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St Nicholas, Wetwang, Yorkshire, East Riding

(54°1′6″N, 0°34′39″W)
SE 933 590
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
  • Rita Wood
06 August 2004, 27 May 2016, 28 June 2016

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The church has W tower; nave with N aisle and a N transept or chapel; chancel, but no chancel arch. Entrance is by the N doorway; the S doorway is blocked at least since the improvement in the line of road to the N (now A166). There was a restoration of the N wall and tower by Temple Moore, 1896, when presumably the reset stones were discovered; and the chancel was rebuilt by Hodgson Fowler in 1901-2. Morris (1919, 326-7) does not mention the reset carved stones in the tower or N aisle, but this entry may have been repeated from his first edition. The nave S wall has two small 12thc windows, but these are much altered outside.

Two capitals from the N arcade are reset, its W respond remains; most if not all carved pieces reset in the interior N wall of the N aisle and in the tower are not corbels but are likely to be voussoirs. There is an arcaded cylindrical font.


Domesday Book records that the manor was held by Archbishop Thomas, and it was waste (VCH ii, 211); before the Conquest it was already in the hands of the archbishop. When this large estate was divided around the early 12thc, it became the seat of three important manors, one held by the archbishop and the other two by the prebendaries of Wetwang and Holme (VCHER VIII, 243).

A church at Wetwang is believed to have been given, with some of the archbishop’s land there, to endow the prebend of Wetwang at its foundation; it was always a very rich prebend. The dedication is St Michael in 1550, but became St Nicholas in the mid 1870s (VCHER VIII, 255).


Exterior Features


Interior Features



Interior Decoration






Pevsner (1972, 367) says ‘Two nave S windows, one mutilated, sound the Norman alarm…’. Pevsner & Neave (1995, 748), found this ‘a most interesting church’ and says ‘the Norman origins of the church are indicated from the exterior by two nave S windows, one mutilated.’ Neither window would immediately suggest 12thc work.

E. M. Cole, whose 1902 article on the fonts of the East Riding is still authoritative, was vicar of Wetwang from 1865 to 1911.

Reset pieces

The pieces reset in the tower include two capitals, the remainder could include voussoirs; there are no definite corbels. A roll moulding is present on most if not all, and some do taper. For many of these pieces, however, the subjects are found more often on corbels than arches, and the stones are damaged. Unfortunately, all were too high to assess them adequately.

If voussoirs, it is possible that many of them formed part of an original entrance to the church. There is a preponderance of voussoirs with beakheads but there may have been an accompanying order of roll mouldings, such as accompanies the order of beakheads at Shiptonthorpe; perhaps the Victorians thought that not worth salvaging. There are two voussoirs that do not have beakheads: T2 and N2. These might show a despairing man, and a cheerful man: perhaps enough to postulate an arch with a message like the much more sophisticated order of beakheads at Brayton and Birkin in the West Riding, of faith amid temptations.


E. M. Cole, ‘Ancient Fonts on the Wolds of East Riding’. Transactions of the East Riding Antiquarian Society 10 (1902), 107-117.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 1st ed., Harmondsworth 1972, 367.

N. Pevsner and D. Neave, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd. ed., London 1995, 748-749.

A History of the Country of York, Vol. 2, Victoria County History, London 1912.

A History of the Country of York, East Riding, volume 8, East Buckrose: Sledmere and the Northern Wolds. Victoria County History, eds D. Neave and S. Neave, London 2008.