The oldest brass in Ilkley Parish Church is dated 1562, the year of Archbishop Cranmer's revised Book of Common Prayer, the fourth year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The double sided brass presents a mystery.

On one side, in old English character, there is reference to "Johis Reyner, prebend of Stylyngton." and on the other side "William Robenson" who was married to Ienat (Janet) and whose ten children are named. Stillington is north of York. There was a Stillington prebendal stall in York Minster, but no record of a Reyner. There is no record of a Robinson family in Ilkley at that time.

Is the link with Robert Hodgson, son of the vicar of this church, Richard Hodgson? Two small brasses tell us that Robert Hodgson "minister of Stillington Church (near York)", was buried here in December 1639 and his father Richard, minister here, died a few months later in April 1640.

Notice that it is "minister" rather than "priest" at this time of protestant reformation of the church.

The vicar after Hodgson was the Revd. Anthony Coates, who started on May 4th, 1640, less than a month later. Vicar Coates was to see the troubles of the Civil War. Did Cromwell pass through Ilkley after the Battle of Marston Moor en route for Preston in 1644? The first Civil War ended in 1646.

Vicar Coates collected various moneys for the poor - 1647, from Francis Hodgson £4, a son of vicar Hodgson, perhaps? 1652 - from Mrs Blakey of Nesfield £50 3s 4d. It was a time of inflation and under employment.

It is interesting to note in 1658, "Wm Oates mending the bell - 6d". "Wm Loughthouse for sewing the bell string 3d". 1659. "Paid for keeping the clocke in order for half a year to the clerke 4 shillings." Is that the clock face now outside Church House on the ground? Vicar Coates would have used the new 1662 Prayer Book (in 1683 the churchwardens accounts note Two Common Prayer Books £1.6s). He was also Master of Bradford Grammar School for several years.

He died intestate in Summer 1665, the year of The Great Plague, at the age of 70. His wife Anne set up the brass tablet " Mors mihi lycrum - Death to me is richness ".