All Saints’ Church Brandsby is closely connected in history with Brandsby Hall, for over 300 years the seat of the Cholmeley family, who in turn, were linked by marriage with the Fairfaxes of Gilling Castle.
Towards the end of the 1740’s Francis Cholmeley, having acted for a time as agent to the Fairfaxes who were his kinsmen, set about the rebuilding of the present Hall with himself as architect. Simultaneously, on his initiative, the old and ruinous church adjoining was pulled down in 1767 and rebuilt on a new site which he donated to the north east of the Hall and where it would not interfere with the view from the house. Little is known of the old church of which no plans survive, though a small sculpture on the south wall of the present chancel in the form of a Crucifixus and probably Norman, is thought to have come from the previous building.
All Saints’ church is both unusual and distinguished and is a fine example of contemporary Georgian style. The architect was Thomas Atkinson and the mason Richard Scurr, which latter had already been employed earlier in the alterations to the hall. Squire Cholmeley was not only responsible for the building of the new church in 1770 but also appears largely to have paid for it, apart from £45 raised by the parish at the time.
Architecturally, the church has three bays, nave and aisles, but is, in fact, aisleless with a cross axis of two pairs of columns forming a square groined bay and two narrow groined passages. This emphasis on the centre is also repeated externally where the hipped roof of Yorkshire stone carries over the middle a magnificent open Cupola. An interesting set of monuments built into the east wall outside commemorates the Wiley family.
The church was restored by Temple Moor in 1905 when he added a new Pulpit and Lectern and again In 1913 by H Rutherford who added the Baptistry, Porch and Vestry at the West end.Within the building, items of special note are the beautiful brass chandeliers, the Commandment Boards on the east wall, the Cholmeley hatchments on the north and south walls of the chancel and the 18th century pillar font in the baptistry.
Also of interest are the pulpit and the magnificent brass lectern by Temple Moore (who restored the church in 1905), the wrought ironwork gate at the entrance to the nave and a number of marble and brass monuments on the walls, some with excellent lettering. The brass plaque records the death of Colin Cattley, drowned in the sinking of the Lusitania by the Germans in 1915.
On the South wall, near the East end, is a portion of a rude stone carving, probably Saxon and about 900 years old. The brass lectern was presented in memory of the late Reverend P. F. Swan, by his widow, he being Rector of the Parish from 1873 to 1903. The Reverend Robert Swan (his Father) was Rector from 1823 to 1873 and the Reverend W. M. Scott from 1903 to 1936. The list of Rectors dates back to the year 1228. The old parish Registers date back to 1575 but many of the ancient Churchwardens’ accounts and notes must have been destroyed or lost.
The old silver Chalice (or cup), which originally had a cover is dated 1665 and has the inscription “Ex Dono Gulielmi Berman nuper Rector parochial de Bransby, anno 1665” (From the gift of William Berman, formerly Rector of the parish of Bransby in the year 1665) and a paten marked WB is probably the same date as the Chalice. The name of the maker of this silver in unknown, but he also made the plate at St. Margaret’s Church Westminster. Another silver Chalice is dated 1767, and a large Paten, 1839, while the flagon is 1868.
The West end of the church was panelled in oak in 1919, during the Rectorship of the Reverend W. M. Scott, and in 1933, the electric light was installed and the present candelabras converted from candle power to electric light.
The stone cross on the North wall of the churchyard was erected as a memorial to the men who fell in the Great War 1914 – 1918.
The church was practically re-roofed in 1937 at a cost of £232, towards which about £180 has been subscribed or collected (July 1938). The old stone stoup or font at the West end was found in the beck at Stearsby, on the property of Major R. S. Pearson. The other piece of carved stone is probably part of Marton Old Abbey.
The only stained glass of particular merit is the Kempe memorial window in the baptistry to Lieutenant Wimbush DFC, who was killed in action in 1918. Kempe was a man of high renown in Victorian ecclesiastical art circles and executed designs in many parts of the world. His motto was “Who sows in tears shall reap in joy” and he signed his work with a wheat sheaf. When his cousin, Tower, succeeded him a black tower was imposed on the wheat sheaf trade mark. This is visible in the left hand corner of the window.
The cupola contains two bells; the big bell dated 1669 bears the inscription “Gloria in Altissimo Deo 1669” (Glory to God in the Highest). The second bell (date unknown) has “Beate Marie Virginius Camana (Bell of the Blessed Virgin Mary) inscribed on it.
The baptistry porch and vestry were added to the west end of the building by H. Rutherford in 1913. The surrounding view from the entrance gates to the church is one of unspoiled beauty, looking across the wooded slopes of the Howardian Hills towards the north and east.