St Andrew, Weaverthorpe, Yorkshire, East Riding

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Feature Sets (5)


The church stands high on the N side of the Great Wold Valley and above the main W-E section of the course of the Gypsey Race stream before it turns at Burton Fleming and Rudston. To the immediate E of the church is the site of an early medieval manor house, which has been excavated (Brewster, 1972; Norton, 2006, fig. 11). 

The church, with its W tower, nave and chancel, largely retains its Norman form (Bilson, 1922, 52), although elements were restored in 1870-72 by G. E. Street. It was faced with well-cut coursed ashlar blocks in the Norman technique (Norton, 2006, 55).

There are three doorways with tympana: one in the chancel and two opposite each other in the nave. One of the stones that forms the  tympanum over the S doorway is an inscribed sun-dial with an inscription, which means that this church can be dated to c.1109-c.1118. Sculptural embellishment of the building is otherwise almost non-existent, apart from the capitals of the belfry windows and an unusual impost profile on the chancel and tower arches; there are no corbels. The cylindrical font is patterned.


Domesday Book records a manor of 18 carucates, which, with its berewicks, had 26 carucates. Previously held by Archbishop Eldred of York and having a value of £14, Archbishop Thomas II held it in 1086 when it was 'waste' (VCH, II, 212). 

Herbert the Chamberlain (chamberlain to King Henry I), named on the inscription as Herbert of Winchester, was granted the main Yorkshire estates centred on Weaverthorpe and Londesborough by Archbishop Thomas II of York in 1108-09; Herbert's son William fitzHerbert (later Archbishop) was appointed to the office of treasurer of York Minster and archdeacon of the East Riding at about the same time (Norton, 2006, 11-16). Herbert granted Weaverthorpe church to his son William, who gave it in turn to Nostell Priory, probably in spring 1121 (Norton, 2006, 43-45).

The inscription describes the church as a ‘monasterium’, a minster church. Eight local churches mostly in the Great Wold Valley were subject to Weaverthorpe (Norton, 2006, fig. 2). Of these, only West Lutton and Cowlam have any 12thc remains today. 



Exterior Features


Chancel S doorway

The jambs have a slight chamfer that was probably cut later. The lintel seems to have formed a substantial part of a semicircular tympanum

Height of opening 1.695m
Thickness of lintel 0.13m
Width of opening 0.61m

Nave N doorway

Similar to the S doorway, with a slightly recessed tympanum, but a larger lintel than that on the S doorway.

Height of opening 2.11m
Width of lintel approx. 2.11m
Width of opening 1.137m

Nave S doorway

Square-headed doorway with plain jambs; lintel; slightly recessed tympanum formed of more than one piece of stone; and one order of plain voussoirs flush with the wall. The tympanum includes a sundial stone with an incised inscription. The porch roof was raised in the restoration (Bilson, 1922, 55-6): marks of the medieval porch roof may be seen across the face of the tympanum and the arch.

James Bayly told John Bilson that a beam of the 14thc porch roof had been let into the tympanum, causing the loss of the beginning of the inscription. Norton (2006, 53) gives the surviving four lines of text as: 





This is translated as ‘In honour of St Andrew the Apostle Herbert of Winchester built this minster in the time of ki…’

According to Bilson, following Collingwood, the stone measures 14” x 12 ½” (Bilson, 1922, 58-59), using the diagram from Collingwood (1911a, 275-76). This measurement is given in metric below. 

Height of opening 2.035m
stone with inscription 0.355m x 0.317m
Width of lintel approx. 1.51m
Width of opening 1.145m


Windows in the W tower and Nave

Belfry windows

A two-light belfry window on each face of the upper part of the W tower between the two stringcourses. 

Bilson (1922, 57) points out that the S belfry window has recessed jambs and two orders, whereas the other three have jambs and only one order. All four openings have ‘curious plain projecting corbels under the outer arch.’

 S belfry window:

1st order. Plain jambs. Central pillar recessed and base not visible from below. A cushion capital delneated with a single-scallop to the pillar. Impost plain and chamfered with quirk near the angle. A plain arch with two or three voussoirs to each opening and a springer separating them. In the filling above this is a plain horizontal corbel supporting the main arch.

2nd order. Plain jambs; impost as before continues onto outer face. Arch of plain voussoirs over the two openings, flush with walling.

E, N, W windows as for 1st order of S window. Base to pillars seem to be a plain broad torus.

