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St Peter, Kirk Smeaton, Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°38′36″N, 1°12′53″W)
Kirk Smeaton
SE 520 166
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now North Yorkshire
formerly St Mary
now St Peter
  • Rita Wood
26 April 2002, 18 April 2016

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Kirk Smeaton is the most southerly village of the County, about 10 miles S of Doncaster. The church and most of the village is on the S side of the river Went, between its gorge to the W and the flat lands of the Humberhead levels to the E. The building is of Magnesian Limestone. It consists of a nave and chancel, N aisle and W tower. Restoration and enlargements took place in 1862 (Robinson 1984, 8-9). The church appears from outside as entirely later than 12thc, but contains an interesting 12thc chancel arch of about 1160, also a font which is probably a little earlier. Pevsner (1995, 293) describes the pointed tower arch as over-restored, but it still has half-round pillars.

The sculpture of our period has been painted. This may obscure the finer points, for example, patterns on the neckings of the chancel arch capitals. The font was formerly plastered.


The Domesday Books records that in 1066 Morcar, Ulfkil, Gamal, Andor and Barth were lords of the manor, which valued £6. In 1086 its lordship passed to Robert, while Ilbert of Lacy was tenant-in-chief. The presence of the church is also briefly recorded.

The guide (Robinson 1984, 7) says that ‘the recorded history of this church is somewhat patchy.’


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches
Tower/Transept arches




Chancel arch

Pevsner says: 'Late Norman chancel arch, a good piece, though heightened in 13thc' (1995, 293). The pointed arch is a curiosity. There looks to be no change in the chevron pattern, nor disturbance to the jointing (which can just be picked out through the paint): the curve is smooth. There are pointed arches with chevrons at Campsall in the S transept arch. Further comparison might be made with mid-12thc arcades at Malmesbury Abbey which have pointed arches. The odd thing about the second order to both E and W is that the roll moulding is lacking in bulk in comparison with the pillar in the jambs. Many of the patterns in neckings and impost occur at Birkin, and to a lesser degree, at Brayton. The star roundels of the S capital, second order to the nave, is found in something like this form at Birkin, Riccall and Bishop Wilton.

Tower arch

Pevsner says: 'Norman also the tower arch; over-restored.' It echoes the shape of the chancel arch, but the mouldings are plainer. There is a pointed tower arch at Thorpe Salvin'.


N. Pevsner, Yorkshire: West Riding. The Buildings of England, Harmondsworth 1959, 2nd ed. revised by E. Radcliffe, 1967.

H. Robinson, St Peter’s Church, Kirk Smeaton, Pontefract 1984.