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All Saints, Cawood, Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°49′59″N, 1°7′29″W)
SE 577 378
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now North Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
  • Rita Wood
30 Mar 1998, 1 Feb 2014

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Feature Sets

Cawood is a former market town about 10 miles S of York in the Selby district of North Yorkshire. The church is well-placed above the river, but is rather plain inside. The nave measures approx. 19ft by 46, probably on the plan of the 12thc. church. There was once a later medieval chapel in the angle between the chancel and the S aisle (see below). The two doorways, the W into the nave and the S to the S aisle, are late. There was a restoration under J. Oldrid Scott following a faculty of 1886. Sculpture is found only on the waterleaf capitals of the W doorway, which seems to have been rebuilt.


No mention of a church in DB. Faculty papers, 1886/1, at the Borthwick Institute, show that the W doorway was blocked by the organ before the restoration under J. Oldrid Scott. This doorway is not now in use.

The archbishop had a palace at Cawood (Grid ref. SE 574 377), perhaps even under Archbishop Roger (1154-81). Blood and Taylor 1992, p.93, state that 'The earliest apparent reference to archiepiscopal occupation at Cawood is 1181 when Archbishop Roger de Pont l'Eveque stayed at Cawood', citing Wheater 1865, p.79. The earliest remains now to be seen at the palace are fifteenth century. The site has not been excavated, though humps and bumps are visible from public footpath at rear; it is more central than the church, seeming to have occupied a large SE quadrant at the crossroads. The gatehouse is a Landmark Trust property.


Exterior Features



The capitals and jambs of the W doorway may be compared with those at Long Marston and Moor Monkton, for example. The arch mouldings at those churches are complex and relatively late: plain chamfered arches are seen at Bilton-in-Ainsty. The use of this particular type of Magnesian limestone is late; compare the W doorway at Selby Abbey, as well as the first two churches mentioned above.

Three of four fragmentary figure sculptures, c.1200, first recorded as 'found on the site of a chapel in the angle between the south aisle and the chancel of Cawood church', are now in the Yorkshire Museum, York. They are two standing figures and a seated Virgin and Child. They are not thought to have come from this church, but may be connected with the residence of the Archbishops at Cawood Castle, which is close by. See Thompson, 1983, pp. 101, 102; Heywood, ed., 1993, pp. 10, 46, 47.

A stone column base spotted in a key-holder's garden awaits investigation.


N. K. Blood and C. C. Taylor, 'Cawood: an archiepiscopal landscape', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 64 (1992), pp. 83-102.

B. Heywood (ed.), Henry Moore Sculpture Trust, Romanesque Stone Sculpture from Medieval England (Leeds, 1993).

F. H. Thompson (ed.), 'Studies in Medieval Sculpture', Society of Antiquaries Occasional Paper 3 (1983).

W. Wheater, History of the Parishes of Sherburn and Cawood (Selby, 1865).