The church stands high on the N side of the Great Wold Valley and above the main W-E section of the course of the Gypsey Race stream before it turns at Burton Fleming and Rudston. To the immediate E of the church is the site of an early medieval manor house, which has been excavated (Brewster, 1972; Norton, 2006, fig. 11).
The church, with its W tower, nave and chancel, largely retains its Norman form (Bilson, 1922, 52), although elements were restored in 1870-72 by G. E. Street. It was faced with well-cut coursed ashlar blocks in the Norman technique (Norton, 2006, 55).
There are three doorways with tympana: one in the chancel and two opposite each other in the nave. One of the stones that forms the tympanum over the S doorway is an inscribed sun-dial with an inscription, which means that this church can be dated to c.1109-c.1118. Sculptural embellishment of the building is otherwise almost non-existent, apart from the capitals of the belfry windows and an unusual impost profile on the chancel and tower arches; there are no corbels. The cylindrical font is patterned.
Domesday Book records a manor of 18 carucates, which, with its berewicks, had 26 carucates. Previously held by Archbishop Eldred of York and having a value of £14, Archbishop Thomas II held it in 1086 when it was 'waste' (VCH, II, 212).
Herbert the Chamberlain (chamberlain to King Henry I), named on the inscription as Herbert of Winchester, was granted the main Yorkshire estates centred on Weaverthorpe and Londesborough by Archbishop Thomas II of York in 1108-09; Herbert's son William fitzHerbert (later Archbishop) was appointed to the office of treasurer of York Minster and archdeacon of the East Riding at about the same time (Norton, 2006, 11-16). Herbert granted Weaverthorpe church to his son William, who gave it in turn to Nostell Priory, probably in spring 1121 (Norton, 2006, 43-45).
The inscription describes the church as a ‘monasterium’, a minster church. Eight local churches mostly in the Great Wold Valley were subject to Weaverthorpe (Norton, 2006, fig. 2). Of these, only West Lutton and Cowlam have any 12thc remains today.
|Height of opening||1.695m|
|Thickness of lintel||0.13m|
|Width of opening||0.61m|
|Height of opening||2.11m|
|Width of lintel approx.||2.11m|
|Width of opening||1.137m|
Square-headed doorway with plain jambs; lintel; slightly recessed tympanum formed of more than one piece of stone; and one order of plain voussoirs flush with the wall. The tympanum includes a sundial stone with an incised inscription. The porch roof was raised in the restoration (Bilson, 1922, 55-6): marks of the medieval porch roof may be seen across the face of the tympanum and the arch.
James Bayly told John Bilson that a beam of the 14thc porch roof had been let into the tympanum, causing the loss of the beginning of the inscription. Norton (2006, 53) gives the surviving four lines of text as:
This is translated as ‘In honour of St Andrew the Apostle Herbert of Winchester built this minster in the time of ki…’
According to Bilson, following Collingwood, the stone measures 14” x 12 ½” (Bilson, 1922, 58-59), using the diagram from Collingwood (1911a, 275-76). This measurement is given in metric below.
|Height of opening||2.035m|
|stone with inscription||0.355m x 0.317m|
|Width of lintel approx.||1.51m|
|Width of opening||1.145m|
A two-light belfry window on each face of the upper part of the W tower between the two stringcourses.
Bilson (1922, 57) points out that the S belfry window has recessed jambs and two orders, whereas the other three have jambs and only one order. All four openings have ‘curious plain projecting corbels under the outer arch.’
S belfry window:
1st order. Plain jambs. Central pillar recessed and base not visible from below. A cushion capital delneated with a single-scallop to the pillar. Impost plain and chamfered with quirk near the angle. A plain arch with two or three voussoirs to each opening and a springer separating them. In the filling above this is a plain horizontal corbel supporting the main arch.
Bilson (1922, 55) identifies two original windows in both N and S walls of the nave. These are plain and flush with the general surface. Illustrated with N doorway.
There is one slit window in the W wall of the tower; there are slits in the turret with the spiral staircase.
Two plain and square, or slightly chamfered, stringcourses on the tower, running under the belfry windows and just below the parapet.
This chip-carved piece is placed in the tower wall. The star pattern is in two rows of five star-in-square units in the lower half of the block. It is the only example here with this pattern.
|Height of slab as set||0.285m|
|Incised cross approx.||0.06m high by 0.055m wide|
|Width of slab||0.79m|
Two similar orders; plain with square jambs; no capitals; 'simple imposts moulded on their lower edge with a large quirked roll which [in the second order] is not returned on the east and west faces’ (Bilson 1922, 52); arch plain and square. The impost has been renewed on the L side, but is original on the S, and is similar to that as used on the tower arch. Bilson implies that the W face of the impost of the 1st order is plain, but it has a muted development of the same profile as the N and S.
|Height to top of impost||2.36m|
|Width of opening||3.5m|
A tall round-headed arch of one order similar to the chancel arch: plain and square in jambs and arch; an impost with a roll below and a quirked upright. This seems to have continued on the W wall of the nave, but is worn or reduced there. Bilson (1922, 56) gives the height of the opening from floor to springing as 14ft 9½ins (converted to metric below).
|Height from floor to springing approx.||4.5m|
|Width of opening||2.17m|
A cylindrical font with patterns covering the sides and rim; it stands on a modern moulded plinth. There is some damage, repaired on the NE side but left rough on the SW. The pattern appears to be based on a grid with alternating small circles and larger octagons, with five rows of motifs running round the cylinder. For approximately three-quarters of the circumference the octagons have saltire crosses carved within them; where the octagons were left plain and sunken, the effect is reminiscent of 17thc strapwork. The circles were developed into low domes. The horizontal rim has a shallow rebate for the lead lining; outside this is a series of a dozen or so flat scallops or lunettes now somewhat worn.
|Depth of interior of bowl||0.255m|
|External diameter of bowl||0.71m|
|Height of font cylinder||0.59m|
|Internal diameter of bowl||0.56m|
Bayly (1894, 1) describes and illustrates three loose carved stones in the ‘ringing chamber’. At the time of the visit five loose stones had been placed near the lectern in the SE corner of the nave. Only one of these, probably a headstone from a grave, was angled so as to show any carving: round-headed it has has an inscribed circle containing a saltire cross formed by cutting away four narrow lenticular areas.
J. Bayly, Four Churches in the Deanery of Buckrose restored or built by the late George Edmund Street, RA, for Sir Tatton Sykes, Bart, London, 1894.
J. Bilson, 'Weaverthorpe church and its builder', Archaeologia 72 (1922) 51-70.
T. C. M. Brewster, 'An Excavation at Weaverthorpe Manor, East Riding, 1960', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 44 (1972) 114-133.
W. G. Collingwood, ‘Anglian and Anglo-Danish Sculpture in the East Riding, with addenda to the North Riding’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 21 (1911) 254-302.
W. G. Collingwood, 'Anglian and Anglo-Danish Sculpture in the North Riding of Yorkshire', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 19 (1907) 266-413.
J. T. Lang et al., York and Eastern Yorkshire. Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, III. Oxford, 1991.
J. E. Morris, The East Riding of Yorkshire, London, 1919.
C. Norton, St William of York, Woodbridge, 2006.
M. Pedley, Brief report on the building stone and font stone in Early Norman Churches of East Yorkshire, Typescript, 2004.
N. Pevsner and D. Neave, Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, London, 1995.
D. H. Rayner and J. E. Hemingway, The Geology and Mineral Resources of Yorkshire, Leeds, 1974.
Victoria County History:Yorkshire, II (General volume), London, 1912; reprinted 1974.