The village is on the route of the Roman road from Brough to Malton, where a valley opens from the E in the Wolds escarpment; the church stands on the N side of the valley. It has chancel, nave with N and S porches, and octagonal Perpendicular W tower. ‘Apart from the tower the whole church was rebuilt, using a few old features, in 1869-71 by J. B. and W. Atkinson of York’ (Butler 2007, 354, note; citing Borthwick Institute Fac. 1868/13). Inside, the tower arch has a few voussoirs with chevron mouldings, and higher in the wall is a large double scallop capital; all reset.
In 1066, fifteen carucates were held by Norman son of Malcolumbe. The estate passed to William Malet and then to his son Robert, but by 1086 it belonged to Gilbert Tison, and was held of him by three knights, in the twelfth century by the Anlaby and Sancton families. It was granted to Watton priory probably in the later thirteenth century (VCHER IV 1979, 156).
Remains of a large Anglo-Saxon cemetery were found W of the church (Pevsner and Neave 1995, 667). There was a church at Sancton in 1086 (VCH II, 1912, 273). After 1250 the medieties were consolidated and in 1310 the church was appropriated to Watton priory.
Sir Stephen Glynne visited in 1863, before the Victorian rebuilding. He noted the exterior was ‘much patched and mutilated’ and that ‘the priests’ [sic] door is obtuse – Early English on imposts’ (Butler 2007, 354). In 1869-71, ‘the church was rebuilt in the E.E. style… but old evidence was used (copied rather than actually used) in the lancets and the priest’s doorway of the chancel’ (Pevsner and Neave 1995, 667); the rebuilt doorway is round-headed.
High on the W wall of the nave above the tower arch is a pair of heavy corbels supporting the woodwork of the roof. The upper stones of these corbels are large and rounded, but the lowest stone on each side is a reused capital. While the capital on the R (N side) is octagonal and had a rosette in the centre of each face, the capital on the left is a very large double scallop capital. It has no necking or impost.
In the jambs of the tower arch, on both angles, are stones with a single row of centrifugal chevron on one face; the other face is plain; they are exposed full-length on the square jamb and show tooling. There are three on the R side, and three on the L. The chevron moulding on the upper stone on the L is broken, but the other stones are in good condition. If they were at one time voussoirs from an arch, they have been trimmed square.
|Lowest stone on R, ht. of course||0.2m|
Near the door is an undateable stoup. It is made of a soft whitish oolitic limestone and shows no shaping, except one side which is divided into two rough scallops at the bottom. The roughly-squared block has a vaguely rectangular basin with steeply sloping sides and rounded angles. It is not so carefully tapered and squared as a pillar piscina would be.
|Dimensions at top||0.38m x 0.325m|
|Height of block||0.305m|
Faculty papers with plans, Borthwick Institute Fac. 1868/13; Fac. 1878/13
L. A. S. Butler, ed., The Yorkshire Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874). Y. A. Soc. Record series 159, Woodbridge 2007.
N. Pevsner and D. Neave, The Buildings of England Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd. ed. London, 1995.
Victoria County History: East Riding of Yorkshire. IV (Harthill Wapentake, Hunsley Beacon section). 1979.
Victoria County History of Yorkshire, II, reprinted 1974.