All Hallows, Bardsey, Yorkshire, West Riding

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Feature Sets (4)


'Nowhere in the neighbourhood of Leeds can the archaeological growth of a parish church be better studied, with the survivals in situ, in spite of some destruction, from pre-Conquest days to the later middle ages and beyond, than at Bardsey' (Kirk, 1937). The church comprises a W tower of Anglo-Saxon date including belfry level windows; an originally Anglo-Saxon nave with Norman N and S arcades and chancel and tower arches cut into it, and 14thc. N and S aisles and chancel. The 12thc. doorway was reset on the new S wall in the 14thc. and the W end of the narrower Norman aisles are marked by the surviving simple windows adjacent to the tower. According to Kirk, restoration in 1909-1914 uncovered these windows and lowered the nave floor; it probably also accounted for the retooling of various features.

Sculpture is found on the S doorway, on the capitals of the arcades and on various fragments. The fragments have been arranged at the E end of the N aisle, in two groups. Apart from some roughly-tooled or broken voussoir-like chunks seen in 1998, all the pieces still seemed present in 2014.


At the time of the Domesday Survey, Ligulf held land of the king but there is no mention of the church. Faull and Moorhouse say that in 1166 a knight held Bardsey of Roger de Mowbray, and that after a rebellion of 1174/5, it was escheated into the king's hands. Kirk (1937c pl. 1) has a reproduction of an 1851 wash drawing by J. Greig, a view of the church from SW.


Exterior Features


S doorway, S aisle

Round-headed doorway of three orders, built from fine-grained pink and gold sandstone. Kirk suggests that the doorway belonged to the period 1100-1125, along with the N arcade, which would mean that it was reset both when the S arcade was made in the later 12thc. and when the aisle was widened in the 14thc. Two of the fragments inside the church are related to forms on this doorway (nos. 16 and 17).

h. of capitals approx. 0.15 m
h. of capitals incl. ring approx. 0.18 m
h. of opening 2.245 m.
w. of opening 0.99 m
First order

This order is plain and square in the jambs and the arch, without plinth or bases. The impost is chamfered, and the upright has a double groove in the lower half.

Second order

Plain and chamfered plinth; plain plinth. Bases worn but similar to fragment 17 in the S aisle, very upright, collared. The colonettes are of single pieces of stone. L capital and ring integral, very worn but basically double scallop with sunken shields. Impost as first order.

R capital: three scallops on each face, one on corner. The shields are outlined with a low semicircular moulding with a pointed one below near the top of each cone. This pattern is reproduced on the L capital of the third order. R impost renewed.

In the arch, point to point centripetal chevron not boldly sculpted. Fifteen voussoirs. In the spandrels to the face side, each voussoir but the central one has a symmetrical palmette. The stems of the palmettes are to the extrados, except on voussoirs 2, 3, 5 and 14, where they are in the point of the chevron. The palmette is the same on each of these voussoirs, and the four bear some resemblance to patterns of the 1160s (Stillingfleet south doorway, third order). The remainder, with their stems outward, are more variable in design and in an earlier style. The central voussoir has a 'daisy' very like those at Riccall (East Riding) on the label.

Third order:

Base as second order. Colonnette, capital and impost renewed on L, using the pattern which just survives on the R capital of second order. R side, colonnette is probably original. R capital like the L capital of the second order, double scallop with hollow shields. Also very worn. Imposts as before. In the arch, a chamfer, a half-roll and a deeper chamfer on which are 17 beakheads. These are very worn so that, for example, the pitting on their beaks is unlikely to be decorative but rather owing to weathering of the sandstone. Nos. 13 and 14 show detail on the foreheads, with a beaded strap on 13 and nested vees on 14. No label in situ, but see below, Loose Sculpture (i) and (ii).


W windows

The west windows of the 12thc. aisles are similar inside and out. The N window uses larger stones in its N jamb, and the arcuated lintel is more massive, and later incised with two horizontal lines. The outer finish is flush with the wall. Inside the windows have plain splays and two or three steps up from the sill.

Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

Tower, S side

This corbel table is not thought to be Romanesque, but it is included here because it is possible that the two heads reset inside on the S wall of the S aisle might once have been part of such a corbel table but removed when the new set were inserted.

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

One order towards the nave and the chancel, which is plain and square. There are no plinths. The jambs are plain and square, with ashlar on three corners but mixed stone on the S side towards the nave. The imposts have a slight hollow chamfer with a single groove in the upright face. The label matches that of the nave N arcade, that is plain with a chamfer and groove. Towards the chancel the label is bolder and may be a restoration.

Tower/Transept arches

Tower arch

The jambs are plain and square from the floor level upwards, with possible re-use of Anglo-Saxon stones. Otherwise the tower arch is similar to the chancel arch. The imposts run into short lengths of string course; on the N side this meets the first impost on the N arcade, but the S arcade is higher leaving the string course to abut the first column. At the base of the label on both sides of the arch is a sculpted head, but neither is original. The reset heads near the S doorway are not thought to come from here as they are wider blocks of stone.



N arcade

The N arcade has three bays of round-headed arches, dated to 1100-1125 by Kirk. There are traces of crimson colour on E respond and Pier 2. The plinths are deep, plain and chamfered. The bases have a convex and concave moulding separated by a slight ledge. All the capitals have heavy, flattened roll necking.

East respond: a round half-column. The capital has four scallops to W face and two to the side, with tucked darts. The decoration, using a similar pattern, continues on the return towards the E.

Pier 1: chamfered plinth; upper plinth worn off on corners. Capital square and the same on each side, except that the side to the nave has been renewed. Four bold scallops to each face with short cylinders in the gaps between the cones. Similar pattern seen on small capital in Durham castle gallery.

