All Saints, Goodmanham, Yorkshire, East Riding

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Feature Sets (4)


The village lies on a spur between two valleys in the Wolds escarpment above Market Weighton. The church is a stout building in an open position looking W, although it is not seen from the Vale. 

The church has a 13thc chancel, a 12thc nave with N arcade dated to c.1190; the W tower was built from the 12thc onward. A hexagonal font is likely to be of the 13thc.

The use of the space below the tower is an unresolved curiosity. The tower was built at the same time as the nave and chancel arch. It had a W doorway, and there are traces of blind arches on the E wall; these are earlier than the present tall round-headed windows adjacent on the N and S walls. The internal doorway with tympanum would have led to a spiral stair vice in the NW angle; weakness on the N and W walls on the slope has interfered with this doorway and the exterior W doorway.

Sculpture of early 12thc decorate the S doorway, the internal doorway and the chancel arch; a W doorway of the same period can be identified; there are two reset fragments. The N arcade can be dated from the end of 12thc. 


According to Bede, Goodmanham was the place where, in 627, Coifi the chief priest desecrated and fired a pagan shrine after Edwin and his council had decided in favour of the conversion to Christianity. 

Various landholders are recorded in the Domesday Book: Earl Morcar, Northmann, Kolgrim and Orm held Goodmanham in 1066; in 1086 the archbishop held land as a berewick of Everingham; Nigel held a manor from Count Robert of Mortain, and a land was held by William de Coleville from Perci. Gislebert Tyson and the King were also landholders from 1086 (VCH Yorkshire, II).


Exterior Features


N doorway to N aisle

Dated to c.1180, with the N arcade. Blocked by brick externally; plain and square. Irregular stones in arch. Shows a pointed arch internally.

Height of opening (approximately) 1.68m
Width of opening 0.86m

S doorway to nave

Round-headed doorway of two orders; no label. Restoration has renewed the jambs and arch of the first order, consequently much of this order is new. The lost shafts of the second order have been replaced with plain corbels to support the capitals. There is some misalignment of voussoirs at the apex of the second order, but the stones are original.

2nd order, L capital, height (excluding necking) 0.2-21m
2nd order, L capital, height (including impost and ring) 0.4m
2nd order, L capital, height (including necking) 0.23-24m
Height of opening 2.305m
Width of opening 1.095m
1st order

Plain, square and continuous. Much of this order is new work, but in the R jamb enough stones have been saved to retain an unusually complicated slot for a closing bar; the L jamb opposite is new stone.

2nd order

No plinth, base or shaft. Rings are both plain. L capital features upright leaves in the bell having small tips turned over forwards. The leaves are emphasised with an incised line. Angle volute with an incised spiral on each side; outside that a large eight-armed star is carved. L impost has a plain chamfer and star-in-square decorates the upright above an arris.

capital sides feature three flutes with an angle volute rising from the two boldest of each face; on the side faces the ridges between the flutes grow into flat spirals. R impost has a roll filling the chamfer, a rounded angle to the impost and two spaced quirks on the upright, similar to the chancel archImpost of both sides is tall and heavy, though they are treated very differently.

The face of the arch is decorated with a row of centrifugal chevrons, two rows of narrow zigzag steps, with a hollow row outside that. On the soffit, which seems to be angled outwards, there is a fat row of chevrons parallel with the others. The two voussoirs misaligned at the top of the arch do not have this profile, but a different soffit with finer rolls or steps; they are from a different arch.

W doorway to tower

The doorway is on the W wall of the tower; it is blocked and almost hidden by a later buttress. On each side of the buttress, a little of the doorway appears, most on the R. No base is visible but there are a double scallop capital, a ‘star-in-square’ impost and above that two stones of the outermost arch. This is flush with the main wall surface but is treated with the amount of sculpture for an inner order rather than a label. There is a row of chevrons meeting on the angle with a knob in the gap. The chevron moulding is rather flat, outlined in the surface of the voussoir rather than moulded proud of it.

Internally, this doorway is outlined by plain flush voussoirs and jambs. Above it, but not quite centrally, is a window opening, also blocked by the buttress.

Height of top of impost above ground 1.37m
Width of buttress at outer W face 1.285m
Width of internal opening 1.02m


In tower

Two functional windows in the N and S walls of the tower space have tall round-headed internal arches or splays, but outside the N window has been broken into by a pointed arch. Both openings are now rectangular.

There is a blocked round-headed window in the W wall above the blocked doorway (illustrated with W doorway). The doorway and window are not exactly aligned.

Interior Features

Interior doorway in N wall at W end.

The blocked doorway, complete with jambs, is on the N wall inside the tower, though may have been on the NW angle before the 1894 work. It is a small doorway and, relative to the present floor level, low. It comprises plain and square jambs flush with the wall, a deep lintel with scale pattern incised, and a plain flush arch of voussoirs which is infilled with three coarsely-tooled blocks making a slightly-recessed tympanum. The horizontal part of this recess has a narrow chamfer in the lintel, as is common. The full extent of the lintel cannot be seen because of the fixed cupboard on the W wall. The scale pattern is unusual in that the pattern becomes irregular in the lower half, especially on the R side.


