St Mary, Gisburn, Yorkshire, West Riding

Download as PDF

Feature Sets (3)


The village of Gisburn lies between Skipton and Clitheroe on the A59. The church has the long low profile, typical of many in this north-western part of the Riding; it has a W tower and continuous aisles of four bays. The chancel and its aisles are separated from the nave by a wall with three pointed chamfered arches resting on a pair of heavy circular piers (Pevsner 1967, 218; Leach and Pevsner 2009, 277). The origin of the cylindrical piers is uncertain, but the lower parts of the W tower and at least three windows and the plain tower arch are certainly of the Romanesque period.


In Domesday Book in the summary of ‘Cravescire’ (Craven) William de Percy and Roger the Poitevin both hold 2 carucates in Gisburn. (VCH ii, 307n)


Exterior Features


W tower, slit windows

Of the Romanesque period only slit windows remain in the tower. There are traces of larger openings in the chancel.

W tower, windows

Three openings in the tower, on the S face at first stage, and in the N face at first and next upper stages; these are simple round-headed slit windows with one-piece window-heads. 

Windows of chancel

Traces of two former round-headed window splays lighting the E end of the chancel can be seen in the interior N walls of the chancel and S chapel.

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Pier 2 of N and S continuous arcades

The base of the S pier has a broad chamfer; the base of the N pier is hidden in the floor. The piers are squat and cylindrical; the chancel arch is pointed and chamfered. The piers receive arches of the arcades, of the aisle and of the chancel. All the arches are chamfered and pointed, and of two orders.

At present, the functional division between nave and chancel is in the bay to the E, where there is a wooden screen.

Tower/Transept arches

Tower arch

A plain round-headed arch of one order. The jambs are plain and square; the imposts, on N and S faces only, are chamfered and plain. 


Pevsner (1967, 218-19) says the chancel arch and the W chancel chapels that rest on unusually strong short circular piers seem 13thc. Leach (2009, 277) suggests that these stout piers might be a contrivance to accommodate the different widths of the nave and chancel


  • P. Leach and N. Pevsner, Yorkshire West Riding: Leeds, Bradford and the North, New Haven and London, 2009.

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

  • Victoria County History: County of York, vol. II, London, 1912 (reprinted 1974).


The church from the SE
View W from gate of churchyard
The town and the A59.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SD 830 488 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, West Riding
now: West Yorkshire
medieval: York
formerly: Bradford
now: West Yorkshire and the Dales
medieval: St Mary (Lawton 1842, 254)
now: St Mary
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Rita Wood 
Visit Date
19 July 2010