St Andrew, Kildwick, Yorkshire, West Riding

Feature Sets (2)


Kildwick is a small village on the N bank of a bridging point over the River Aire, between Keighley and Skipton. The church is separated from the village by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The long structure of the church is mostly 14thc to 16thc. Several carved stones, loose and reset, are pre-Conquest, but two large carved stones re-used as a respond and as a pier base in the S arcade; a reset corbel, and a tomb slab, may all be Romanesque.


A church at Kildwick was recorded in Domesday Book where Archil has 2 carucates for geld, and 1 church (VCH 1912, 207). Subsequently  the king had 2 carucates in Kildwick (VCH 1912, 307n), and was part of the grant made to Robert de Romeli.

Cecila de Romeli and her husband, William Meschines, founded Embsay Priory in 1120. When Cecilia later confirmed the gift of Embsay to the priory, she granted with it the whole vill of Kildwick (VCH 1913, 195).

The parish was extensive, including Kildwick, Silsden, Steeton, Holden, Farnhill, Estburne, Bradley, Cowling, Cononley, Glusburne and Sutton in Airedale (or Sutton-in-Craven).


Interior Features

Interior Decoration


Corbel reset over W doorway

In the lowest stage of the tower, reset over the W doorway, is a corbel of the mid-12thc period. It was probably found during restoration work in 1901, at the same time as the pre-Conquest carved stones. The corbel has been trimmed of 20-30mm of stone at the top and sides so that no more than the man’s face remains; there seems to be a small break below the mouth. The face has a squarish, probably bare, forehead; large eyes; a narrow moustache; and a mouth created by one stroke of the carving tool. The prominent eyes are outlined by a double line, making a shape which is rounded at the centre of the face but pointed at the outer corner; the nose is hardly indicated.

Grave-slab used as lintel

A tomb-slab perhaps of 12thc date: this slab was reused as the lintel for a 14thc priest’s doorway in the S wall of the nave. The doorway had been blocked, but was partially uncovered from inside during the 1901-1903 restorations. The slab has incised carving,  in cable pattern, of a large saltire cross spanning the centre of the slab. Where the two arms intersect is a plain cornerwise square. In the quadrants at either visible end of the slab, a Maltese cross. The cross at the W end has an incised central circle and bored hole; its N and S arms are attached by cable straps to the hidden W termination of the slab. The cross at the E end is more worn, but seems to have had a similar central circle and hole; the E and W arms each contain an incised circle; there are no straps.

Depth of recess approx. 0.55m
Max. E-W length in wall of S aisle 1.625m
Max. length exposed in soffit 1.21m
Thickness of slab approx. 0.15m

Reused Stone, S arcade, Pier 3 base support

This stone supports the base of pier 3 and is below floor level; the carving of the pattern can be glimpsed in a slot on the S side of pier 3 of the S arcade. The pattern is the same as the reused stone in the W respond. It is perhaps better preserved, but it is uncertain whether the carved stone forms the complete support on the S side, as there is a break on the E end covered with a sealant and the vertical face at the E end of the slot in the floor is filled in.

Total width across break 0.88m
Width of stone N-S 0.24m
Width W-E to break 0.64m

Reused Stone, S arcade, W respond base

This stone forms part of the base of the W respond of the S arcade. The arcade is probably no later than c.1300 with much modern restoration of bases and capitals. The stone is above a chamfered plinth and is topped by a half-quatrefoil base uniform with the arcade. The wide E face is carved with a series of narrow, pointed upright leaves; the SE angle has a fan of worn rounded leaves; there are indications that the NE angle had a similar foliate fan; the S face has horizontal mouldings on the chamfer. There are the remains of a similar stone in the base of pier 3. 

Depth of stone (E-W) 0.42m
Height of stone 0.275m
Width of stone with pattern (N-S) 0.77m


Pre-Conquest carved stones on display suggest a church from at least the 10thc (Coatsworth 2008, 178-182).

The plan of the earlier stone church: describing the demolitions during the restoration, Brereton (1909, 13, 43-44) notes the discovery of the E end of an earlier stone church (or perhaps the E corners of its nave). He concluded that the fourth pillars from the W marked the limits of the original church, noting that during the recent restoration (1901-1903) the end stones were plainly visible on the walls above the pillars.  The four westernmost bays of the nave therefore seem to mark the site of an aisleless earlier church or its nave (Morris 1923, 285-86). A church of some kind existed at the time of the Domesday survey, while the corbel suggests a stone church by the mid-12thc.