Depth of lintel 0.34m
Visible height of opening above floor 1.13m
Width of lintel 0.9m
Width of opening 0.61m
Width of tympanum 0.63m


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

Of two orders and label

The arch is distorted, with the L jamb tipping to the N. The arch is more distorted on that side too and there is movement between two voussoirs in each order.

Height of R capital (approximately) 0.34m
Height to top of R impost from first step 3.03m
Width of opening at floor level 1.895m
1st order

Plain and square from the ground, with only the impost breaking into the continuous outline of the opening. It is plain and chamfered with two grooves near the base of upright and a rounded but not prominent moulding between them. The arch is plain in the soffit; remnants of painting or plaster peeling away. On the face, a row of centrifugal chevrons does not reach the angle or the second order. The chevron roll is only slightly rounded: the chevrons lie within the surface of the block, similar to those on the W doorway.

2nd order and label

Double torus, largely restored on both sides. Freestanding shafts in three or four sections. The capitals on L and R are (unusually) similar. The ring is divided horizontally into two portions and decorated by a double cable pattern. The capital has a double-scallop form with the cones not strongly defined. They are crossed by six or seven rows of horizontal chevrons, subtly distinguished by being convex and hollow in section alternately. Each shield of the capitals is filled with four blocks of star-in-square having small domes in the quadrants. On the outer extension of the block containing the capital, the W face has scale pattern, finely cut and regular on the S side, not so accurate on the N. The scales overlap like roof-slates. Impost as before.

The soffit of the arch features a row of chevrons near the first order, then two steps and a row of chevrons are carved on the angle. The angle row continues into the face as centrifugal chevron, and quite energetically so. 

Label: chamfered only, with billet. Outer face probably hidden by plaster.



N arcade

Arcade of three bays, having two piers with square plinths and simple lugs, but S side of pier 1 was remade, except for the lugs. Circular waterholding bases, cylindrical pillars, octagonal capitals, and round arches in two orders plain and square, chamfered to nave. The responds are plain and square, the jambs chamfered with pyramidal chamfer stops at the top on both orders. 

The octagonal capitals have a round ring, shallow concave bell, and in the chamfer of the impost, a band of large nailhead, well-separated, four or five on each side. Two in the centre of each side are square, those on the angles are elaborated, usually into a six-sided boss (or raised star) but occasionally with other forms.

Interior Decoration


Blank arches on E wall in tower space.

There are two barely discernible portions of round-headed arches in the E wall inside the tower at ground level; they show in the splays of the N and S windows. 

Two reset fragments

Fragment of string course reset vertically   

Decorated on both upright and chamfer, the design is of saltire crosses and raised zigzag with domes in the outer triangles.

Reset beakhead voussoir 

The stone used is the darker one which occasionally appears locally.

Height of beakhead 0.23m
Height of string course as reset 0.31m
Width of beakhead 0.13m
Width of string course as reset 0.1m




The less ornated of the two fonts, it is a low, irregular hexagonal form set on a modern hexagonal plinth. The only decoration consists in a hollow channel all round near the top and bottom. The circular basin tapers slightly and has a flat floor with small drainage hole in the centre. No lining. 

Depth of interior of bowl 0.28 - 0.3m
Diameter, external (maximum) 0.75m
Height of font 0.6m
Internal diameter of bowl 0.53m
Length of each side, range 0.36m - 0.445m


The church was restored by Temple Moore between 1894 and 1920 (Borthwick faculty 1894/7; Pevsner and Neave 1995, 437-8).

Subsidence  It is reasonably assumed that the first, and subsequent, churches would have been built on the site of the pagan temple (Pevsner & Neave 1995, 437-8). Both tower and chancel arch show tendency to subside on the N side, but the hill is not more than usually abrupt there: might there be a infilled ditch on that side?

S doorway  Sir Stephen Glynne visited the church in 1863 and said: 'Within the porch is a fine Norman doorway, with enriched chevron mouldings upon shafts, with varied capitals of sculpture, and abaci having the hollow square' (Butler 2007, 190).

W doorway and nave  To judge by what can be seen of the W doorway, it would date to the first half of the 12thc, as the decoration is close to that of the S doorway and the chancel arch.  The difference in width between the doorway inside and the width of the buttress might suggest that the doorway had been of two orders, and that one may be completed and hidden by the buttress. A comparable pattern is used, for example, on the outer of two orders of the reset arch at Otteringham. The W doorway is erroneously considered to be contemporary with the N arcade in Purvis (1940, 8).

