All Saints, Nafferton, Yorkshire, East Riding

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Feature Sets (3)


The church stands on a small but prominent hill in the middle of a large village and overlooking an extensive pond. There is a W tower, aisled nave and chancel (Pevsner and Neave 1995, 618-9).

Most of the structure is later than our period, but the chancel arch has been refashioned from a Romanesque original, and there is a splendid cylindrical font. 


In 1086 there were 3 estates, the largest of over 23 carucates held by William de Percy, one of 1 carucate in Pockthorpe was held by the count of Mortain, and 6 bovates were retained by the king. The pre-Conquest value was £8, in Domesday Book £2.10s. Waste is not mentioned. However, though Percy had land for 15 ploughs he had only 3, while 13 villeins had 3 more. The Mortain estate passed to the Percies, and they also appear to have acquired the Crown estate. (VCH ER, II, 285.).

The church is first mentioned in 1232, when it belonged to the Percies. Between 1286 and 1291 the church was acquired by Meaux abbey. The advowson belonged to the Percies until 1302, when it was granted to Meaux. After 1303 it was in the gift of the archbishop of York (VCH ER II, 293).


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

The arch is slightly pointed and four-centred (VCHER, II, 294). According to Pevsner and Neave (1995, 618)) ‘the chancel belongs to the late C13’, but it is not clear when the arch was remodelled. The arch is painted white, but tooling is still noticeable, except perhaps in the highest parts of the arch.

There is no label.

Height from floor to top of impost 2.65m
Width of opening 2.94m
1st order

The round half columns have no bases.

The L necking is rounded with a medial groove. The L capital has fairly bold spiral volutes with two shallow cones between them on the S face. The shields are outlined with shallow incised lines. Above the volutes and shields, a deep upright has two horizontal incised lines. The impost is chamfered with a deep plain upright.

The R necking also has a double moulding, but this time cut into a double cable pattern. The necking may perhaps be remade on the E side. The R capital is a single scallop, with the bell ornamented with slender upright leaves, with their tips touching the curve of the scallop. In the centre of each leaf is either another leaf widening to show veining in the upper part, or more probably a stalk and ears of wheat. These ears can most easily be seen on the R side of the main face. The leaves are rigid apart from the elongated ones on the angles, where they gently and elegantly undulate. The shield of the capital is divided into two, with a sunken segment against the impost block and a crescent, blunted on the angle below. The impost is chamfered and plain as on L.

The arch is plain and square, apart from the continuous hollow on the angle, where a series of prominent domes, one per voussoir, is carved.

2nd order

The second order is plain and square with the wall throughout, only marked by an impost, which continues as a string course for about a metre onto the E wall of the nave.



Font at W end of nave.

Of the series of Wolds fonts, this is among the largest in diameter, and most intricately decorated. It stands on a simple modern stem.

The side has a trellis grid pattern formed of double strands which interweave as they cross. The strands continue straight to the very bottom, which has a nibbled edge. At the top, the double strands loop round and return down the grid, whereas at the bottom they are cut off by the edge. There are 19 loops just below the top. They are numbered from L to R round the font.

The cable pattern at the top is on the angle of the rim, showing on both side and top surfaces. It has well-rounded, uneven in thickness segments. There are traces of the medieval fastenings, with an inset repair on the N side, and a scar on the S. The basin is straight-sided with a floor that slopes gradually to the drain hole. The basin is relatively large, and about the same depth as that at Kirkburn.

Depth of interior 0.39m
External diameter 0.92m
Height 0.58m
Internal diameter 0.67m


Chancel arch, R capital: The possible ears of wheat on this capital might refer to teaching developed from the parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:3-8, 18-23), and remind the congregation about the Harvest of Souls. With its proximity to the most sacred part of the church, the chancel arch and its decoration could refer to threshing (Matt. 3:12), that is, the Last Judgment. Two corbels at Kirkburn relate the subject (nos. NS13 and NS19). No corresponding motif of grapes survives, so a reference to the Eucharist is not evident.

The decorative pattern in the arch is unusual for its location. It can be more often found in labels, as at Brayton (YW), or imposts, as at Bubwith.

Font patterns: The loops at the top of the sides might perhaps have been inspired by arcading, which is common on fonts, but it is possible these loops derive from the returns of Insular pattern-making, or from a simple woven pattern as on a capital at Liverton (YN). The similarity to such patterns would be more evident if the spaces in the grid were blank.

The odd number of loops (19) may suggest that the pattern was designed by eye, not by measurement. There are simple experiments with the grid, such as one instance of the interweaving of two adjacent double loops, while the invention of so many variations of the fillings in the diamond-shaped spaces may suggests a craftsman's spontaneous execution of detail rather than the execution of a meticulously planned design. There are adjacent pairs of motifs in slightly different forms, which might suggest that perhaps a second workman was allowed to try his hand. Although the irregular layout is rated as ‘very crude’ in Pevsner and Neave (1995, 619), the design is little different from those on the chancel arch pillars at Healaugh (YW), which are generally considered bold and striking. 


  • F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications or England’s Patron Saints, London 1899, III, 207.

  • G. Homan, All Saints Church, Nafferton, Pocklington, 1995.

  • 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), 305-6.

  • N. Pevsner and D. Neave, Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd. ed. (London, 1995).

  • Victoria County History: East Riding of Yorkshire, II (Dickering Wapentake), 1974.

The church from S.
The church from S.
Interior view to NE, with chancel arch.
Interior view to SW, with font under the organ gallery.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TA 055 590 
now: East Riding of Yorkshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, East Riding
medieval: York
now: York
medieval: All Saints
now: All Saints
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Rita Wood 
Visit Date
12 November 2004