The small church stands near the crest of a hill, surrounded by houses of the village of Old Edlington on three sides, with fields to the N and NW. To the N in the valley are the village and estates of New Edlington. The church consists of a nave, chancel, tower and a N aisle.
The chancel, nave and lower part of the tower are Romanesque, with a Perp. tower and the majority of the windows. The S doorway, chancel arch and corbels are fine examples of Romanesque carving. This was the first church to be vested in the Redundant Churches Fund [now Churches Conservation Trust]. The roof was removed by the diocese in 1966 when the building was subject to constant vandalism. A demolition order for all but the tower was recommended at vesting [in 1971] (Anon., 1990). Fortunately this was avoided and the church is now roofed and well maintained, although past and present damp remains a problem.
The Romanesque sculpture is chiefly on doorway, corbels, a window, chancel arch and string course. There are corbels on the N and S walls of both nave and chancel; they are in their original position but the walls have been heightened above them for the battlements. The corbels on the N side have been covered since the building of the N aisle (c.1200) and N chapel (date uncertain; possibly late 13th c.). An unusual feature of the corbels at Old Edlington is that several of the animals are gagged with a sausage-shaped soft-looking pad, rather than being muzzled (though there are muzzled examples).
The vill is in Domesday Book but no church is mentioned. The vill was in 1086 held of the Percies by Malger, ancestor of the Vavasours. The advowson of the church is mentioned temp. Henry II (Thompson and Clay 1933, 106) and by 1249-50, if not before, part of the advowson was in Vavasour’s hands (Raine 1872, 108).
This is a pointed doorway of one order and label, date c.1200 according to Pevsner. It is to be associated with the 2nd phase of 12th-century work on the church, which comprised the N arcade and the tower. 1st order plain on the face, a slightly rounded chamfer on the angle marked off by an arris from the plain face. The label profile was probably rounded outside and chamfered inside; the stops are worn but had some simple prominent ornament.
|Height of opening||2.12m|
|Width of opening||0.90m|
Round-headed doorway of 2 orders and a label. Detailed, competent, covered with carving, but the condition is very poor, with breakage, erosion and wear interrupting the patterning. Bases sunk below paving level, but left visible. Very decayed, but their structure seems to have been a broad chamfered plinth, and then the lowest block of the jambs in both orders starting directly (1st) or plain for a short height (2nd) on top of that.
|Height of opening to modern step, additional 0,155m exposed to base||2.12m|
|Width of opening||1.01m|
This is continuous from base throughout, with no indication of capital or impost. Plain in the soffit. On the face, a bold chevron roll; a row of hollow chevron; an arris and a less prominent chevron row then plain to the second order. On the angle, a row of prominent balls cut into rounded units, probably grape; few of these remain except at the top of the arch.
This is broad and flat, edged outside with billet moulding. The main face is unusually highly-carved, and altogether this was not a very practical hoodmould to shelter the rest of the doorway. The pattern is a row of medallions and ellipses, the spaces between these larger units filled with sprays of foliage. In the medallions is a ring of beading, then a ring of cusps and then a roundel with a raised conical centre. The ellipses have their long dimension on the radius of the arch; they contain a symmetrical leaf with round-tipped leaflets arranged up the mid-rib. Ellipses seem to be placed particularly to make up the space at joints in the long stones; medallions are not split. The sprays have 3 pointed leaves to both inside and outside, and are bound in the centre with a strap. Label-stops are remnants of what are likely to have been two pairs of men’s heads; a detail of an eye remains on the inner head on the R side.
These are of the usual plain, splayed kind.
A round-headed window of one order and no label, much decayed and patched with new plain stone. There are no bases to the detached shafts, which rest directly on a chamfered sill shaped at either end to take a square base or plinth. Judging by the various wear on the cylinders forming the shafts, there have been several periods of replacement. The only remaining section of original shaft is on the L side at the top, this appears to have had a small pattern of trellis type. Capitals indecipherable, to the extent that it cannot be determined if they had been scallop or waterleaf; in the arch, four centrifugal chevron voussoirs remain. Inside, the plain window splay has been recut, the head enlarged. See Comments, Thompson 1909; fieldworker.
String course on all 4 sides of the tower, at the top of the earliest work. This course projects rather than forming a set-back, and was probably near the top of the late 12th-century tower. The vertical face is cut into a series of semi-circular scallops, which are separated by a little more than one diameter of plain upright. At the corners of the tower, two semicircles touch, to make a form that somewhat resembles a scallop capital. The chamfered lower face of the string-course supports cylindrical extensions behind the semicircles. There is no indication of any further carving on the vertical face of the scallops.
1. a billet moulding on a stepped series of layers.
2. a muzzled animal with the tip of its tongue showing in its mouth. The upper part of the corbel, the narrow upright, here has an incised zigzag pattern.
3. a billet block, as before.
4. two men’s heads, looking in opposite directions; the man looking NW has his tongue hanging out, the man looking NE has his mouth closed.
5. a billet block.
6. a man’s head, fattish, worn. We thought, perhaps a woman, but not certain.
7, 8 and 9: billet blocks.
Described from L to R. These corbels are the most weathered:
1. gagged beast with ears.
2. indecipherable; worn bulk with two projecting knobs.
3. a man’s head, tapered, apparently expressionless.
4. a man’s head, square and with his tongue out and drooping, or the corners of his mouth turned down.
5. muzzled mask with pointed head.
6. a man’s head with large eyes (a drain-pipe where there would have been a corbel).
7. muzzled mask with pointed head.
8. animal head.
9. a squarish animal head with pointed ears, and a small row of teeth showing in the downward surface.
10. possibly a man’s head, he may be holding something on the E side (compare NS 9 and NS18).
