This imposing twelfth-century church stands at the top of a rise just south of the village, a windy spot. It consists of a massive W tower, a normal-sized nave and chancel, with a nineteenth-century vestry. It is basically of the twelfth century, but it was restored and given a new chancel in 1856 by J. L. Pearson. The top of the tower is fifteenth-century. The medieval chancel is said to have fallen down in 1714 (VCH II, 221): at the Borthwick Institute, a catalogue entry summarises years of neglect with: ‘100 years without a vicar; no cup’.
Pevsner & Neave 1995, 434, say that J. L. Pearson rebuilt the chancel on the old foundations using some original features; among these are likely to be some of the corbels on the N side and the single window in the E gable. The chancel arch appears to be entirely new. The N wall of the nave was rebuilt and most of its corbels retained; the S doorway is largely new. The W doorway, though original, is deteriorating; the sculptural panel above it is mostly erased. The tower is buttressed, in contrast to Wharram-le-Street, but like Kirkburn and Kilham. The nave has pilasters, as for Newbald, Fangfoss and Kirkburn, etc. The solidity and position of the church recall Weaverthorpe.
The church is visited for its rich Victorian interior, especially since the wall-paintings by Clayton and Bell have been restored as a memorial to Nikolaus Pevsner. However, there is much of interest for this Corpus, particularly the W façade and the corbels in the nave. There is an internal doorway to the tower stair, and the jambs of a tower arch, which was tall even before being heightened later.
In 1086, the various estates all seem to have been ‘waste’. Landholders in Garton included the count of Mortain and the Archbishops of York and Durham; in the summary, the Archbishop of York held 9 carucates and the Count of Mortain 17 or 25 carucates. By the 1130s, Mortain’s lands were probably held by Walter Espec, to be inherited in 1157-8 by Robert Ros.
There was a church here in 1086, listed in the lands of the Count of Mortain (VCH II, 226). Walter Espec gave it, together with a carucate of land called ‘St. Michael’s flat’, to Kirkham Priory which he had founded c. 1122 on the advice of his uncle, William Espec, rector of Garton then a canon of Nostell (VCH II, 220-1; Burton 1995, 2). This gift may have been made as late as 1133-39. William Espec became the first prior of Kirkham. It seems likely that the church was built following the gift to the priory (Pevsner and Neave 1995, 432). The church at Garton is described as a minster in the foundation document of Kirkham Priory: having a more than local importance may account for its monumentality and spaciousness.
|approx. height of opening||3.16m|
|width of opening||1.8m|
The capitals throughout resemble those of the W doorway, but are not so high.
The impost throughout has a pattern not seen elsewhere, but on the E face is an original stone to vouch for it. It is based perhaps on repeated pairs of simple leaves set diagonally, which when meeting/confronted form a four-sided motif with a central vertically-set cross. This pattern somewhat resembles the pattern used on the string-course between the window and the sculptural panel on the W facade, but is more elaborate.
In the arch, there is chevron frontal to the soffit near the angle, and in the centre of the soffit is a hollow row. On the face are rows of steps parallel to the chevron moulding, these are centrifugal.
As for orders 1 and 2, though perhaps a little heavier or stronger.
The label is chamfered, and plain on the face; the three patterns used are grander versions of those on the label of the W doorway. It is difficult to be certain that there is anything really old in the present label despite the discolouration and decay of some of it: one or two stones have lost almost all their billets, while the small arches at the outer edge of the same stone are very sharp, and so regular as to suggest machining.
The unusual feature here is the shafting on the angles, both above and below the level of the impost. Below the impost, the shafts are the same dimensions as the shafts of the orders of the doorway itself, and the dimensions are similar above. The shorter upper shafts end just below the sloping roof of the pediment. No original stone is included.
|approx. height of impost block||0.14m|
|height of capital and ring||0.3m|
|height of opening||2.78m|
|width of opening||1.3m|
The bases throughout are very worn, but approximate to a plain plinth with medium-to-shallow base. The first order has a half column. There are plain rings throughout. There is a large single scallop capital on both L and R. The impost throughout is chamfered (with perhaps the slightest of hollows); just above the angle is a rounded moulding between two quirks. Above that on the upright is a row of chip-carved saltire star pattern. This impost continues beyond the doorway as a string-course and ends at the pilaster on either side.
