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St Margaret, Hilston, Yorkshire, East Riding

(53°46′57″N, 0°2′42″W)
TA 289 336
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
  • Rita Wood
15 Aug 2005

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Feature Sets

A modern building comprising chancel, nave and west tower, in brick and tile, built 1956-7. It replaced the church by J. L. Pearson of 1861-2, which had suffered bomb-damage in 1941; that church had replaced the medieval building.

The present church, inspired by the Danish Romanesque (Pevsner & Neave 1995, 472), has reused what remained of the Norman S doorway as reused by Pearson.


In 1066, Murdoch had 4 ¾ carucates; these passed to Drew de Bevrere by 1086, and to the count of Aumale later still (VCH vii, 51).

There is no record of the church until 1256; it was perhaps a chapel of Roos, which had a priest and a church in the Domesday Survey. It was a poor living.

VCH VII p. 55, fig. 3, shows Hilston church in the earlier 19th century, reproducing Poulson 1841, ii, 58. The engraving shows a plain-walled nave and chancel, with a two-light pointed window in the S nave wall, and the (liturgical) S doorway with what looks like at least two orders of arches. There was a bell-turret. Poulson's description (1841, 82) includes the following information: that the dedication was to St Margaret, and that the church held only 90 persons and was 19 by 6 or 7 paces in size. He says 'the south side of the nave has a low plain circular-headed Norman doorway... on the north side is a corresponding fine old Norman doorway, on a double arch, with the zigzag moulding; the remainder on this side is a plain bare wall... both nave and chancel are built of sea cobbles, except for a few brick reparations to the latter. A small low circular headed arch to the chancel, the abacus from which it rises being five feet eight inches high. The font is an oblong square granite block, hollow, for the basin reaches to the bottom.'

The Faculty papers (Borthwick Fac. 1861/3) have no plan or drawing of the medieval building, but the intention was for 'taking down and effectually removing the said Church... to erect on or near to the Site... a new church', clearing the ground of graves if they would be in the way. The proposed S [sic] elevation shows a doorway with three orders of chevron and perhaps a billet label. The photograph from the Thelwell Collection (Bridlington Public Library; Thelwell was a school teacher in Sledmere) shows the church built by J. L. Pearson for Sir Tatton Sykes with the chevron-arched doorway on the liturgical S side. Stone was still hard to get, and so, sympathetically as well as economically, Pearson's church 'above the ground line [was] to be built in Rubble Stone in mortar ... faced with split cobble stone...'. The boundary wall in this mixed fabric survives in part. There is no word of the 'granite' font being returned to the new church.

Morris (1919, 190) says 'Two Norm. dorways from this humble structure are preserved in the present building [that is, Pearson's church]. That on the N has three orders of chevrons, that on the S is plain’.

Only parts of the chevron doorway survived to be reused.


Exterior Features



The type of chevron used in the third order of the doorway is highly unusual, raising the questions of whether it is the result of wear or of accidental damage during its two restorations or, indeed, whether it is genuine.


J. E. Morris, The East Riding of Yorkshire. 2nd ed., London 1919.

N. Pevsner & D. Neave, Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd ed., London 1995, p. 472.

G. Poulson, The History and Antiquities of the Seigniory of Holderness in the East-Riding of the county of York, including the abbies of Meaux and Swine…, 4 vols, Hull 1841.

Victoria County History: East Riding of Yorkshire, VII (Holderness Wapentake, north and middle sections), 2002.