11. squarish mask, gagged.
12. an animal?
13. a mask, gagged (drain-pipe).
14. the remains of a gagged beast.
15. a man’s head.
16. two men’s heads.
1. two heads: that on the L broken; that on the R similar to CN4 but lips closed.
2. broken – a mask with pointed ears.
4. This complex subject is interpreted as two men standing, their heads on the angles and looking diagonally outward. They smile. They hold two spears in the centre of the N face of the corbel. Like the crosier held by the corbel NS9, the lower part of the spear-shaft is curved under the corbel. The legs are not distinguishable.
6. a ram’s head.
1. large mask with open mouth.
2. two horses, sharing one gag.
3, 4, 5: masks with gags. It is hard to tell whether there is a narrow tongue coming out of the mouth, a single central fang rising from the lower jaw, or a hook from elsewhere holding down the jaw and keeping the gag in place. The form is wider at the bottom, tapering upwards to a point. (porch roof interrupts the sequence).
6. mask with two of the same tangs or tongue; no gag.
7. muzzled animal with pointed ears and its tongue showing in the slightly open mouth.
8. symmetrical face-to-face wyverns, their heads still just legible, their tails looped round in the lower part of the corbel. Suggestions remain of their forearms, but no wings.
9. a bishop, since he has a crosier. His face placid, with perhaps a slight smile.
10. animal with pointed ears, horns. No teeth, no gag.
11. a ram’s head, compare NN6.
12. symmetrical design with small masks on the angles, emitting strands which loop and are bound together at the bottom, or connect across the front of the corbel.
13. looks like an angel, but this would be highly unusual, and there are no arms. Probably foliage.
14. symmetrical foliage design; the design at the top of the S side of the corbel could be a lion’s face (there seem to be pointed ears), and so the foliage may all be emitted by it, a large fluted leaf to the sides of a central stem.
15. mask with mouth agape and tongue hanging out. 16. muzzled animal with pointed ears, its tongue showing between the jaws.
17. two heads, one with pointed ears (?the other human); they share a gag.
18. a man’s head, he holds a horn in his left hand and looks to his right.
First order to nave and chancel: Plain and square plinth; round bases convex below, concave above. Coursed half-column. Plain roughly-rounded necking. The capitals, of a very simple shape, are covered with delicate patterns. The L capital has larger and smaller beaded interlaced semicircles with symmetrical fluted foliage in every space; the R capital is a shade more sophisticated, with only large reeded semicircles and very elegant symmetrical foliage patterns. Impost with plain (or slightly hollow in some cases) chamfer; two quirks a little above the bottom of the upright. Impost continues to N and S walls in chancel. In the arch, in the soffit, a row of hollow chevron; on the face, a row of centripetal chevron of which the outer margin is bounded by a double row of centripetal arrises of arched outline. This produces unusual movement in the pattern and forms.
Second order to nave only: Plinth and bases as before. Detached shaft. L necking perhaps once cable pattern? L capital has symmetrical foliage patterns similar to those used on the adjacent capital of the first order. Imposts as before. R necking plain, capital a double scallop with darts between the cones. Impost as before, it continues to the side walls on both N and S. In the arch, in the soffit as for first order. On the face, a row of centripetal chevron, with narrower rows of hollow chevrons and chevrons outside that. No label.
Pointed arch of 2 orders with wide chamfer in the arches. The details of interest for this Corpus are the "plain, big-shaped corbels designed on the model of Roche" (Pevsner 1969, 192). These support the 1st order of the arch. They have a plain cone, a plain coursed column interrupted by a rounded moulding which continues into the walling to R and L; an impost of rectangular plan on the L, octagonal on the R; a further rounded moulding on the R, absent on the L; an impost decayed but simple. The chamfer begins by scooping out the angle within the first course of the springing.
Arcade of 2 bays, dated to c.1200 by Pevsner. Bases throughout of similar form, that is, chamfered and plain plinth in one block; fat double torus. Round respond pillars and pillar of pier 1. Necking and capital integral with impost and all similar, having plain rounded ring, deep hollow chamfer; upright, quirk and hollow chamfer; upright with quirk. Arches pointed, the chamfer is less wide than on the tower arch.
This alcove may be late 12th century; basin renewed. Its position probably indicates that the N aisle of the nave was added some time before that of the chancel. Projecting square basin with the typical four-sided bowl.
Anon., Churches in Retirement: a gazetteer. Redundant Churches Fund. HMSO, London. 1990.
F. Henry and G. Zarnecki, ‘Romanesque arches decorated with human and animal heads’, JBAA 20-21 (1957-58), 1-34.
J. Hunter, South Yorkshire, Deanery of Doncaster 1. Nichols, London.1828.
C. E. Keyser, ‘The Norman Doorways of Yorkshire’, in T.M. Fallow, ed. Memorials of Old Yorkshire, 1909, 180-1.
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.
J. E. Morris, The West Riding of Yorkshire. 2nd ed. (1906) 1919.
N. Pevsner, Yorkshire: West Riding. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth, 1959, 2nd ed. revised E. Radcliffe. 1967
J. Raine, The register, or rolls, of Walter Gray, Lord Archbishop of York. Surtees Society 56. 1872
A. H. Thompson, ‘The village churches of Yorkshire’, in T. M. Fallow, ed. Memorials of Old Yorkshire, 127-8. 1909.
A. H. Thompson and C. T. Clay, ed. Fasti parochiales 1 part 1, Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 85 [Deanery of Doncaster part 1]. Leeds 1933.
A. H. Thompson and C. T. Clay, Fasti parochiales 1 part 2, Yorkshire Archaeological Series 107 [Deanery of Doncaster part 2]. Leeds 1943.