Our Rector (Vicar)

Our Rector, Rev John Armstrong, and his family joined us on Wednesday 16th May 2018. 

John came from Workington in Cumbria.  He left there to become a student in Mancester in 1982.  After completing his Biology Degree he began to work as a scientist in the NHS.  He ended up working in the field of Medical Genetics at Manchester Royal Infirmary and St Mary's Hospital in Manchester.

John married Helen who was (and still is) a Teacher in 1990.  They have three groun up children, David, Mark and Naomi.

John trained for the ministruy at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and was ordained in 1997 in the Manchester Diocese.  He served his Curacy at Christ Church, Pennington before moving on to a first Incumbency at Holcombe and Hawkshaw.  He has spent the last 11 years as Team vicar at St Andrew's Over Hulton and latterly together with St Bede, Morris Green.

Johin is also a tutor on Cumbria Christian Learning in the area of the Theology of Mission.


St Mary's has a Music Group using both instrumentalists and voices

Keyboards:  William Ward

(William Plays Roland RD800 Piano & Korg O1WFD)

(The Church Organ is a Makin Toccata Computer Organ)

Guitars/Mandola - Andy Mellor

Guitar - Tom Lawton

Flugel Horn/Trumpet: Sonia Mellor

Louise Kelly & Diane McAleavey- Vocals

History - St Mary's

Wombwell dates back to pre-Norman times and at the time of the Domesday Survey of the Normans was a small agricultural village known as Wambella - the place of the well

The first Church

Following the Norman Conquest the whole of the area of land around Barnsley (which was also only a small village at the time) was granted to Ilbert de Laci who had taken up arms with William against England in the hope of gaining plunder and riches. His son, Robert, founded the Cluniac monastery at Pontefract whilst John de Laci became Earl of Lincoln. John was responsible for building several churches in the Barnsley area of which Wombwell was possibly one. At the west end of the present church are the preserved stones from the original building and they date from 1170.

The 13th Century Church

The original church was probably drastically rebuilt in the late 13th Century by the Friars of Monk Bretton Priory and the new - or rebuilt church survived until the 19th Century. It is known that the area around Wombwell saw many desperate battles during both the War of the Roses and the Civil War but there is no record of skirmishes actually in Wombwell and, therefore, it is presumed that the Church escaped without damage of any sort.

The Church of 1835

The 19th century saw a rise of Wombwell as an industrialised community and whilst coal was mined in the area from the 15th century it was not until the late 17th that the industry became important. After 1800, coal mining became vital to the area and more and more mines were opened in the Wombwell area to exploit the rich Barnsley Coal Seam. As the industrial life of the area increased, so did the population and by the 1830’s the church was found to be too small for the congregation.

The Discrepancy within the historical records

At this point there is a discrepancy with the Church historical records which state "As a result, the 13th Century Church was pulled down and a new on built in its place and opened for worship in 1835". This fact is not, however borne out by the plans held at Lamberth Palace which indicate that the 13th century Church was extended in 1835 with the addition of a new south aisle and Gallery

The 1835 church had a south aisle extension  and this supports the information held within Lamberth Palace that the historical records held within St Mary's are in fact incorrect!

Whilst the church was expanded to cope with the growing congregation most accounts of the date indicate that the building was rather poor architecturally.  This fact is supported by the factthat by 1862, reports stated that the church was “rather out of condition”. Wombwell became a parish in its own right in 1863 and prior to that the Rector had also been Vicar of Darfield and its Church records were kept by Darfield. Wombwell’s first church 

register commenced in 1867 but the first recorded baptisms and marriages were in 1864.

The present Church - 1897

Towards the end of the 19th century it became obvious that another new church was needed to serve Wombwell’s ever growing population and on the 21st December 1896, the Viscount Halifax laid the foundation stone of the present church. The building took a long time to build and the church came into use gradually. The nave was consecrated on April 21st 1898; the chancel on February 1st 1908 and the tower and porch on 31st may 1914. The latter event saw the first visit of the new Bishop of Sheffield to Womb well - the diocese being created on May 1st 1914. The church bells were added in the 1960’s. The present church seats 800 and is far more spacious and dignified than its predecessor and was designed to take on the work of a growing community. Since that time, the church has remained largely unaltered (except for the internal reordering in the early 1990’s which saw the church “turn round” with the alter in the west end). The demolition of buildings at the east end opened up the views of that part of the church and the 1914-1918 war memorial was erected on this site. This memorial now has the 1939-45 names added and has recently been renovated to its rightful condition. The present church is of perpendicular style indicative of the richest era of church building that lends dignity and veneration to what some feel is one of Wombwell’s greatest architectural treasure.


St George’s Church in the nearby village of Jump is the other church in the parish and this church was dedicated in 1882.

Hemingfield The Ellis CE (VA) Primary School

Our church school in Hemingfield has recently been replaced by a brand new purpose built building and replaces one that was approx 150 years old.  The former building was one of two built out of Trust monies of the will of John Ellis. Mr Ellis died in the 16th century and the Trust money, which was invested in coal mining, grew considerably over the years.