoughby families.
Lionel Lord Welles was killed at the Battle of Towton in 1461. His body
was brought back to Methley in a sack - a Lancastrian Lord brought back to
his allied Lancastrian Methley home. His remains were hidden in a sack to
prevent them being mutilated by his enemies.
The Chapel contains other fine monuments to the Savile
family. On the north side is a large monument by Peter Scheemakers with
effigies of Charles Savile, semi-recumbent, who died 1741, and his wife
Aletheia, who died in 1759, seated holding an open book. The arch under
which this monument stands was, until 1901, blocked by a wall. The lowest
part, until 1938 was protected by iron-spiked railings. In 1938 a light open
screen was erected of 3 arches with angels above columns, also a slender
waxed oak screen and a narrow door between the chancel and chapel (1938).
On the south wall is a large monument with semi-recumbent figure of John
Savile, first Earl of Mexborough (died 1748), by the sculptor Wilton, and
erected by his widow. There are murals to other members of the Savile
family. Between the tombs of the Watertons and Welles, Dorothy, the third
wife of John Savile and widow of Sir Martin Frobisher, is buried. The floor
is of chequered marble.
The roof is original 15th century: flat panelled, decorated on its
timber framework with armorials (some wrong) and winged angels. The roof
subjects were recoloured and gilded in 1954. The inaccurate 18th century
paintings of heraldic shields on the roof were continued in later
The four-light east window contains some very old glass
collected from various windows in the church. Some of the glass is 15th
century and is akin to that of the same period in York Minster.
The oak altar table, together with cross and candlesticks and kneeling
benches, were all designed by Robert Thompson, the "mouse man" of Kilburn,
and installed in 1948. The seats bear a "lizard" trademark. Fragments of
armour and old banners are displayed. There is a miner's lamp as sanctuary
light over the aumbry.
In October 1987 the Waterton tombs were removed for a
major restoration. A nationwide appeal for financial assistance was launched
in the 1980s with David Waterton-Anderson, descendant of Robert Waterton, as
chairman. The tombs were taken to a Northamptonshire workshop, dried for
several months in a controlled atmosphere, cleaned and then treated with a
waterproof substance. The total cost was more than £30,000. One of the first
large donations came from the Henry Moore Foundation. The Castleford-born
sculptor frequently visited Methley in his youth - he had an aunt living in
the village - and he often visited the church and the Waterton Chapel. He is
reported to have said that the architecture of St. Oswald's, especially the
corbels in the chancel, aroused his interest in the subject.
The chapel floor, roof, windows and other monuments were also needing
repair. The original tiles of the floor round the monuments were reproduced
and newly laid.