Nave windows

Bilson (1922, 55) identifies two original windows in both N and S walls of the nave. These are plain and flush with the general surface. Illustrated with N doorway.

Slit windows in tower

There is one slit window in the W wall of the tower; there are slits in the turret with the spiral staircase.

Exterior Decoration

String courses

String courses on tower

Two plain and square, or slightly chamfered, stringcourses on the tower, running under the belfry windows and just below the parapet. 


Carved stone in W face of tower

This chip-carved piece is placed in the tower wall. The star pattern is in two rows of five star-in-square units in the lower half of the block. It is the only example here with this pattern.

Fragment of an altar table

A rectangular slab of white freestone built into the exterior of the E wall, perhaps the fragment of an altar table. 

Height of slab as set 0.285m
Incised cross approx. 0.06m high by 0.055m wide
Width of slab 0.79m

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

Two similar orders; plain with square jambs; no capitals; 'simple imposts moulded on their lower edge with a large quirked roll which [in the second order] is not returned on the east and west faces’ (Bilson 1922, 52); arch plain and square. The impost has been renewed on the L side, but is original on the S, and is similar to that as used on the tower arch. Bilson implies that the W face of the impost of the 1st order is plain, but it has a muted development of the same profile as the N and S.

Height to top of impost 2.36m
Width of opening 3.5m

Tower/Transept arches

Tower arch

A tall round-headed arch of one order similar to the chancel arch: plain and square in jambs and arch; an impost with a roll below and a quirked upright. This seems to have continued on the W wall of the nave, but is worn or reduced there. Bilson (1922, 56) gives the height of the opening from floor to springing as 14ft 9½ins (converted to metric below).

Height from floor to springing approx. 4.5m
Width of opening 2.17m



Font in SW corner of nave

A cylindrical font with patterns covering the sides and rim; it stands on a modern moulded plinth. There is some damage, repaired on the NE side but left rough on the SW. The pattern appears to be based on a grid with alternating small circles and larger octagons, with five rows of motifs running round the cylinder. For approximately three-quarters of the circumference the octagons have saltire crosses carved within them; where the octagons were left plain and sunken, the effect is reminiscent of 17thc strapwork. The circles were developed into low domes. The horizontal rim has a shallow rebate for the lead lining; outside this is a series of a dozen or so flat scallops or lunettes now somewhat worn.  


Depth of interior of bowl 0.255m
External diameter of bowl 0.71m
Height of font cylinder 0.59m
Internal diameter of bowl 0.56m

Loose Sculpture

Loose stones in nave

Bayly (1894, 1) describes and illustrates three loose carved stones in the ‘ringing chamber’. At the time of the visit five loose stones had been placed near the lectern in the SE corner of the nave. Only one of these, probably a headstone from a grave, was angled so as to show any carving: round-headed it has has an inscribed circle containing a saltire cross formed by cutting away four narrow lenticular areas.


Height 0.26m
Thickness 0.1m
Width 0.23m


The church was restored for Tatton Sykes II in 1870-1872 by G. E. Street (Bayly 1894, 1-8, plan pl. 1; Bilson 1922, plan p. 53; Pevsner and Neave 1995, 738-39). According to Bayly (1894), the walls on the N side of the nave and chancel were rebuilt under Street, having been affected by soil creep; the stones were numbered and replaced. Bilson says ‘the original roofs of the nave and chancel had been lowered, and the existing roofs date from the restoration by G. E. Street in 1871-2’; he states that the walls are about 21 feet high (6.4m) above the nave floor, and the windows start at about 9 feet (2.74m).

Although plain, the walls were probably painted, and the church was well-fitted: Bilson identifies two alcoves in the N and S walls of the chancel at the E end as 12thc aumbry cupboards; Morris (1919, 322-23) notes on W face of chancel arch on the N side, a tall plain niche, presumably for a light, but it may be later. Above the tower arch is a rectangular opening, intermediate in size between the S chancel doorway and the nave doorways. A slight horizontal recess, best seen on the W wall, marks the level of the earlier flat ceiling over the nave, and correspondingly a floor to a space above, which would have been entered by the doorway. Newbald church, perhaps begun a little later than Weaverthorpe, similarly made use of upper spaces over the transepts and crossing.

