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All Saints, Spofforth, Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°57′13″N, 1°26′43″W)
SE 365 510
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now North Yorkshire
formerly All Hallows
medieval All Saints
  • Rita Wood
01 Sep 1997; 17 Apr 2014

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Spofforth is a village 5 miles S of Harrogate in North Yorkshire. The church is a large one, outwardly Victorian neo-Norman, c.1855 (Leach and Pevsner 2009, 715). Lawrence Butler (2006, 390) describes the church as 'destructively restored' by J. W. Hugill. It has a Perp W tower with late 12th-century N and S arcades and chancel arch remaining from the medieval church; the head of the S doorway is also largely of this period. The exterior of the church before restoration is illustrated in Butler 2007, 390, but shows no sign of 12th-century work.


There is no mention of a church in DB, but part of a pre-Conquest cross shaft is displayed in the church. After the Conquest, Spofforth became a chief place of the Percy family, having been granted to William de Percy by the Conqueror. Spofforth castle, 1/4 mile W, is now an English Heritage property; its earliest work said to be the undercroft of the hall, 13th century.

Kirk 1958, 5, says 'the descent of the advowson seems to have been concurrent with that of the manor, the lords of which were, until the seventeenth century, the earls of Northumberland.'


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches



Loose Sculpture


The stone used for the doorhead is of various colours, comparable to the coarse stone used in walls in the village, but to make the capitals of the arcades and their intricate carving, better stone must have been selected. With the doorway having beakhead and chevron (seen by Sir Stephen Glynne c. 1827) and the arcades with octagonal capitals, perhaps a gap in time between the two features is likely. Yet details of the doorway such as the development of the scallop capitals of the first order, and the large size of stones used, also first order, suggest these must be late beakheads - in which case their loss is regrettable, as their sculptural treatment could have been assessed. Compare the remade doorway at Thorp Arch, which has beakheads.

The figure on the loose slab might be compared to the one reset over the porch at Shiptonthorpe, East Riding, and to a figure on the memorial at Conisbrough. The short chasuble is similar; a beard is not evident on the comparison figures. According to Kirk, writing in 1956, certain 'London experts' estimated a date of c.1150-75, and S. D. Kitson estimated 1175-1200 (Kirk 1985, 6), but something in the first half of the twelfth century would probably be thought more likely by contemporary commentators.

Chancel arch. The arch is pointed but experts accept it as contemporary with the capitals, which are consistent with the work on the S arcade. Glynne, in Butler 2007, 390, calls it 'Early English.. of early character'; Leach and Pevsner (2009, 715) say the arch is 'slightly pointed'. This makes it not much different in that respect from arches at Kirk Smeaton and Campsall. The moulding in the arch, a hollow with a series of spaced domes, is used at Brayton (East Riding), and Easington and Lythe, North Riding, also in a Romanesque context.


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

G. E. Kirk, The Parish Church of All Hallows (All Saints) Spofforth and the chapels of Follifoot, Little Ribston, Plumpton and Stockeld (Shipley, 1958).

P. Leach and N. Pevsner, Yorkshire West Riding: Leeds, Bradford and the North (Yale, 2009).