A typical late medieval North Country church: Pevsner
Nikolaus Pevsner’s observation noted above is absolutely right. The long, low embattled profile, sturdy west tower and elementary decoration are typical of many late Perpendicular churches in the north of England. At St Michael’s-on-Wyre these elements are combined with yellow and red sandstone to give an impression of timeless solidity. Its location alongside the main road makes it the most frequently seen medieval church in the Fylde.
Tradition has it that a church was built at this crossing of the River Wyre in c.640AD, at the time of the missionary and Archbishop of York, Paulinus. Nothing remains from that time. A church was evidently on the site in 1086 – the Domesday book records Michelscherce as one of the churches in the Hundred of Amounderness.
But there are parts of the church that can be dated with certainty from documentary evidence. The Butler Chapel was founded in about 1480 by John Butler of Rawcliffe Hall. The tower was built c.1549. In that year money to the value of 40 shillings was given by John Singleton for the building of a steeple. He also gave 10 shillings towards the bells. The tower is rectangular but for a stair projection adjoining the south aisle. It has stepped angle buttresses, a west door and window, battlements and small corner pinnacles. The 3 bells in the tower are dated 1458, 1663 and 1742. On the parapet of the tower are the coat of arms of Henry Butler, his initials and the date 1611. The same date is carved over the semi-circular headed doorway of the south porch. The only significant addition dated after the work of 1611 is the early C19 vestry.
The church has a small number of fragments of old glass including a C14 shield. In the Butler chapel is a C16 Flemish roundel depicting sheep shearing. The shepherds can clearly be seen at work with their shears. The crayfish may denote the astrological sign of Cancer (June 21st – July 22nd). Presumably the piece is one of a series illustrating the Labours of the Months – “Junius” (June) is engraved at the bottom of this panel. Interestingly, June is more commonly illustrated by grass cutting. Other glass in the church includes a modern representation of the parable of the sower.