St Laurence, Adwick-le-Street, Yorkshire, West Riding

Feature Sets (5)


The church consists of nave, S porch, N aisle, N chapel, chancel and W tower, built of rubble limestone with some ashlar. The church and churchyard lie close to the angle of two roads, opposite a park.

Items of interest to the Corpus are the S doorway to the nave and a sedilia and piscina built into the S wall of the chancel; remnants of windows and a doorway survive in the same wall.


Adwick-le-Street takes its name from the Roman road between Doncasterand Castleford, the suffix distinguishing it from Adwick-on-Dearne. The road also forms part of the parish boundary with Brodsworth. The settlement is named in Domesday Book, but the first mention of a church is when it was given, c.1170x1181, to the Cistercian nuns of Hampole Priory two miles away (Hunter 1828, 352-6; VCH 1913, 163). There is however a reference to Hampole in existence as a Benedictine house in 1156 (English Heritage/National Monuments Record website), in which case the gift, although unrecorded, may have been 1156x1181.


Exterior Features


S doorway to chancel

The rere-arch of the blocked priest’s doorway can be seen in the interior S wall of the chancel, to the E of the two-light window; outside, a mass dial has been noted in this area (Brooks 1997, 9).

S doorway to nave

Doorway of 3 orders; all the stone much worn, blown out and hollowed in the way of some Magnesian limestones, although tooling can be seen occasionally where the original skin survives, as on the L impost and the R capital. No bases are visible due to the height of the Victorian tiled floor and recently-built ramped entrance. The stones of the capitals and first and second orders are large in comparison with those of the third order, and larger than normal 12th-century stones.

Height of opening 2.4m
Width of opening 1.41m
1st order

Continuous, plain and square.


2nd order

Free-standing shaft. Capitals massive, extremely worn and hard to define, perhaps a twin scallop form; unusually, they also contrive to carry the third order archImpost has deep chamferquirk near bottom of upright. In the arch, a roll moulding similar to the shaft in dimensions, but not running in line with it.


3rd order

Plain and square in the jamb; the massive capital as before; impost continuous from second order; in the arch, voussoirs plain and square.



Windows in chancel

Parts of two windows can be seen inside in the S wall of the chancel (Morris 1923, 74). The more easterly line of facing stones of one blocked window is cut into by the E arch of the sedilia; the round-headed window on the W end of this wall, partly blocked, seems to conflict with the blocked priest’s doorway.

Interior Features

Interior Decoration

String courses

Stringcourse in chancel

A string course survives above the sedilia.  It is double-chamfered with an upright central section.  


Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae

Piscina in S wall of chancel to E of sedilia

This is simple and square with a narrow chamfer, but it has had a basin inserted rather roughly in the L side; this basin is octagonal. The assemblage does not appear to have been restored.



Height 0.31m
Width within chamfer 0.35m



There are two seats, the more easterly seat is raised one course higher than the other but the heads of the arches reach the same height. Both round-headed alcoves have a slight chamfer in the arch and jambs; the stonework of the seats at the bottom is rougher. The central support has a plain plinth; base upright and chamfered; slender column; necking; bell capital; impost upright, chamfered and upright. The column structure is tied to the back wall of the sedilia by a sort of stone bridge or reduced second capital. It appears that the upper parts of the sedilia, including the pillar, capital and chamfered edges, have been renewed or recut.

Depth of alcove 0.315m
Height of arch above highest seat 1.09m
Width of sedilia within chamfer 1.345m

Loose Sculpture

Fragments in chancel

Two fragments are on a window sill in the chancel. A third fragment also in this position, described as a stoup, was not photographed individually but can be seen in the interior view of the S wall of the chancel to the R of the pieces described below.


Capital, ht. 0.18m
Capital, max. side face 0.25m
Plinth, broken longer side w. 0.28m
Plinth ht. approx. 0.125m
Plinth, shorter but complete side 0.205m

1. Plinth with two bases

A plain square plinth with waterholding bases for two columns.

2. Fragment of capital

The fragment is inverted on the sill. In the style of the late 12th-century work. 



The church is oriented in the same unusual direction as St Wilfrid, Cantley, i.e. NE, and may suggest that the site both of were influenced by some earlier feature (Brooks 1997, 2). Plan showing building periods in Brooks 1997, 3.

Ryder 1982, 88, says the church was ‘over-restored’ in 1862. He singles out the S doorway as ‘much restored’. Perhaps that explains the lack of a label and the curious capitals.

Pevsner (1959; 1967, 74) considers the sedilia contemporary with the C13 N chapel, ‘or a little earlier’. Ryder 1982 does not mention the sedilia or piscina. The sedilia interferes with one of the blocked windows in the same wall and is therefore presumably later than the window.

It might be that the two loose stones on the nearby sill were formerly part of the sedilia.


  • R. H. Brooks, A brief history and guide to Adwick-le-Street and the Church of St. Laurence c.1150, Doncaster 1997.

  • W. Page (ed.), Victoria County History: Yorkshire vol. III, 1913 (reprinted 1974).

  • Joseph Hunter, South Yorkshire, Deanery of Doncaster 1, Nichols, London, 1828.

  • G. Lawton, Collectio rerum ecclesiasticarum de diocesi Eboracensi; or, collections relative to churches and chapels within the Diocese of York. To which are added collections relative to churches and chapels within the diocese of Ripon., New edition, London, 1842.

  • J. E. Morris, The West Riding of Yorkshire, London, 2nd ed. (1911) 1923.

  • N. Pevsner, revised by E. Radcliffe, The Buildings of England, Yorkshire, The West Riding, Harmondsworth, 1967.

  • J Raine, The Dedications of the Yorkshire Churches, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal , 2 (1873).

  • P. F. Ryder, Saxon Churches in South Yorkshire, South Yorkshire County Council Archaeology Monograph no.2. Sheffield, 1982.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SE 541 086 
now: South Yorkshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, West Riding
now: Wakefield
medieval: York
now: St Laurence
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Barbara English, Rita Wood 
Visit Date
<p>18th March 2010</p>