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St Mary, Kirkby Fleetham, Yorkshire, North Riding

(54°21′21″N, 1°34′8″W)
Kirkby Fleetham
SE 281 957
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, North Riding
now North Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • Jeffrey Craine
September 2011

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Feature Sets

Kirkby Fleetham is a village on the River Swale about 15 miles NW of Thirsk, and the church lies to the N of the village. This is a fairly large and substantial building, which now stands some distance from the village of Kirkby Fleetham. The church was comprehensively restored in the 1870s. The present building consists of a nave with N vestry, a chancel, a N aisle, a S porch and a W tower. The surviving Romanesque elements are the N and S doorways.


The area surrounding the vicinity of the church has a somewhat complex history. At the time of the Doomsday Survey, there were two distinct villages called Kirkby and Fleetham, both belonging to Alan of Brittany. The name Kirkby derives from the old Norse for ‘a village with a church’. There were two manors at Fleethan, which were held separately until 1086. Subsequently, the lands around both villages seems to have changed hands frequently and not without disputation. The church is situated adjacent to Kirkby Hall and is all that remains of the village of Kirkby, which appears to have become gradually depopulated. A Leonard Smelt, the Northallerton MP, was described on his death in 1740 as ‘of Kirkby Fleetham’, indicating that the villages had been united by this time.

The Domesday Survey records that in 1066 the 'Cherchebi' had a church and a priest. The manor was held by Gamal, son of Karli, and Uhtred; in 1086 it passed under the lordship of Odo the Chamberlain, being the Count Alan of Brittany tenant-in-chief. The manor valued £2.


Exterior Features




The type of chevron ornament on the S doorway can be dated to the third quarter of the 12thc and compared to similar forms of carving observable in this region, such as Osmotherley and Felixkirk.


N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire, The North Riding, Harmondsworth 1966, 213.

W. Page (ed.), A History of the County of York North Riding, vol. 1, London 1923, 320-3.