METHLEY PARK AND CHURCH.
The parish-church of Methley, situated about 5J miles (N.E. by N.) from Wakefield, is dedicated to King
Oswald, the patron saint, whose image, with a crown upon his head and a sceptre in his right hand, is represented
sitting within a small ornamented niche above the south door. This figure is thought to be " contemporary
with the foundation of the church and parish.'' In proof of the great antiquity to which the original edifice lays
claim, we may observe that it is mentioned in Doomsday Book, " which (as it refers to the survey of Yorkshire)
may be fixed about the year 1080." The present structure, especially the embattled tower and spire, bears considerable resemblance to that of Wakefield, though greatly inferior in dimensions; and from this circumstance
I should be inclined to think it may have been erected about the same time. Not a vestige of the original
building remains, with the exception of the effigy already referred to: it abounds, nevertheless, in objects of
interesting association ; for few churches in the county can boast such an assemblage of sumptuous monuments
of marble and alabaster as are contained within its sacred precincts. There, side by side, repose in dismal
majesty the sages, and heroes, and beauties of a former age—the dead addressing most intelligible language to
the living, and with mute but irresistible eloquence declaring that the riches of the rich, the achievements of the
mighty, and the honours of the most honourable, are nothing worth unless they be made subservient to the
great end of our being; since "it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment."
The chantry on the south side of the choir (founded and endowed by Robert Waterton the elder, a.d. 1424)
is, as it were, crowded with monumental carving and escutcheons. The first which attracts the eye is that of
Robert Waterton and Cicely* his wife; these lie stretched beneath an elaborately wrought canopy, upon "an
highly elevated altar-tomb, their hands elevated as in prayer, the knight's head reposing on an helmet crested
with a plume of feathers." Opposite this, against the south wall of the chapel, is a tomb of alabaster, upon
which are two recumbent figures, male and female, the former clad in armour, the eyes and hands of each
being raised toward heaven. This tomb, though without inscription, is embellished with armorial bearings,
which, " beyond all doubt, appropriate it to Lionel Lord Welles, who fell at the Battle of Towton," and who,
with his wife Cicely, daughter of Sir Robert Waterton, was buried here. In the features of Lord Welles there is
much character and expression, and in that of his lady great beauty and sweetness; and hence this design has
been attributed to a somewhat later date, even to the reign of Henry VII., as previously to that period "no
real expression had been given to the human countenance, either in sculpture or coinage." Between these is a
sumptuous monument, commemorative of the founder of the present family, Sir John Savile, of Bradley and
Methley, baron of the exchequer. His body was not interred here; consequently the tomb, " erected about
thirty years after his death, with the exception of his heart, is, as to himself, really a cenotaph."
On the north of the choir is a richly designed monument, by Scheemakers, to the memory of Charles Savile,
Esq., a descendant of Baron Savile; and opposite to this, the last of the series, is one of even superior magnificence, "with the figure of the deceased in robes, with the collar of the order of the Bath," to the first Earl of
* In Glover's Visitation this lady's name is Beatrice.