Pier 2: plinth and base as before. Capital square, the same on each face. Heavy plain volutes, two scallops on each face, forming four shields in the upper part of the capital. Simple darts.

W respond: similar form to Pier 2, tucked darts. As on E respond, the decoration continues to the nave W wall. In the arches throughout the arcade, to the nave, plain, voussoirs unequal in size. Label chamfered, grooved and plain. In the arch to the aisle, one order plain and flush.

S arcade

These three bays are dated to 1175-1200 by Kirk, although Ryder thinks the 'south arcade here cannot date from long after 1150'. The S arcade has taller columns than the N arcade and pointed arches. All the plinths are deep and plain, and all the bases have a double roll. The neckings, capitals and imposts are integral throughout, and the imposts have a double groove near their base.

E respond: a round half column. The necking is plain and rounded. The capital may be renewed and has volutes of leaf-like straps curled over billets. This decoration is used on Pier 2 and also at Bilton-in-Ainsty. The pattern continues towards the E; it is recut on the N face of the respond but appears original on the S. Ryder describes the returns of the abacus as having 'sunk 'harp'-shaped ornament (triangles with their lower angles rounded), which has parallels in some pre-Conquest decoration. The piers are still heavy and rounded.'

Pier 1:The capital is square, with a simple necking, shallow capital with a 'broken' hollow chamfer.

Pier 2: similar in form to Pier 1, but the capital has volutes as on the E respond, though rather more tentative.

W Respond:the capital is similar in form to Pier 1. Its decoration continues towards the W but is defaced.

Although the arches are pointed, their form is like all the other 12thc. arches inside the church.

Interior Decoration


Re-set fragments

There are two heads reset in the S wall of the nave, either side of the S doorway. If they ever were 12thc., they have been recut. They appear to have been corbels, are not deeply carved and have been subject to wear. They are men's heads with an expressionless gaze. The head to the right (W) of the door is perhaps wearing a hood. The heads project from the block, which extends either side to about 0.3m in one case. This extension would probably preclude their having been originally label stop heads on the tower arch, where there are now two 19thc. heads.

h. 0.185-0.2 m.

Loose Sculpture

Column base

This base matches that on the L of the S doorway.


ht. 0.195m
Max. horizontal dimension 0.34m

Font fragments

Kirk dates these fragments to c.1150 and compares them to a font once in Nostell Priory, illustrated in 'Assoc. Archl. Papers, 185, 4-6, 253' (reference not located). The stone is a fine-grained sandstone of a rich almost raspberry-pink colour, whereas most of the church is in gold or light pink tones. The neatly carved pattern of a beaded interlaced arcade is surmounted by cable moulding.

Incomplete cross-head

This fragment is incised with a compass-drawn cross and circle.

Label fragments

There are two slightly curved label fragments, with a row of sawtooth on the face and cylindrical billet ornament on the chamfer

Miscellaneous, fossil.

A dark grey roughly cylindrical piece with many pittings. For more details see Kirk. It may be a fossil, a Carboniferous root.

Miscellaneous: small stoup, broken.

These pieces fit together to make most of a small stoup or mortar with a pouring lip.

Part of a grave slab with an incised cross.

Date unknown.

Voussoirs, roughly-tooled or broken.

These roughly-tooled voussoirs were not seen in 2014.

Voussoirs with foliage

Two voussoirs have foliate decoration. On both pieces the foliage is a short piece in the spandrel of a chevron pattern, so resembles work found on the S doorway.

One has a foliate sprig with long leaves arranged along a stem and is in much better condition than the other. The more worn one is illustrated from 1998 with the column base, Feature 18, and in 2014 with the font fragments, Feature 10.

Voussoir, with column base.

This piece has incised chevron-like pattern, almost like heavy tooling, on two faces and a foliate pattern on one face. It matches carving found on the S doorway but no original voussoirs appear to be missing from that doorway. 


Peter Ryder (1991, 12, nos. 2-6) identifies five fragments of grave slabs which are or could be of the 12thc. Of these, nos. 2, 3 and 4 feature in the assemblages in the W aisle; no. 5 is reused as "the inner lintel of the 'low-side' window on the north side of the chancel" and no. 6 is the "slab forming the threshold of the south door."

It is unusually harmonious that all the various arches of the 12thc. openings in the nave, including the pointed arches of the S arcade, have the same form: plain first order, and simple hoodmould.


  • M. L. Faull and S.A. Moorhouse, eds., West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey to 1500, Wakefield, 1981.

  • G. E. Kirk, All Hallows Church, Bardsey, Leeds, 1937.

  • N. Pevsner and E. Radcliffe, The Buildings of England. Yorkshire: West Riding, Harmondsworth, 1967, 89f.

  • P. Ryder, Medieval Churches of West Yorkshire, Wakefield, 1993, 31, 139, figs 22, 48, 57 and 153.

  • P. Ryder, Medieval Cross Slab Grave Covers in West Yorkshire, Wakefield, 1991.

  • West Yorkshire Archaeological Service leaflet, 1987.

The W wall and tower from the NW.
The church from the NE.
The church from the village street, NE.
Assemblage of loose sculpture, L.
Assemblage of loose sculpture, L.
Assemblage of loose sculpture, R.
Assemblage of loose sculpture: two font fragments and a voussoir.
The site of Norman earthworks up the hill from the church.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SE 366 431 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, West Riding
now: West Yorkshire
medieval: York
formerly: Ripon and Leeds
now: West Yorkshire and the Dales
medieval: not confirmed
now: All Hallows
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Barbara English, Rita Wood 
Visit Date
19 Mar 1998; 09 Apr 2014