The church has a nave and chancel with N and S aisles, based on a nave and chancel of the 12th century; it has also a W tower and a S porch. The chancel has traces of its Norman structure in the following features: exterior pilasters on the E wall, a string course inside and out, corbels on the N and S walls, and blocked N and S windows. The chancel was partly reconstructed in 1632 after partial collapse, hence the square pillar and woodwork in its N arcade. In the chancel aisles a few corbels remain in situ; the best-preserved are on the N side. An object of particular interest at this the church is the reset panel in the porch, the use of which is unknown (Pevsner and Neave 1995, 398; Butler 2007, 167-8).
King Edward had this land before the Conquest, and at the time of the Domesday Survey it was associated with Howden either as soc or as land held by the Bishop of Durham. All the berewicks of Howden were waste (VCH II, 319).
The remains of round-headed window facings can be seen in the N and S walls of the chancel. They are flush with the walling on the former interior and exterior faces.
The exterior E wall of the chancel can still be identified. It has two pilasters, indications on the L side of the roof slope, and two string courses.
1. The string course at the lowest level is plain with a chamfer above and below. This profile is also seen, for example, at Aughton and Lockington, and in part of the tower string courses at Everingham.
|Height of course||0.19m|
|Height of upright part||0.12m|
The corbels are seen from the inside in the N and S chancel aisles. The corbel table now carries the roofs to the aisles, or is close to the roof, while about a foot below it a heavy pipe runs in front of the wall; on the N side, this obscures the view of some very interesting corbels. Corbels on the S wall are damaged; there may be more corbels hidden by the organ.
Corbels on N wall of chancel
CN1. Exposed in the E wall of the end of the aisle, but in sequence with the corbel table, is the W face of a corbel on which is carved a man bending forward as if to pick up something. The relief is very flat, and it was not possible to assess this effectively.
CN2. A man’s head, compact and lifelike. He has a long thin twirled moustache and a small mouth.
CN3. Three horizontal rolls. Seen from the side, the circular ends are recessed.
CN4. A bearded man’s head with ‘cigar’. The head turns a little in the direction of the object, which is presumably symbolic and being emitted.
CN5. Two human figures. The man and woman are full length, with large heads. The man seems to be down on one knee before the woman, his right hand reaching out to her, but his head is turned outwards and his mouth open, his jaw dropped. She looks passively to the side.
CN6. A man’s head, looking. He has a long twisted moustache with curled up tip, but no beard.
CN7. A beast’s head with a big open mouth and its long pointed tongue hanging out. It is bear-like, with small round ears.
CN8. A beast’s head seeming to grin. It has small ears, just discernible.
CN9. A bearded man’s head; he is smiling.
CN10. A man’s head, again he seems to smile. The cylindrical form under his head is found elsewhere, but has not been identified.
CN11. A man’s head with, perhaps, a gag or bit across his mouth: it is slightly shaped and is not a simple billet moulding. What appear to be frowns are the lines of hair, since they continue down the sides of the head.
CN12. Damaged. A human face?
CN13. A human face watching, perhaps a woman.
2. Corbels on S wall of chancel
CS1. A human head? This is almost completely broken away.
CS2. A man’s head, broken off below the eyes. There remains a fringe of hair and two large eyes looking.
CS3 and (higher) CS4 are broken and worn.
After a gap in the sequence, there is another legible corbel half-hidden by the organ:
CS5 A human head.
|Height of course||0.19m|
|Height of upright part||0.126m|
|Panel, height incl. the stone above||0.73m|
|Panel, height of visible panel||0.445m|
|String course E, larger piece, height||0.82m|
|String course E, larger piece, length||0.435m|
|String course E, small piece, height||0.07m|
|String course E, small piece, length||0.145m|
|String course, W, height||0.09m|
|String course, W, length of row||1.08m|
The panel is divided into two horizontal rows of four animals. The rows and the animals are separated by a ridge, except for the two on the right of the upper row, where there is no division. The animals are lions in the upper row and griffins in the lower. They are mirror pairs with, to the R of the lion on the R, a small bird in the lower right corner of that area. The carving is fairly shallow but even so textures survive: of feathers or scales on the griffin and some attempt at a mane for the lions. The griffins are all alike and fluent, designed to fit the space, but the two pairs of lions, although similar in all significant details, seem to have been carved by a different artist. Part of the border has been lost on the R. It was not possible to be certain whether there is a joint or if the stone continues up under the notice board; if so the surface is set back about 0.01m.
These are in the S wall of the S nave aisle on either side of the window, under the memorials. The four main lengths of string course have a well-preserved chevron pattern; immediately below the piece on the E of the window is a smaller worn piece probably of the same. Between the window and the S door there are three pieces making a continuous row.
This arcade has ‘octagonal piers and double-chamfered arches with nailhead ornament’ and is 13th century, but there are ‘two Norman stops used as hoodmould stops.’ (Pevsner and Neave 1995, 398). There are in total four stops on the arcade, of which only one seems to have undoubtedly Romanesque features: the stop on Pier 2. This may have been a corbel. Its beard is more developed than those on the corbels in the N chancel aisle. It has an unusual form of ear, but the curls on the ends of the of the beard are in twelfth-century style. The eye is matched in corbel CN13, and many of the in situ corbels have a twirled moustache. The removal of the cavetto background gives it the appearance of a portrait head wearing a crown. The smaller corbels used at the E and W responds are like another small corbel high in the wall, but it is not thought that any of these are twelfth-century. The label stop on Pier 1 is later too.
L. A. S. Butler, ed., The Yorkshire Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874), Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 159. Woodbridge 2007.
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.
N. Pevsner & D. Neave, The Buildings of England; Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd ed. London 1995, 398-9.
Victoria County History: Yorkshire, II (General volume, including Domesday Book). 1912, reprinted 1974.
R. Wood, 'The Augustinians and the Romanesque Sculpture at Kirkburn Church', East Yorkshire Historian 4 (2003), 3-59.