Tower space  Goodmanham, with its W doorway and unusual survivals in the ground level of the tower, might perhaps be a monument to investigate for the use of the tower space as a baptistery in the first half of the 12thc; it should also be considered the possibility of a sunken font basin there since a decidedly 12thc type of font is absent. If confirmed, this unusual feature could be related to the pastoral work of the Augustinians (Wood 2011, 146). Only the W doorway and the blocked arches opposite it remain of this early phase; they perhaps formed an arcade which would have included an archway into the church; the space was perhaps lit only by the blocked W window. Borthwick faculty 1894/7, "Plan no. 1, As Present" makes the room approximately 4m square. Other possible functions of this space and W doorway are for a burial ritual, as proposed by David Stocker and Peter Everson for churches in Lincolnshire; and for a Palm Sunday procession (Stocker and Everson 2006). Whatever its purpose, the early 12thc arrangement did not last long: the N and S windows that destroyed the arches were still round-headed, and this suggests that they were presumably inserted to light the lowest stage of the tower in a new way. The tower arch to the church is pointed, it has pyramidal chamfer stops of a bolder form similar to those used on the responds of the N arcade. It could be dated to early 14thc according to Pevsner and Neave (1995, 437; Purvis 1940, 8-9). The internal doorway (perhaps then on the NW angle and not blocked) would have continued to function until the corner of the tower gave way at an unknown date.

The small internal doorway with tympanum has no obvious function at present. In the Norman period small internal doorways with scale pattern lintels often lead to stairs (for example, at Garton-on-the-Wolds). Borthwick faculty 1894/7 (as above) shows the minor doorway diagonally across the NW angle, the normal position for the doorway to a stair vice. Perhaps it was moved in the subsequent work - it was proposed to block the N and S windows and open up the W doorway, but that was all dropped. Access to the upper part of the tower is now given by a wooden ladder formed of a tree trunk with sections of tree for steps (rare survival, also found at Birkin); bells are rung from the ground. 

Scale pattern on chancel arch and doorway lintel  Compared to the pattern as carved for the chancel arch, local opinion is that the ‘finish’ of the lintel in the tower shows it to be the product of an apprentice; the same observation could also be made of the difference between the pattern on the N and S sides of the chancel arch. The expert cut some parts of the required area and the apprentice followed on, in both cases. Scale pattern has been compared to a roof hung with rounded slates, and as symbolic of the 'roof' of the firmament (Wood 2001, 20-21). As carved on the lintel in the tower, it is not primarily a pure geometric pattern, but the concern seems to have been to show the units as overlapping, a continuous surface - it might have been an attempt to depict the all-over multidirectional 'roof' of the firmament. 

N arcade  Dated to c.1190 by Pevsner & Neave, the lugs, chamfer stops, nailhead and ornamented bosses resemble those seen in other late Romanesque work. There is a game played with chamfer stops at Great Driffield, on another late Romanesque arcade, and with other ornament at Hayton. 

Reset beakhead voussoir  It may be from the S doorway, which is likely to have been larger than what the present remains show, and could be the beakhead seen by Morris (1919, 169) on the S exterior wall of the nave. The beakhead somewhat resembles those at Bielby.

Font  Considered as ‘not later than Norman’ (Purvis 1940, 9), although a hexagonal font is not characteristic of the 12thc. It is said to have been rescued from a local farmyard, a garden or a field and it is occasionally in use in preference to the adjacent ‘most ornate village font in the East Riding’ (Pevsner & Neave 1995, 437). A picture in the church shows the font in a romantic, bushy garden, with the inscription ‘Wm. Fowler Del et Fecit’. The irregular hexagonal form and simple hollow mouldings might perhaps be due to the recutting in the 13thc of a plain cylindrical font of the early 12thc - compare Ryther (North Yorkshire) for a Romanesque font up-dated. The internal dimensions and shape of the basin, untouched by any possible reshaping, are similar to many 12thc examples in the Wolds, and general dimensions are within their range. On the other hand, if, as suggested above, in the early 12thc the tower space was a baptistery with a font basin sunk in the floor, the form of the container is rather unknown, but a simple cylinder like so many other fonts that stood on a simple plinth on the floor would have been sufficient.


  • R. Wood, 'The Augustinians and the Romanesque font from Everingham', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 83 (2011), 112-147.

  • Faculty papers in Borthwick Institute, Fac. 1894/7 include plans

  • 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., London, 1919.

  • N. Pevsner & D. Neave, Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd. ed., London, 1995, 437-8.

  • J. S. Purvis, Goodmanham church and village, York, 1940.

  • D. A. Stocker and P. Everson, Summoning St Michael: early Romanesque towers in Lincolnshire, Oxford, 2006.

  • Victoria County History: Yorkshire. II (General volume, including Domesday Book) 1912, reprinted 1974.

  • Victoria County History: Yorkshire. III (Ecclesiastical History; Religious Houses; Political History; Social and Economic History) 1913, reprinted 1974.


  • R. Wood, 'Geometric Patterns in English Romanesque Sculpture', Journal of the British Archeological Association, 154 (2001), 1-39.

The church from the SE
The churchyard and tower from W.
The NW angle of the tower, with N and W buttresses
N buttress and N wall of tower
NW angle of the tower
The base of the tower from SW; porch.
The tower from the W.
NW angle of tower
Earlier views of the church.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SE 889 431 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, East Riding
now: East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval: York
now: York
medieval: All Saints (Lawton 1842, 340)
now: All Saints
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Rita Wood 
Visit Date
26 Apr, 03 May 2005, 04 Dec 2015