The church stands prominently on an outlier of the magnesian limestone escarpment, with the earthworks of a motte-and-bailey castle immediately to its west; this was the successor to the hall of Earl Edwin of Mercia (recorded in Domesday Book), and later the administrative centre for this large part of the Honour of Tickhill.
The chancel is essentially late twelfth-century, built of local Rotherham Red sandstone in its lower parts on the S side, and Magnesian limestone rubble elsewhere, though heightened later on. Slim pilaster buttresses, constructed of magnesian limestone, can be seen (partial on the N wall) and on the S chancel wall (to the W of the priest's door and at the SE corner), and others are found on the E wall (at each corner and below the Perp window).
The N arcade of the nave consists partly of re-used twelfth-century material; the imposts and arches are later. The nave, aisles and tower were built in Magnesian limestone ashlar in the late 14thc in early Perpendicular style. The tower and its spire (rising to 185 feet) is one of the finest in Yorkshire.
There are remnants of 12thc features in the walls of the chancel; the N arcade contains late 12thc material. The pre-Conquest tower doorway was filled by a later, twelfth-century, doorway which itself has been blocked.
The earliest surviving feature, the N door of a late Anglo-Saxon porticus, now on the N wall of the nave aisle (vestry), probably formed the entrance into the N porticus of a large eleventh-century church (perhaps built for Earl Edwin). For a plan and elevation see Taylor and Taylor, I, p. 374.
The soke and the large parish of Laughton contained several townships and hamlets on the fertile soils of the magnesian limestone belt.
The church was given to York Minster as the basis for a prebend by Queen Matilda and King Henry I probably in 1104-1105, and the prebendary became rector of Laughton (C.T. Clay, York Minster Fasti II, YAS. Rec. Ser. Wakefield 1959, pp 49-51; Regesta Hen. I nos 675,720). Before this, the tithes at least had been granted to Blyth priory by Roger de Busli, lord of the Honour of Tickhill; the king overruled this, but Blyth retained a pension from Laughton in 1534-4 (Fasti II loc. cit.). Laughton was appropriated to the chancellorship of York in 1484 (Fasti II loc. cit.) The chapel of Thorpe Salvin was confirmed to the church of Laughton in 1230, and the prebend also had some rights over the church of Handsworth (Fasti II, p.50). The prebendaries named by Clay, starting in 1224, appear to be papal or royal nominees rather than residents. The great church builder, William of Wykeham, became prebend of Laughton about 1377.
On the N side of the tower a smaller, rather odd Norman doorway is set into the large, late Anglo-Saxon one. The doorway has no visible bases but probably was raised on the red sandstone that was already there. The jambs of the Notman doorway are plain with a 0.1m chamfer; a segmental head is made up of one large stone and one small one, originally all one piece. Its inner edge is stilted with a narrow chamfer. The label consists of three sections: the central part carved from a lighter stone, with a flat face and a chamfer on the outer and inner side. This piece is flanked by two lower, darker, worn stones, with triangular chamfer.
|Height of opening||2.09m|
|Width of opening||0.82m|
The remains of a priest’s doorway are seen on the chancel exterior, the W of a Norman pilaster buttress and the (renewed) 13thc priest's door. In Ryder's words, the doorway has 'one stone of the cut back hoodmould around its arched head'. The E jamb and more of the head of the Norman priest's door is evident in the interior, where in the 14thc it was used to form the east side of a lancet-shaped recess.
There are the remains of windows in all three walls of the chancel. The N wall has a functional window.
On the interior walls, the blocked-up remains of two Norman windows can be seen on the E wall of the chancel on either side of the great Perp window. It is assumed that a third window of similar size was originally in the centre. Nothing is visible on the exterior.
Externally, on the S wall of the chancel are the remnants of a Norman window above the 13thc priest's door (which has been renewed). Internally, the remnants of this window, largely obscured by a later window, can be seen; to the E are the remains of a second window, near the SE corner of the chancel.
On the exterior of the N wall of the chancel, a Norman window opening is visible above the vestry. Internally, the N wall of the chancel has a 17th or 18thc door with a semi-circular arch leading into the vestry which was built at that time. Above this doorway can be seen the same window, the bottom of its splay blocked.
In the N wall of the chancel, Peter Ryder has identified vestiges of a further window to the W of the functional window: 'a voussoir or two of its rear arch may be in situ outside the hoodmould of the later arcade, and [also] above that the cut back end of its internal hood, at the same level of the extant window further east' (pers. comm. 2017). See Comments for the implications of this find.
A Norman stringcourse is visible on the external E wall of the chancel (where the central part has been lowered to accommodate the Perp window) and its former course can be traced on the chancel S wall. Most string courses have been trimmed back flush with the main walling.
A stone with part of incised chevron is reused in the E wall of the chancel, in the S section.
The late 14thc four-bay N arcade of the nave reused 12thc columns and their square capitals; imposts belong to the later work. The columns are heavily re-tooled. The worn bases with a simple torus may be original too.
This is a 14thc type.
With a narrow roll necking, a hollow bell with waterleaf on each angle.
Multi-scallop, with six repeats on each side, darts between the cones, and a deep plain band above.
With a plain, deep concave chamfer and a short upright.
In the S wall of the chancel, to the E, is a piscina of a shape that is perhaps unparalleled elsewhere in Britain. Two blocks of Rotherham Red sandstone (the material of the earliest building) form a triangular head. Peter Ryder has argued (1982, 74) that this pre-Conquest feature has been reused in the 12thc rebuilding of the chancel.
A simple sedilia in the internal S wall of the chancel might be a rare example from the late 12thc, but ‘appears to be an insertion in the [late12thc] wall’ (Ryder, 74). It has a round arched head, chamfered.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Yorkshire: West Riding, Harmondsworth, 1967. 2nd. ed. Revised E. Radcliffe. 1967.
Paul C. Buckland, 'Ragnarök and the Stones of York', in John Sheehan and Donnchadh O Corrain (eds), The Viking Age. Four Courts Press, 2010, 2-12.
Lawrence Butler (ed.), The Yorkshire Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874). YAS Rec. Ser. CLIX, (2007), 269-71.
C.T. Clay, York Minster Fasti II. YAS Rec. Ser. Wakefield, 1959, 49-51.
E. Coatsworth, Western Yorkshire. CASSS vol. VIII, Oxford 2008.
R. Harman and N. Pevsner, Yorkshire West Riding: Sheffield and the South. London 2017, 378-80.
David Hey, The Making of South Yorkshire (Landmark), 2003, 48-50; 73-4.
Charles E. Keyser, ‘The Norman Doorways of Yorkshire’, in T.M. Fallow, ed. Memorials of Old Yorkshire (1909), 165-219.
J. E. Morris, The West Riding of Yorkshire, 2nd ed. (1906) 1919.
Richard Morris, Churches in the Landscape (Dent, 1989), pp. 258-9, 461, pl.23.
P. F. Ryder, Saxon Churches in South Yorkshire (South Yorkshire County Council, 1982), pp. 71-83.
H. M. Taylor and Joan Taylor, Anglo-Saxon Architecture, I, pp. 373-6.