This consists of bases, free-standing shafts (now lost), and capitals and imposts that are similar to those for the second, third and fourth orders. Rings are plain; the capitals are unemphatic shallow double scallop with small knobs for volutes, the shields cut back at the curve just enough to catch the light. The impost is as for the first order. In the arch, the profile is not distinctly right-angled as the soffit and face, but the soffit is rounded or angled so that the chevrons spread continuously from soffit onto face.There is a row of centripetal chevron on the angle, one step to the inside and two to the outside of the row.
In the arch, the sharpness of the angle of the profile is softened again, but angled or chamfered rather than rounded. There are two rows of chevron, with plain spandrels to the second order, two steps between the rows and one step outside.
Modern work has replaced about one third of the arc. The profile is chamfered and plain. On the chamfer against the fourth order there is a double row of billet; on the plain surface there is a row of chip-carved star-in-square, and on the outside is a series of little sunken arcs in pace with the stars.
On the E wall, the three windows are restoration; only one window on this wall may be original, that at the top centre of the gable. This is of one order, flush with the wall; it has a narrow chamfer, and in the arch on the face an inner border of sunken triangles, or dentation.
The two small blank oculi flanking that window have no known parallel in the Riding and no authenticating detail or fragment is incorporated, but a vesica window at Askham Bryan (YW) has similar knobs on the chamfer. The central window seems genuine and is probably reset from the original chancel, as it has a patterned windowhead (in contrast to the original nave windows).
A triplet of windows occurs quite commonly on a chancel E wall, old or new. Pearson may have had evidence here, or perhaps Bishop Wilton was in his mind; when he restored that church in 1858-9, there were traces of the two flanking windows though the central one had been lost. The present appearance of the oculi is rather heavy and probably largely due to being a Victorian restoration.
These are plain tall round-headed windows, on the S and (rebuilt) N wall. They are flush with the wall surface and have a narrow chamfer. There is no string-course at their sills.
These are narrow slits, except for ones on the N and S sides of the tower which are as wide as the nave windows but not so tall. All are plain and flush with the wall surface.
The window of two orders and hoodmould stands on the star-patterned string-course. The first order is plain in jambs, with no capital or impost but the semicircular head has a row of centrifugal chevron, with two steps outside it and one inside. The second order has a plain plinth, renewed on the L; the bases are similar to the doorway below. The shaft is free-standing, with a plain ring and a capital with two spiral volutes on the W face, see Comments/Opinions. The impost is integral, plain and flush with the volutes and wall surface. The impost projects in the usual way on the internal faces of the capitals. In the arch, it is plain in the soffit; on the face, a row of centrifugal chevron with two steps outside it. The spandrel at the angle has two canted sections. The label is plain and chamfered on both sides. It continues as a string-course round the pilasters and onto the other walls of the tower.
|height to lintel||1.75m|
|width of opening||0.61m|
|width of opening at ground level||3.1m|
J. Burton, Kirkham Priory from Foundation to Dissolution. York 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.
J. E. Morris, The East Riding of Yorkshire. 2nd ed. London 1919.
N. Pevsner & D. Neave, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd ed. London 1995.
D. Stocker and P. Everson, Summoning St Michael: early Romanesque towers in Lincolnshire. Oxford 2006.
Thelwell Collection: ‘Photographs of East Riding churches’, 4 vols (2, 5, 6, 7). Bridlington Public Library. [Archive of original prints of photographs]
Victoria County History: East Riding of Yorkshire. II (Dickering Wapentake). 1974.
R. Wood, 'The Augustinians and the Romanesque font from Everingham, East Riding', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 83 (2011), 112-47.
R. Wood, 'The Augustinians and the Romanesque Sculpture at Kirkburn Church', East Yorkshire Historian 4 (2003a), 3-59.