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St Chad, Middlesmoor, Yorkshire, West Riding

(54°9′45″N, 1°51′38″W)
SE 092 741
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now North Yorkshire
medieval St Chad
now St Chad
  • Rita Wood
06 June 2010

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Feature Sets

The village stands at about 300m above the junction of two streams, the Nidd and the Stean. Looking SE from the church down Nidderdale, it is 7 miles (11.27 km) to Pateley Bridge.

The Victorian church, of 1865-6, has a chancel, nave with N aisle, W tower and NE vestry. The chancel arch incorporates Nidderdale limestone from Blayshaws quarry, about 1¼ miles (2 km) S. This limestone was used as ‘marble’ at Fountains Abbey in the 12thc, two polished capitals in the museum there being recorded for the Corpus.

The church was built in 1866 to replace one described as ‘a primitive looking building consisting of chancel, nave without aisles, a vestry at the west end, a south porch, a low tower not embattled, rising little above the long, low roof, which on the north side originally came down to within two feet of the ground’ (Speight (1906), 344); the ground rises abruptly on the N side of the church.

There is a large but incomplete 10thc cross reset in the church (Coatsworth (2008), 212-3).

Apart from the font, which may be of our period, there are no Romanesque remains to be seen at the church, but see Comments.


Middlesmoor does not appear in the Domesday Survey.

Speight (1906), 344-45, says Middlesmoor was once a chapel of Kirby Malzeard, which is 10 miles (16 km) E. Licence to baptize was granted in 1484 (Swires, (n.d.), 2, 4), with the consecration of the chapel of that period (Leach and Pevsner (2009) 594. Until then, presumably, parishioners had to go over the hills for baptisms, and perhaps burials too.





Speight suggests the font ‘may have been brought from the mother church [Kirby Malzeard] when the license to baptise was obtained in 1484’. He says it ‘has the appearance of being Norman’.

The main unit – the base, stem and cup – could be of 12thc or 13thc date, but it has been remodelled, tidied up and carved, presumably for the 1866 rebuilding. The dimensions of the interior of the font bowl are similar to those of a 12thc font. Even without the extra height given by the added modern rim, it would have been deep.

Speight notes that ‘when the old church was rebuilt in 1865, some fragments of stonework belonging to a previous church were discovered in the heart of the walls. One of these was a piscina which had a piece of lead-piping attached to it.’ This sounds like the piscina once at Adel near Leeds; this was recorded for the Corpus in 1999. Since free-standing piscinas went out of fashion by the late 12thc, and the subsequent wall drains did not need lead piping, it sounds as though the find mentioned by Speight could have been a remnant of a Romanesque fitting. Unfortunately the stone with the lead piping was not found by the fieldworker nor was it known at the church.


E. Coatsworth, Western Yorkshire. Oxford 2008, 212-3.

P. Leach and N. Pevsner , The Buildings of England, Yorkshire West Riding: Leeds, Bradford and the North, New Haven and London 2009, 594.

H. Speight, Upper Nidderdale, with the forest of Knaresborough, London 1906, 344-5.

M. Swires, The Church of St Chad, Middlesmoor. N.p., n.d (after 1992).