Tockwith is one mile north of the B1665 York to Wetherby Road and was formally a township under the nearby Bilton in Ainsty. It became a separate parish in 1866 and, until this church was built, regular services were held at St Helen’s Bilton and villagers had to walk up to two miles for services. From 1866 the village supported two churches: the first Wesleyan Chapel was built in 1798 at a cost of £600 and the village church, the Church of the Epiphany, was built between 1864 and 1866. This situation continued until July 2008 when sadly the chapel had to close. However, it is still standing with its own graveyard located at the front and rear.
In 1864, Edward York of Wighill expressed a desire to finance the building of a new church in Tockwith. Sadly he died before anything was started, so his wife decided to build the church in his memory. The site was donated by Andrew Montague which, according to the Yorkshire Gazette dated 9th July 1864, covered an area of one acre and 15 perches in one piece, and one rood and 22 perches in another.
It remains a handsome stone structure and was built in the early English style of cruciform in plan, consisting of naïve, chancel, transepts and a low circular tower containing three bells. The roof of the naïve is of open timber work and the chancel is panelled oak. The east end is adorned by a large and beautiful stained glass window, on which are depicted the last four scenes in the life of Christ. The west end is lit by three stained glass windows and one of hexagon shape, also filled with stained glass. The windows of the naïve are filled with plain glass, as is also that in the north transept. The three-light window of the south transept, representing the Nativity, is a memorial to Edward York Esq and his wife, Penelope Beatrice Sykes, the founder of the church. It was erected “as a thank offering to God by those who loved them”. Hardman created and built the windows.
Originally the church was designed to hold 144 people, which does not differ too much to the present day, with the foundation stone being laid by Mrs York followed by the Revd. Sansom of Bilton offering prayers.
Full details of the day’s events, including an account written by John Edwin Wood, can be read from a copy of the Yorkshire Gazette which is located in the north transept. Additional transcripts, news of the day’s event and also Rolls of Honour can be read in G.C East’s “Tockwith – the Village Story”. The church was granted listed building status in April 2004 – Grade II.
The church is open to visitors every Sunday afternoon between noon and 4 pm. Please sign the visitor’s book.