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St Helen's Church. The Church of Sandal Magna is dedicated to St. Helen, the mother of the Emperor Constantine the Great, and is one of the six churches in Yorkshire so dedicated. The festival of St. Helen is celebrated on 18th August.

Helen or Saint Helen, also Helena, (b. 250 AD · Bithynia and Pontus, d. 330 AD · Rome) was an Empress of the Roman Empire.

She was the consort of the Emperor Constantius Chlorus and the mother of the Emperor Constantine the Great. (Latin: Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus, b. 27 February c. 272 AD – d. 22 May 337 AD.

The church pre-dates the Domesday Book, although it was replaced by another in the 12th century by Earl de Warenne of Sandal Castle. Later it was enlarged and then almost completely rebuilt in the 14th century; followed, over the years, by further enlargement and restoration. [Photograph July 2009]

Click to enlargeIn the Vatican: Saint Helen (circa 250 - 330 AD) (Latin: Flavia Iulia Helena Augusta) also known as Saint Helena, Saint Elena, Helena Augusta and Helena of Constantinople The sarcophagus of St. Helen is in the Vatican Museums. She is believed by some to have been a British princess; others believe that she came from the Roman province of Bithynia in Asia Minor. She was the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. The poor and destitute were, it seems, the special objects of her charity.

Click to enlargeThe interior of St. Helen's, possibly circa 1908.

The church contains the Pilkington and Waterton Chapels.

Click to enlargeSt. Helen's, from a postcard, possibly early 20th century

Click to enlargeSt. Helen's, 14th July 2012.

Click to enlargeThe Service of the Crosses, the Good Friday Devotional Service at Sandal Castle, 22nd April 2011. This is an annual Churches Together in Wakefield event with processions of crosses from three different locations in Sandal converging on the castle.

St. Helens and sundial. The porch and sundial.
[26 Oct 2011]

The Parish of Sandal Magna

St. Helen's and St. Paul's Churches.
Serving Sandal, Walton and Portobello
in Wakefield.
Find out more on the official parish site.

[Site accessed 3rd November 2018]

Part of our English Heritage
St. Helen's Church is a listed building. Find out more on Images of England.
IoE Number: 441433
Location: CHURCH OF ST HELEN, BARNSLEY ROAD (east side), Wakefield. Date listed: 14 July 1953
Grade B

Those aficionados of Sunday night television may well have been enjoying The White Queen on BBC1. The series highly features the Neville family; the Duchess Cecily mother of Edward lV, her nephew Earl of Warwick “The Kingmaker”, and his daughters Isabel and Anne who married Edward’s brothers. The Neville family have two connections with our Parish. Duchess Cecily lost her husband, Richard Duke of York, her son Edmond Earl of Rutland, and her brother Richard Neville Earl of Salisbury (father of Warwick) at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460.
The second connection is that a distant branch of the Neville family lived in our Parish, at Chevet Hall before the Pilkingtons. Sir John Neville inherited Chevet though his marriage to Elizabeth Bosville in 1509. He was 7th cousin once removed from Edward IV both being descended from Sir Geoffrey de Neville who lived at Raby Castle in the early 13th century.

Further to the article in last July's issue of grapevine (above) which showed how the Nevilles in the TV programme the White Queen where distantly connected to our Church. Well we have another connection to the Neville family, In the corner where the choir sings and band plays there is a remnant of the old pews that used to be in our Church. On a closer look you will notice a coat or arms. This belongs to Josceline Percy 1480-1532, son of the 4th Earl of Northumberland who married Margaret Frost of Featherstone. Josceline's great grandmother was Eleanor Neville (1397-1472) sister of Cecily Neville, Duchess of York. This makes him first cousin twice removed of Edward IV and Richard III and so a distant cousin of the Nevilles of Chevet Hall.
Josceline's son Edward married Elizabeth Waterton of Walton Hall and their son Thomas was a leader in the Gunpowder Plot. He died following an altercation with Crown forces in November 1605. There are members of the Percy family living in New Zealand who claim legitimate decent from Thomas and so claim they are the true Earls of Northumberland.

Charles Elliott
From grapevine, the newsletter of the Ecclesiastical Parish of Sandal Magna,
St. Helen's, Sandal, and St. Paul's, Walton.
*A. July/August 2013.
*B. March 2014.

Read about Richard Neville - 16th Earl of Warwick (The Kingmaker)
6th Earl of Salisbury, 8th & 5th Baron Montagu, 7th Baron Monthermer, KG (22 November 1428 – 14 April 1471).

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