The Rev. E. W. Brereton’s account of the church and the restoration is available in a retyped version on-line at www.; page numbers in this report refer to the original printed version.

Corbel: the corbel has been suggested as pre-Conquest, perhaps the face of Odin (Billingsley 2008), but in general treatment it resembles some of those at Adel, N of Leeds, although the Kildwick corbel was probably not of such fine workmanship. It is one of a quite common type of human face having a degree of lop-sidedness, exaggeration or distortion. The facial expression shows the man’s dismay or amazement at what he sees coming from the sky: Judgement (Wood 2009).

South arcade: Morris (1923, 285-86) notes a Norman carved stone built into the base of the W respond of the S arcade. Brereton (1909, 19) notes that base of one pier, at the SW end of the nave, seems to be formed partly by a 12thc abacus reversed, and another, the 3rd from the SW end of the nave. Brereton says that new capitals and bases were provided at the restoration for all piers except those that were rebuilt, that is the 2nd and 3rd from the W on the S side.

The large carved stone in the W respond base (item 2), if Romanesque, is most likely to have been an inverted impost since bases are seldom so ornamented, yet Ron Baxter says he has not seen this kind of vertical fluting in that position on an impost before. He also thinks the kind of vertical fluting on the impost is a typical Romanesque ornament. The pattern might recall a capital in the blank arcading in the presbytery of Bolton Priory, and similar capitals at Bridlington Priory in the remains of the cloister arcade, but the pattern at those sites, although having pointed tips, is continuous and concertina-folded, not made up of separate units or leaves as at Kildwick. The units in a 12thc pattern of upright leaves, as seen throughout the county, for example at Kirkstall Abbey (18 miles down-river), are round-headed and have shared sides. The pattern as carved at Kildwick has not been seen on Romanesque work in Yorkshire. (fieldworker)

Stones 2 and 3 are not obviously Romanesque, and the suspicion arises that they might be re-used Roman work; the better preserved example, in the W respond, is larger than the Romanesque average for that position, but that may be because the geology allowed it. However size is a distinguishing feature of Roman work because they had better lifting gear. A Roman road ran through Airedale, although no remains of buildings or bridges are known. Martin Henig and Penny Coombe think there is just a possibility that the stones reused in the arcade could be Roman, but cannot suggest a comparison for the pattern. Without comparisons of either period, the matter is open for further exploration; perhaps lidar imaging will show up some previously unknown Roman remains in the locality.

Two possibly Romanesque period grave-slabs found at the restoration: the account of the 1901-1903 restoration given by E. W. Brereton shows that most of that work concerned the chancel,  the S aisle and arcade. Several pre-Conquest pieces were found in the S wall of the chancel, where there was also found an old coffin lid covered with incised ornament of herringbone pattern (1909, 31). This item has been lost. Brereton also mentions (1909, 44) the removal of plaster over the blocked doorway on the S side that revealed the slab which had been reused in medieval times as a lintel.

The church building is unusually long (Brereton, 1909, 18). It has a W tower, a six-bay nave and a four-bay chancel, both with N and S aisles; as usual in this district of Craven, there is no chancel arch. The church was restored in 1901-1903 by Austin & Paley (Brereton 1909).


  • J. Billingsley, 'An early carved head and Anglo-Danish sculptures at Kildwick church, North Yorkshire', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 80 (2008), 43-50.

  • E. W. Brereton, History of the Ancient and Historic Church of St Andrew Kildwick-in-Craven, Crosshills, 1909.

  • E. Coatsworth, Western YorkshireCorpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, vol. 8, Oxford, 2008.

  • J. E. Morris, The West Riding of Yorkshire, London, 1919.

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

  • Victoria County History: County of York, II, London, 1912, 207 and 307.

  • Victoria County History: County of York, III, London, 1913, 195.

  • R. Wood, 'A Romanesque corbel at Kildwick church, North Yorkshire', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 81 (2009) 355-56.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SE 010 458 
now: North Yorkshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, West Riding
now: West Yorkshire and the Dales
formerly: Bradford
medieval: York
now: St Andrew
medieval: St Andrew
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Rita Wood 
Visit Date
03 and 17 September 2009, 07 Nov 2016