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St John the Baptist, Mexborough, Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°29′30″N, 1°16′40″W)
SK 480 997
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now South Yorkshire
medieval York
now Sheffield
  • Barbara English
  • Rita Wood
7 June 2011

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Feature Sets

Mexborough is a town on the estuary of the River Dearne in the borough of Doncaster, North Yorkshire. The church consists of a tower with spire, battlemented nave and a chancel, S and N aisles and a porch. Much of the stone is darkened by the industries that formerly surrounded it. The S side of the churchyard abuts on a canal. The church contains some late Romanesque or Transitional work, but has been much restored (Ryder 1982, 95).


The vill is in Domesday Book but no church or priest is mentioned. Swein son of Ailric gave half of the church of Mexborough to Nostell priory, a gift confirmed 1121x1127 by Henry I (Farrer 1916, nos. 1428,1435); it was part of the Lascy fee. According to Lawton (1842, 207-8), the church was founded by the Saxon family of Ailric, and post Conquest was in two parts, one given by Montbegon to the house of Bretton (Monk Bretton), and the other to St Nicholas at Pontefact by Swein, which subsequently came to Nostell priory. Later in the 13th century both halves were transferred to the archdeaconry of York. The two parts of the church were disputed between the archdeacon of York and Monk Bretton priory in 1262 and both confirmed to the archdeacon (Clay 1958, 57-8).


Interior Features



Interior Decoration


Glynne in 1853 found here a nave with S aisle and chancel, W tower with short spire ‘rather destitute of good architectural features’. Clerestory on both sides of nave, though only one aisle, the south. Tower small and plain, a W window of two lights, apparently Dec. Belfry window of two lights, square-headed. Font, octagonal bowl and some rope moulding. ‘The nave is divided from its aisle by two wide sprawling pointed arches with octagonal pier [sic] and in the eastern pier is a door-like opening into the aisle.’ (Butler 2007, 294). Borthwick Institute Fac. 1868/1, for interior alterations, includes a plan of the church showing that at that time there was still no N arcade, but that the N wall of the nave was the limit of the church (together with the S arcade the nave makes a square, added to which was a tower to the W and a straight-ended chancel a little longer than the nave). The N wall had windows to light the ground floor, but these must have been positioned between the two arcade piers; clerestory windows were at different intervals. When the church was extended with a N aisle, the earlier work was reopened.


L. A. S. Butler (ed.) The Yorkshire Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874), Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series (159), Woodbridge, 2007, 294.

Faculty papers 1868/1, Borthwick Institute.

F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications or England’s Patron Saints, London 1899, III, 200.a

C. T. Clay, 'York Minster Fasti I', Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series (123), Leeds, 1958, 57-8.

W. Farrer, Early Yorkshire Charters 3, Leeds 1916.

G. Lawton, Collectio rerum ecclesiasticarum de diocesi Eboracensi; or, collections relative to churches and chapels within the Diocese of York. To which are added collections relative to churches and chapels within the diocese of Ripon., New edition, London, 1842, 207-8.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Yorkshire, The West Riding, Harmondsworth 1979, 192.

P. F. Ryder, Saxon Churches in South Yorkshire, South Yorkshire County Council Archaeology Monograph no.2. Sheffield, 1982, 95.