All Saints, Halsham, Yorkshire, East Riding

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Feature Sets (5)


This is a scattered parish; the church is in West Halsham, the typically long, thin Anglian settlement. Pevsner & Neave (1995, 448) mention the ‘prominent earthworks marking the site of [the early medieval] manor house’ but these were not so noticeable when we were there, perhaps because of crops. The church is large, medieval, aisled and has a W tower. It is of ashlar, boulders, rubble and brick: the building history is complex. The church was restored 1869-71 by Ewan Christian (VCH V, 38).

There are the remains of a stone seat on the S side of the chancel, which may be eleventh century, alongside the Decorated sedilia and piscina. The N wall of the nave shows traces of the aisleless Norman church: seen from the N aisle are part of a shafted window opening, some corbels and string course on the formerly outside face of the wall. The N arcade is late twelfth century.  


Halsham was part of an estate centred in Patrington which had been granted by King Cnut to the Archbishop in 1033; 7 carucates or so were held in 1086 as a berewick of the archbishop’s manor in Patrington. By the mid thirteenth century most of the Archbishop’s estate had been granted to the Forz family or its predecessors as counts of Aumale. The Constable family (founder, Ulbert, the constable under William le Gros, count of Aumale) had an estate in Halsham by the late 12th c., when Robert Constable mortgaged the vill. Drew de Bevrere also had a small estate. Some land was given to Thornton Abbey by Robert Constable by 1190 (VCH V, 32).

There is no mention of the church until 1207, when the advowson was in dispute between Robert Constable and St John’s college, Beverley. It had been given to the college by Robert Constable's uncle, and the canons won the dispute (VCH V, 37).


Exterior Features


Part of window, now enclosed by N aisle

[Illustrated under Features: 'corbels' and 'N arcade'.]

The outside face is seen from N aisle; the upper left quarter only of the window remains. It has been left open to the nave, showing the internal splay. On the exterior, or N side, the window must formerly have extended down to the string course.

Shafted window opening of two orders. First order plain with a small chamfer at the window. This plain order is found in elaborate churches, such as Kirkburn and Birkin. Second order, detached colonette missing; plain ring broken; scalloped capital with three shallow cones on each face and smaller inverted cones between. In the arch, a roll moulding on the angle; an equally wide hollow on the face, finishes flush with the wall; plain in the soffit.

Exterior Decoration

String courses

String course, now enclosed by N aisle

[Illustrated under Features: 'corbels'.]

This is the wide plain string course, horizontal above and chamfered below, similar to those at Lockington and other churches including Kirkburn. It remains in two lengths on the former exterior N wall, near the E and near the W ends. 

Corbel tables, corbels

Corbels, now enclosed by N aisle

There are four at the E end of the wall, and one at the extreme W end of the same wall. From the way that corbel NN4 is awkwardly placed over the remains of the window, it seems that the corbels have been reset below their original level. Two pairs of small plain corbels at a lower level on N and S walls of the aisle refer to a flat ceiling which once covered the aisle.

NN1  Only a thin vertical section of this corbel remains. It seems to have been a slice of a roll moulding.

NN2  A man’s head: the angle is too steep to read the expression. There seems to be a moustache.

NN3  The head of an imaginary beast with the tip of its tongue showing and two pig-like nostrils; there is no muzzle. It has two pointed ears, and between them, inverted, is a man’s face. 

NN4  A human head whose hair can be seen at the sides in two curls. The mouth is gaping, showing the teeth. A feminine-looking head.

There is a gap between these corbels and one at the W end of the aisle.

NN5  A beast’s head similar in form to NN3, but the mouth seems to be shut and there is no face on the forehead.

Interior Features



N arcade

Arcade of two bays.  

Bases have a square plinth sunk in a boarded floor, and then two circular plinths upright and chamfered; above that a hollow and a roll with a medial quirk. Pillar and responds are circular; capitals have a narrow but prominent ring, wide concave chamfer and plain upright; less heavy impost with chamfer and upright; a quirk near the bottom of the upright. Pointed arches plain and square of one order each side.

width of impost of Pier 1 0.86m


Stone seat


There is a flat stone seat on a plain base. The seat is cut away at an angle on its E side; the angled part is new, and chamfered below like the W part. Behind the seat on the S wall of the chancel is a recess with a pointed head but no mouldings. To the W of the seat is an arm rest, a upright slab curved down and up again at the outer corner, with a rounded end, as if for the left hand.


Arm projects from wall 0.36m
Height of arm of seat above floor 0.63m

Loose Sculpture

Parts of altar slabs.

Morris mentions fragments of one or more altar slabs, one piece being in the S aisle and one under the tower and both with crosses on them. (Morris 1919, 174).


N arcade

Morris calls the arcade Transitional; VCH calls it late twelfth century; Pevsner & Neave say c. 1180. The arches are not quite the usual Gothic curve but perhaps Burgundian, that characteristic and their plainness are reminiscent of Fontenay and, locally, Burton Agnes.

 Old stone seat

Morris identifies without comment a ‘stone seat’ between a later medieval sedilia and the priest’s doorway in the S wall of the chancel (Morris 1919, 173-4); VCH calls it 12th century. Pevsner & Neave (1995, 448) suggest an 11th century date is possible: 'on the S side [of the chancel] the arms of a stone sedile of the most ancient form, possibly C11. It is cut into by the most spectaclar feature of the church, the Dec sedilia and piscina...'

The so-called sanctuary seat in Beverley Minster has a fairly similar structure. The Beverley seat is included in the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture although it is not given a date; the seat at Halsham is not included or mentioned.

The successive seats here probably relate to lengthening of the chancel, as suggested by Pevsner & Neave.


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Victoria County History: East Riding of Yorkshire, V (Holderness Wapentake, south and middle, parts), 1984.


General view.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TA 268 278 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, East Riding
now: East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval: York
now: York
medieval: All Saints (1402; Lawton 1842, 382)
now: All Saints
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Rita Wood 
Visit Date
15 Aug 2005