St Mary, Goldsborough, Yorkshire, West Riding

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Feature Sets (3)


Goldsborough is a village situated about one mile east of Knaresborough. The church of St Mary the Virgin adjoins the gatehouse or former stables of the Hall. It has nave with aisles, W tower, chancel with vestry to north, and contains various effigies. (Leach and Pevsner 2009, 282-3). The guidebook claims that the E and W ends of the nave show mid-twelfth-century walling.

The only Romanesque sculpture present is found on the S doorway, now on the S wall of the S aisle. Kelk suggests that the doorway may have been moved here from the nave in the early fourteenth century. It has been restored in recent years. An exterior feature, possibly a font, is also recorded here.


At time of DB, Nigel held it of the Count of Mortain; now waste. No mention of church. About 1095, Hubert held Goldsborough of Ralph Paynel. 


Exterior Features


S doorway to S aisle of nave

Round-headed doorway, of two orders. Stone used is a mixture of fine gritstone, some pinkish, and Magnesian limestone. The first order has no capitals so its plain jambs pass oddly into a chevron arch

The jambs are sandstone and the arches limestone. The replacement shafts and capital seem all to be in sandstone, as does the original capital on the R.

First order has the residue of a plinth a with chamfered corner; plain jambs; no capitals, but the jambs pass with a hiatus into an arch with plain soffit and chevron mouldings on face. This is much worn where original, renewed on L side. Centrifugal chevron moulding as a roll and then as a hollow, bounded on inner and outer margins by parallel ridges.

Second order: A base shared in an irregular way with the support to the hoodmould. The next course is in original stone too, a rounded plinth and then the detached column, of which a slight portion of the original remains on the L, but otherwise the columns are restorations.

Small cushion capitals above a small round ring, renewed on the L, original on the R. The R capital has a lion on the shield on the W face. The S face is divided horizontally into two unequal areas at the point where the curve meets the upright; there is a finely-detailed foliage pattern in the top strip. On the L side of this field the foliage pattern is symmetrical horizontally, on the R the line of symmetry is vertical. The L capital is a restoration and has foliage patterns on both faces in the upper band. 

There is no impost.

The arch is of 14 beakheads placed on a roll moulding in the usual way. They are beakheads with large plain beaks and small ears, other details vary slightly throughout.

1 and 2 have been replaced, but a Galbraith photo in the Conway Library comes to our aid – 353/21(7). Her photograph shows that the original beakhead No.1 had an eight-rayed star in a circle between the ears. The second beakhead is not discernible under the creeper stems.

3    forehead with open parallel 'v's

4    forehead with steeper vs, an ornament with spirals on a 'v' at the centre

5    worn, no detailed photo.

6    similar to 4, but no ornament visible

7    a smaller head, curved lines over each eye, central ornament worn

8    a narrow voussoir, the central of three narrow ones at the apex, similar to 6

9    similar to 6 and 8

10   similar to 6

11   a slightly wider head, forehead lined parallel to eyebrows, the centre with a symmetrical foliage pattern within a raised border. The raised eyeballs have radial lines

12    forehead with parallel lines branching from the central vertical axis; eyballs patterned over a more extensive area than 11. The pattern seems to be of vs.

13    somewhat decayed, no details visible.

14    forehead with symmetrical foliage pattern; eyeballs with radial lines, like grand eyelashes!

Label a modern structure composed of four large pieces with a hollow chamfer, terminating with returned mouldings.


2nd order, R capital, h. incl. necking 0.21m
2nd order, R capital, h. without necking 0.19m
h. of opening 2.63m
w. of opening 1.065m

Loose Sculpture


Possible ‘font’ in the churchyard, origin unclear, possibly Roman. 



External diameter 1.32m
Ht. 0.79m
Inner diameter 0.8m


Modern history and restoration of the doorway

Evidence of the twentieth-century condition of the doorway was provided in the form of three printed pages provided by Mrs Pat Wood, a local resident. The first sheet probably shows the doorway in c.1900-1922; lower parts of the shafts are beginning to wear, but no other detail is clear. The second image is dated 1970 - the Virginia creeper when in leaf would have covered the arch. The shafts appear much more worn, and were the object of the next restoration. This can be seen in the picture dated 1989: shafts renewed throughout, also the left-hand capital. Despite the removal of the holdfasts of the creeper (or perhaps because of that), the arch has suffered. Since then, both the beakhead and the chevron orders have been renewed in the first two voussoirs from the L.  There are photos by Kit Galbraith in the Conway Library, reference 353/21(3-7). These show that when she visited the church the creeper was similar to the 1970 view. The lost left capital may be illustrated by Galbraith in 353/21(5,6). These faces have foliate patterns in the upper part of the capital similar to the S face of the R capital.


When the fieldworker first saw the doorway, around 1995, the new voussoirs were in place and the doorway appeared as if painted white. The above local contact staed that a preservative had been applied in the past, and also that the carved stones removed were not retained. At the second visit, in 2014, the doorway had been cleaned so that most of the white coating had been removed. The use of limestone and sandstone mixed has become clearer.  It is very unusual to have this mixture of stone types in one doorway: perhaps the present S doorway is made from two originals. 


A distant parallel might be drawn between the R capital of the doorway and the capital fixed near the tower at Campsall and exhibited in 1984.


The marking of one or two of the beakheads with motifs of regular star patterns or sprays of foliage occurs at other sites. It might suggest the beakheads were branded, that is, their evil was under control.

Exterior 'font' feature

Compare Otley stone diam. 0.75m; and South Stainley capital, diam. 0.8m.


  • Kelk, Rev. A. H. Short History of St Mary the Virgin, Goldsborough (Goldsborough, undated).

  • P. Leach and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire West Riding - Leeds, Bradford and the North (Yale, 2009).

The church from the SE.
Interior of church


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SE 384 561 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, West Riding
now: North Yorkshire
medieval: York
formerly: Ripon and Leeds
now: West Yorkshire and the Dales
now: St Mary
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Rita Wood 
Visit Date
30 May 2000, 21 Aug 2014