Bilson (1922, 54) describes the stone used for the building as a ‘calcareous grit’, and thinks that it was ‘undoubtedly from Filey Brig.’ He cites early charters which allowed access to quarries there (Mon. Ang. vi, 288, charter no. 14). Following a fieldwork visit with Dr Martyn Pedley in 2004, the stone used for the ashlar on the exterior S wall of the nave was identified by a zone fossil as being from the Cardioceras cordatum zone of the Birdsall Calcareous Grit, which is part of the Coralline Oolite in the Jurassic. The Birdsall Calcareous Grit presently outcrops in the area around Birdsall to Malton and at Filey Brigg (Pedley, 2004; Rayner and Hemingway, 1974, 162, 214-15). On the visit in August 2007 some stonework was being replaced, and one empty socket showed chalk used in the filling, although the mortar inside is probably recent. The stone used for the font was probably different.

Bilson (1922, 56) compares the tower at Weaverthorpe with the towers at Kirby Grindalythe and Wharram-le-Street. Indications of surviving pre-Conquest traditions are seen in the thin ashlar-faced walls, only 2’4” or 0.71m (Bilson, 1922, 54); the absence of pilaster buttresses; the tall proportions of the unbuttressed tower (contrasted with Garton-on-the-Wolds); and the sun-dial over the door, a survival of a local tradition, as seen at Great Edstone and Kirkdale (Bilson 1922, 57; Collingwood 1907, 275, 344).

Norton compares the churches of Wharram le Street and St Rule’s, St Andrew's to Weaverthorpe (2006, 64-6).

Inscription: John Bilson’s discussion of the inscription and the history behind it (1922, 59-70) has been superceded by a more detailed examination by Christopher Norton, which allows the building to be dated to between c. 1109, when the grant was made by the archbishop to Herbert, and Herbert’s disgrace in 1118 (2006, 54); Norton suggests Herbert died not long after this.

Font:  Bilson describes this: ‘as usual, the last thing made for the new church’ (Bilson 1922, 57). He also says this of Newbald, where the church was not built in one campaign and the font almost certainly belongs to the later period. Weaverthorpe font comes from a workshop that used pattern, and it was probably not the work of the masons who made the building: given the contrast in style, the font may not have been part of the original fittings for the building. Perhaps it was installed or recarved when the Augustinians received the church in 1121. It strongly resembles the font at Rudston, where all the patterns are otherwise uniquely found; it seems very probable that the two fonts are contemporary. Rudston font appears more competent, so perhaps the font at Weaverthorpe was a copy or an apprentice piece.

Slab set in the exterior of the E wall: noted by Collingwood as part of the shaft of a cross (1911a, 276), it has been specifically excluded from the Anglo-Saxon Corpus (Lang 1991, 230).  Compare the form of incised cross with ends drilled at Conisbrough (YW), altar slab in N aisle, and individual crosses inscribed elsewhere, eg. Newbald (YE), R shafts of S nave doorway.



  • J. Bayly, Four Churches in the Deanery of Buckrose restored or built by the late George Edmund Street, RA, for Sir Tatton Sykes, Bart, London, 1894.

  • J. Bilson, 'Weaverthorpe church and its builder', Archaeologia 72 (1922) 51-70.

  • T. C. M. Brewster, 'An Excavation at Weaverthorpe Manor, East Riding, 1960', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 44 (1972) 114-133.

  • W. G. Collingwood, ‘Anglian and Anglo-Danish Sculpture in the East Riding, with addenda to the North Riding’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 21 (1911) 254-302. 

  • W. G. Collingwood, 'Anglian and Anglo-Danish Sculpture in the North Riding of Yorkshire', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 19 (1907) 266-413.

  • J. T. Lang et al., York and Eastern Yorkshire. Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, III. Oxford, 1991.

  • J. E. Morris, The East Riding of Yorkshire, London, 1919. 

  • C. Norton, St William of York, Woodbridge, 2006.

  • M. Pedley, Brief report on the building stone and font stone in Early Norman Churches of East Yorkshire, Typescript, 2004. 

  • N. Pevsner and D. Neave, Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, London, 1995.

  • D. H. Rayner and J. E. Hemingway, The Geology and Mineral Resources of Yorkshire, Leeds, 1974.

  • Victoria County History:Yorkshire, II (General volume), London, 1912; reprinted 1974.

The church from the valley, SW.
The church from the entrance gate
Repair in wall, 2007.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SE 967 711 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, East Riding
now: North Yorkshire
medieval: York
now: York
now: St Andrew
medieval: All Saints (Lawton 1842, 371) and St Andrew (c. 1120, as inscription )
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Rita Wood 
Visit Date
23 August 2007