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St Wilfrid, Hickleton, Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°32′31″N, 1°16′21″W)
SE 483 053
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now South Yorkshire
medieval York
now Sheffield
  • Barbara English
  • Rita Wood
4 April 2011

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=12201.

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Feature Sets

The church lies close to Hickleton Hall and its extensive outbuildings, including lodge, stabling etc, surrounded by trees. The 20th-century lords of the manor, the earls of Halifax, redecorated and refurnished the interior of the church in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. Externally the church is Perpendicular. Owing to subsidence caused by coal mining, a rescue archaeology project and restoration at the church was funded by the National Coal Board in 1982-6; the report of the excavation was never fully published, but the papers are with South Yorkshire Archaeological Services (see Bibliography below). The Romanesque remains are the chancel arch, and some loose stones housed at the time of our visit in the nearby stable buildings of Hickleton Hall. In Doncaster Museum store is at least one item from the excavation at the church, a star-patterned window-head probably from the east window, recorded for CRSBI in December 2001, YW97(35). According to Raine 1873, 186, the dedication in 'modern' times, was St Denis.


The vill is in Domesday Book but no church is mentioned. Sydes 1984, 2, suggests that a chapel of ease was set up at Hickleton between 1050 and 1100, with Barnburgh church retaining a financial interest which was formally relinquished around 1170. Between 1170 and 1177 Jordan, the parson of Hickleton, seems to have established that Hickleton was the mother church of Barnburgh (Farrer 1915 no.584) which contradicts Sydes’s statement above. Although Farrer interpreted the charter of c.1170-1177 in this way, it is possible that he misunderstood the 'eadem ecclesia' phrase. In 1201 a partition gave Hickleton to Ralf de Neufmarche (Farrer 1915 no.584); in 1350-1 it was given to the priory and convent of Monk Bretton (Thompson and Clay 1933, 140).


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

A. H. Thompson (in Fallow 1909, 126-7) discusses the church at Hooton Pagnell as the work of a mason ‘during last quarter of 11th century, [working] in a conservative spirit, [combining] the recessed arch, whose construction he thoroughly understands, with the plain jambs of an earlier style… In his south doorway he has worked with the same apparent idea of compromise and the whole building… is a very unusual example of an early Norman church in which the traditions of pre-Conquest architecture have been perpetuated... Two miles south, the low chancel arch of Hickleton, with chevron ornament and nook shaft capitals that look as if their author had gone to Hooton Pagnell for inspiration, is the Norman nucleus of a later building. Farther south again, in High Melton, where there is a later south aisle, the chancel arch, broad and flat in shape, is without moulding, and springs from plain imposts...’

The distribution of patterning on the impost blocks at Hickleton might be compared to that at Armthorpe (YW). The arch, as a whole, seems to combine the early features of the capitals and impost at Hooton Pagnell – already carried forward from the pre-Conquest period according to A. H. Thompson - with voussoirs which might be dated to the 1130s or later; a long span. There are oddities in the structure: in the make-up of the impost which appears trimmed on the faces most seen; in the fit of the south capital as seen from the chancel; also the not fully semi-circular arch, all of which might suggest a rebuild of the upper part at some date. Perhaps the geological fault which runs so close to the south side of the arch moved, causing the arch to collapse and make a rebuild necessary. The east face of the arch appears consistent throughout, but, of course, on that side it is plain.

South Yorkshire Archaeology Service (Sites and Monuments Record) has unpublished archaeological reports on the excavation of the 1980s, undertaken by South Yorkshire County Council Archaeology Unit (since abolished). The archive is now held jointly at South Yorkshire Archaeology Service (Sheffield) and Doncaster Museum. It includes the original reports, site notebooks and photographs, filed at South Yorkshire Archaeology Service's Barnby Dun store. At the time of writing (May 2011), the excavation had not been conclusively written up. There is an interim report on the excavations (Sydes 1984) kept by Doncaster Museum, and a revision by Peter Ryder is in progress.

Painted stones, two foliate capitals and a column base were found in the excavation. Among other inferences drawn from these finds, it is suggested by Ryder (1984/2011, 11-18) that in the period around 1170 to 1200 a south aisle of two bays, a south doorway and a porch were added to the nave, the aisle running the full length of the nave. Some of this material survives, and two carved pieces from the doorway and one painted stone from the arcade are to be acquired by Doncaster Museum; a home for the rest has not yet been found. Doncaster Museum already have the star-pattern windowhead (recorded for the Corpus) and one capital from the excavation, S70 (Ryder 2011, 16-17; 12). See also the report on the pieces at Hickleton Hall.

The absence of the usual elements at the bottom of the chancel arch is largely due to the levelling of the floor following the stabilisation of the church in the 1980s. For this, see Sydes 1984, fig. 2, ‘West face of the Norman chancel arch with the modern floor level shown as a dotted line’ which gives some idea of the structure.


J. Dabell, St Wilfrid's Church Hickleton: The Building Development of a Parish Church, Wombwell, 1999.

W. Farrer, Early Yorkshire Charters, 1, Edinburgh, 1915.

Fasti Parochiales , A. H. Thompson and C. T. Clay (eds.), I part I (Deanery of Doncaster), Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 85 (1933).

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, Lapidary Material from the 1983 Hickleton Church Excavation, Draft report, 1983/4, revised 2011.

R. E. Sydes et al, Draft Report, The Excavation of St Wilfrid’s Church, Hickleton, 1983, 1984.

R. E. Sydes et al, The Excavation of St. Wilfrid’s church, Hickleton. Second Interim report, Sept. 1984.

R. E. Sydes, St Wilfred’s Church, Hickleton, South Yorkshire: An Assessment Report, 2003.

R. E. Sydes & D. Ratcliffe with contributions from B. Sprake, P. Ryder, S. Moorhouse, M. Lloyd Jones, M. Parker and D. Parsons, St Wilfrid’s Hickleton: A South Yorkshire Church Rediscovered, South Yorkshire Archaeology Service, 2003.

A. H. Thompson, ‘The Village Churches of Yorkshire’, Memorials of Old Yorkshire, London 1909.