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All Saints, Arksey, Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°33′19″N, 1°7′38″W)
SE 579 069
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now South Yorkshire
medieval York
now Sheffield
  • Barbara English
  • Rita Wood
11 March 2010

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A large cruciform church of creamy limestone, with aisles to chancel and nave, lying in a wooded churchyard opposite the late 17thc almshouses and school. The church has retained much of its Romanesque plan and walling, although George Gilbert Scott restored many features during 1869 to 1870 while he was working on St George’s, Doncaster. There are some plans in the Borthwick Institute.

The W wall of the nave contains Romanesque masonry, well coursed below a later window, with traces of a cruder long and short quoin edge at the SW corner. All four ends of the originally cruciform church show early walling in the lower four to five feet. The fabric of these oldest parts is very varied: some large blocks at the W end, thin slab-like stones elsewhere. The central tower has Romanesque masonry up to the last string course below the parapet. The building was altered in the late 12thc, with the addition of the N arcade.


In Domesday Book the vill was in the fee of Roger de Busli, later part of the honour of Tickhill. There is very little recorded early history. The first presentation to the church that Hunter found was in 1294 (Hunter 1828, 325).


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

String courses

Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches



Interior Decoration


Sir Stephen Glynne visited Arksey in January 1856, before Scott’s restoration, and he recorded a Norman arch on square imposts between the N aisle and the transept, and over it a window of the same kind, then blocked. Also, below the belfry stage of the tower he noted “an obtuse window of early character.” He reported that the E window was "poor, Perpendicular, of three lights” (Butler 2007, 68). There is little doubt that the E end of the chancel is Victorian (Ryder 1982, 88).

The S of the West Riding has a number of churches in which the early chancel walls have survived. At Arksey, the poor Perpendicular E window was replaced, on what local evidence we cannot know, by Victorian three-light E windows in the Transitional Norman style. Victorian replacements tended to make the central light taller than the other two, as here. Pevsner suggests that the E wall of the chancel may not be so much made new as ‘improved’ by the Scott restoration, and that the arrangement of windows, with three lancets and one oculus may be that of the original E wall. The restored chancel windows at Askham Richard, near York, are similarly arranged.

Pevsner says ‘Norman the crossing piers, though confusingly added to later’ (1967, 82).


Borthwick Faculty papers, Fac. 1868/3; Fac. 1913/11.

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

D. N. Hart, 'Welcome to All Saints Church, Arksey', duplicated typescript. Arksey 2000.

Joseph Hunter, South Yorkshire, Deanery of Doncaster, 1. 1828.

J. E. Morris, The West Riding of Yorkshire. London, 1911, 2nd ed. 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), 180-92.