St Oswald, Flamborough, Yorkshire, East Riding

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Feature Sets (3)


The church has an aisled nave, aisled chancel and west tower. It is mostly of limestone ashlar, but the N aisle wall is made with cobbles. The N and S arcades are early 13th c. In 1864-9, the Norman chancel arch, which was subsiding, was rebuilt (VCHER, ii, 162). When visited by Sir Stephen Glynne in 1857 the church had ‘no tower, only a wooden belfry... the chancel arch has good mouldings', but he does not mention the font (Butler 2007, 182-3, with illustration of the exterior c.1840). There was an Early English pointed arch in the W wall of the nave until 1897, suggesting a tower by about 1300 (VCHER, ii, 162). It is said that the W tower fell in 1515 (Brearley 1971, 24); the present tower was built in 1897. 

The choir screen and other woodwork is thought to have come from Bridlington Priory at the Dissolution. Sculpture of the Romanesque period is on the chancel arch and the font.


In 1086, there were two estates, one held by Hugh earl of Chester. The tenant of the other, larger, estate was Hugh son of Norman, then it passed to William son of Niel, perhaps the Niel who was made constable of Chester (VCHER, ii, 154).

The church is first mentioned in a charter of 1094-1100, which records that it was given by Hugh, earl of Chester to Whitby Abbey, but this is thought to be spurious, as there is no further evidence that Whitby held Flambrough church. By 1130, when it was next mentioned, the church had been given by William son of Niel to Bridlington Priory (VCHER, ii, 160). 


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

The arch is covered on the W by a very fine deep gallery or screen thought to have come from Bridlington Priory at the Dissolution. The woodwork is cut into the capitals, and itself cut to fit, and it obscures the mouldings of the arch from the W especially. Seen from the E, the screen is still large in size though modest in decoration.


Height of capital and ring 0.27m
Height of capital, ring and impost 0.38m
Width of opening 4.44m
1st order

First order, common to E and W. A square plinth; closely fitted to the plinth, an upright plain moulding; an upright waisted torus. Half column. S ring is integral with the capital; it has a rectangular profile, the upright of this being scored with diagonal lines as if setting out a rope moulding but not finished. The S capital has a chevron or zigzag pattern in the lower part; the upper part has three scallops on the side but these are weak and not so noticable as the zigzags, which move in a lively manner across the bell, their tips rising higher each time towards the angle.

The N capital has a ring of the same section but plain, while in the capital itself there are two and a half or three scallops with a rising pattern of truncated leaves or batons.

In the arch in the soffit are big rolls on the angles with a ridge between them; plain on the face.

2nd order to chancel

Second order to chancel. Bases as first order, but damaged or not visible. An engaged column. S Capital double scallop, with one scallop on the angle, otherwise plain; N capital with scallops and batons as the capitals of the second order to nave. In the arch, plain and square. 

2nd order to nave.

Second order to nave. Base similar to first orderEngaged column. Capitals with same rectangular ring as before, and N and S of similar form. They are double scallop with a dart between. 

In the arch a smaller angle roll than in order one, with outside it probably a hollow; label plain and chamfered. The screen obsures some of this.





The cylindrical font is at the W end of the nave, against a screen to the tower arch. It is set on a modern base but, the cylinder being wider than it is high, the modern base might replace an earlier one of much the same form.

At the bottom, a plain band with central scored groove. Above that the sides are given a diamond or trellis pattern. The pattern is two diamonds high in a grid of wide rounded mouldings. Each diamond of the main grid contains another outlined with a narrow border. The edges are not sharp. All sides of the font were photographed in order to show the distortion in the diamonds, and to show the uncarved vertical area. This plain area is now against the screen, and perhaps originally was expected to stand near a wall. Not only has work been saved by leaving a panel uncarved, but some of the large diamonds to the L of the gap have not been given the narrow border either.

Above this pattern, all round the rim, is a band which is of similar width to that at the bottom, but marked into a double cable pattern, slightly rounded off (contrast the cuts in the ring on the capital on the S side of the chancel arch). Part of the rim has been renewed. The horizontal top of the cylinder is plain, with a rebate for the lead.

Depth of interior of bowl 0.29m
External diameter of bowl 0.678m
Height of font cylinder only, excluding plinth 0.565m
Internal diameter of bowl 0.51m
Width of blank area approx. 0.17m



  • Borthwick Insititute, Fac. 1868/10

  • F. Brearley, A History of Flamborough. Driffield 1971.

  • L. A. S. Butler, ed., The Yorkshire Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874). Y. A. Soc. Record series 159, Woodbridge 2007.

  • J. E. Morris, The East Riding of Yorkshire. 2nd ed. (1906) 1919.

  • N. Pevsner & D. Neave, Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd. ed. London, 1995, p. 421.

  • Victoria County History, A History of the County of York East Riding, ii. London 1974.

Tower from N.
Tower from SE.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TA 226 702 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, East Riding
now: East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval: York
now: York
now: St Oswald
medieval: St Oswald (Lawton 1842, 296)
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Rita Wood 
Visit Date
11 May 2004