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St Leonard, Thrybergh, Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°27′15″N, 1°17′53″W)
SK 467 955
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now South Yorkshire
medieval York
now Sheffield
  • Barbara English
  • Rita Wood
18 August 2011

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St Leonard is located at the north end of the village, on the edge of a county house estate, Thrybergh Park. The church is partly ashlar, partly rough stone. The nave was built between 11thc-12thc (Pevsner 1967, 516-7); traces of herringbone work are visible at the W end of the N wall of the chancel (Ryder 1982, 98). The chancel is of 14thc, and the W tower with a spire, lying in a wooded churchyard, was built during the 15thc. The church was restored in 1871 and 1894, and by 1970 a vestry block was added. Romanesque sculptural remains consist of a blocked doorway on N side of nave, a stringcourse near the doorway, a former chancel arch, and a stone shaft set close to the churchyard wall.


Thrybergh is recorded in Domesday Book but no church is mentioned. It was held by Northmannin in 1066, then by Roscelin of Fulstow in 1086, who passed it to William of Percy. Peter, priest of Thrybergh, witnessed a charter before c.1170-1182 (EYC I no. 814). During the 13thc the advowson was in possession of the family of Normanville, who held the manor from the Percy fee. The living remained in lay hands, and no monastic connections have been found (Thompson and Clay 1943, 82). Sir Adam Reresby became Lord of Thrybergh in 1316.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

String courses


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

There is no evidence that the Thrybergh churchyard stone was a ‘cross’ shaft, that is, supporting a cross: the shaft in Barnburgh church has a cross carved on the E face of the shaft itself and could have terminated in a low pyramid carved with foliage, that is, the whole monument may be present there, though worn; it was of two stone blocks, with an overall height of over 2m (there is some loss of height at the joint). Strong similarities with the example seen at Barnburgh concern the stone used; the patterns of foliage within a guilloche outline; the patterns of interlace with domes; the figures of a priestly type. However, the work on the Thrybergh example is less regulated, for instance, on the S face. The St Leonard’s shaft seems to retain the lower part of the monument, as the figure is bounded by the horizontal ‘sill’ of the niche, while the foliage introduced at the bottom of the circles pattern on the N face is comparable to the presence of foliage at the bottom of all four faces of the Barnburgh shaft, including the interlace pattern there. The pattern on the N face, of circles and interlaced guilloche, is used fairly often in Romanesque work (e.g., St Margaret’s at Cliffe, Kent) and may not depend on a local pre-Conquest tradition. The various foliage patterns use forms typical of the 1150s and 1160s in Yorkshire. The use of the standing stone to display these patterns may have been taken on into post-Conquest times. The thumbs of the figure in the niche are unusually prominent, as are the splayed feet of the upper figure. In comparison, hands and feet on the Barnburgh shaft are smaller. The E face of the Thrybergh shaft has a tree form, which can refer to the Resurrection and is a possible equivalent to the Cross; the W face has a perhaps tonsured half-figure, who may hold a document or book. These features suggest some religious context or connection for the shaft, and again hint that a cross did not terminate the piece.

Collingwood (1915, 249-50) saw the shaft now in the corner of the church yard ‘on an old base’, the angles ‘chamfered and billeted asymetrically’. The chamfer is currently only on the S face, but he records a definite chamfer on both sides, billets on the L and irregular billets on the R side, one with foliage. His illustration shows far more detail than exists at present: e.g., it supports the idea of stems only on the E face of the cross, with no horizontal bar or band. His drawing of the W face does not improve on what can be seen now. He briefly describes, but does not illustrate, the Village Green cross located in Three Hills Close at Thrybergh (see separate report).

Pevsner (1959, 1967, 517) considers the shaft as an Anglo-Saxon piece re-carved in the late 12thc. Also Ryder (1982, 98, 120-21) identifies some pre- and post-Conquest motifs. 'Backward-looking elements’ have also been noted by Coatsworth (2008, 286, 289), such as the crossing scroll and the ring twist, and perhaps the half figure within a panel.

Morris (1919, 506) cites Hunter (1831, 38) for an engraving of both St Leonard and Village Green shafts in Thrybergh. After describing the Village Green cross, he says ‘still further to the east, in the village cemetery, are the base and very fine fragment of a second cross. This latter has a bust at the bottom, and, higher up, the lower part of a human figure…[the cross is] connected with a picturesque tradition of the Reresby family who first appear in Thrybergh c. 1315-28’.


The Yorkshire Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874)., L. A. S. Butler, ed. Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 159, Woodbridge, 2007.

A. H. Thompson and C. T. Clay, Fasti Parochiales II part II. Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 107, Leeds, 1943.

E. Coatsworth, Western Yorkshire, CASSS 8, Oxford, 2008.

W. G. Collingwood, "Anglian and Anglo-Danish Sculpture in the West Riding.", Yorkshire Archaeological Journal , 23 (1915), 129-299.

Joseph Hunter, South Yorkshire. Deanery of Doncaster, 2, London 1831.

Terry Knapton, St Leonard's church, Thrybergh, n.p., n.d. no c. year either.

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 West Riding of Yorkshire, London, 2nd ed. (1911), 1923.

N. Pevsner, revised by E. Radcliffe, The Buildings of England, Yorkshire, The West Riding, Harmondsworth, 1967.

J Raine, The Dedications of the Yorkshire Churches, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal , 2 (1873).

P. F. Ryder, Saxon Churches in South Yorkshire, South Yorkshire County Council Archaeology Monograph no.2., Sheffield, 1982.