Saxton is a village about 12 miles from Leeds. The church of All Saints has a W tower, nave with S porch and S chapel, and chancel with N vestry. An overriding impression of the interior was the dark pointing on the light grey stone: one unusual touch was that the stone slates of the porch were hung on wooden pegs on the rafters. (Pevsner, 1967, 431; Butler, 2007, 36).
There is a plan of the church in Borthwick Fac. 1876/5, but it is largely concerned with reseating, and so the windows (for example) are not entirely accurate: a better plan is in Kirk, 1960, pl. 1, drawn by J. H. Smith in 1959. An annotated plan drawn by S. D. Kitson in October 1920 is in the archive of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society; it is informative (summarised in Kirk, 1960, 14-15).
Apart from the N wall of the nave, which was rebuilt in later medieval centuries slightly to the N of the first line, the ground plan of tower, nave and chancel are basically from the twelfth century. The only Romanesque sculpture is in the waterleaf capitals and bases of the south doorway, and the simple imposts of the chancel arch. There are also two slit windows, and an aumbry - all supposed to be of c.1180 because of the waterleaf capitals.
In DB, Saxton belonged to Ilbert de Lacy (VCH II, 244, 297), and was held by the Peytevin family; there was a church. About 1160-74, Robert de Peytevin granted the advowson and some land to the hospital of St Peter (Farrer, 1916, 24). This is the family that had been concerned with the establishment of the Cistercians at Kirkstall. Lawton (1842), 73 says 'Torre calls this a parochial chapel within the parish of Sherburn'.
From the inside this has a thick lintel, flush with the general surface level. The N wall was rebuilt in 1280 slightly further north (Kirk, 1960, 14; Gilleghan, 2012, 3), see narrow pile of stonework in the angle between the N and W walls. The opening is comparable to the blocked doorway in the S wall of the chancel.
|Lintel||0.38m by 1.5m|
|w. of opening (interior)||1.06m|
|w. of opening (outside)||0.845m|
This doorway resembles the one in the N wall of the nave in having a heavy lintel. According to the faculty papers, it would have been blocked around 1876, at which time a new doorway was made in the N vestry (Borthwick Institute, Fac. 1876/5). There seems to be a chamfer on the R jamb, where the cement is gappy. The whole S wall had been disturbed to put in the pointed medieval windows; there probably were two round-headed windows as remain more distinctly on the N wall of the chancel. From inside on this S wall, there is less to see.
|Very approx. w. of opening||0.83m|
Doorway of two orders. First order plain and square; continuous.
Second order has plain plinth, ring and torus base, not waterholding. Detached shafts one-piece but severely weathered - they are probably modern restorations in an inferior stone (compare Askham Richard porch). Capitals simplest waterleaf with integral ring and impost. The waterleaf is thick, squat, plain, slit halfway with a slight bored indent at the bottom, something like them exists on the porch archway at Sherburn. Integral impost thin, chamfered and plain. This order finishes flush with the wall.
|h. of opening||2.96m|
|w. of opening||1.37m|
One complete window exists, at the E end of the N wall. It has a narrow chamfer outside. The interior facings of a second window also survive in that wall. The S wall of the chancel is much more complex, and both faces need to be examined to estimate what might have been the earlier fenestration. It resembles a general style found in various late twelfth-century churches in the S Riding.
The one nave window surviving seems oddly placed in the S wall. It may have been reset here in the late 13th century when the S or Hungate chapel was added and that part of the S wall opened up with the two pointed arches. Placed unusually high and close to the doorway, it would have lit the entrance. Slight chamfer all round - or at least as far as can be seen from the ground.
This piece is on the N side of the tower, within the complex courses of the late medieval plinth, by the NW buttress. It is just the head of an incised 'bracelet-headed' cross. This style was current in perhaps late 12th century or early 13th century.
Higher up the same wall are the foot ends (steps and shaft) of further crosses. These more likely to be 13th century (Kirk, 1960, 16-17 citing an earlier description of the reuse of such slabs).
The tower was refaced outside in \later medieval times, probably in the late 15th century, concealing what is supposed to be a 12th-century tower. In the SW corner of the tower is a vice or spiral staircase (not seen, but on the plan in Kirk, 1960, pl. 1); the entrance to the stair is now from outside. There is a blocked doorway inside, but its shape and age could not be ascertained.
Plain from the ground up to a simple plain and chamfered impost, grooved with quirk near the bottom of the upright. The chamfer on the jambs on both E and W is probably later, having different tooling.
|Thickness of wall from E to W excl. chamfer||1.18m|
|Width of opening||2.98m|
This cupboard is below the one surviving round-headed window. The S wall has an indication of a similar rectangular alcove, but blocked; this may have been a wall-piscina.
The aumbry at present contains the fragmentary pre-Conquest cross-head (Collingwood 1915, 236-7; Coatsworth 2008, 245-6). Coatsworth estimates the date of the fragment as early tenth century. See Comments.
Borthwick Institute Fac. 1876/5 (includes plan of church)
L. A. S. Butler (ed.), The Yorkshire Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874) Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record series 159 (Woodbridge, 2007).
E. Coatsworth, Western Yorkshire. Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, vol. VIII (Oxford, 2008).
W. G. Collingwood, 'Anglian and Anglo-Danish Sculpture in the West Riding' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 23 (1915)
W. Farrer, Early Yorkshire Charters, vol. 3 (Edinburgh, 1916).
G. E. Kirk, Saxon Church, Lead Chapel, Towton Chapel (Leeds, 1960).
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 (London, 1842).
N. Pevsner, Yorkshire: West Riding: The Buildings of England (Harmondsworth, 1959), 2nd. ed. rev. E. Radcliffe (1967).
Victoria County History of Yorkshire, vol. II (London, 1974).