We use cookies to improve your experience, some are essential for the operation of this site.

St Andrew, Weaverthorpe, Yorkshire, East Riding

(54°7′36″N, 0°31′18″W)
SE 967 711
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now North Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
formerly All Saints and St Andrew
medieval All Saints and St Andrew
now St Andrew
  • Rita Wood
23 August 2007

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=3209.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.


The church stands high on the N side of the Great Wold Valley and above the main W-E section of the course of the Gypsey Race stream before it turns at Burton Fleming and Rudston. To the immediate E of the church is the site of an early medieval manor house, which has been excavated (Brewster, 1972; Norton, 2006, fig. 11).

The church, with its W tower, nave and chancel, largely retains its Norman form (Bilson, 1922, 52), although elements were restored in 1870-72 by G. E. Street. It was faced with well-cut coursed ashlar blocks in the Norman technique (Norton, 2006, 55).

There are three doorways with tympana: one in the chancel and two opposite each other in the nave. One of the stones that forms the tympanum over the S doorway is an inscribed sun-dial with an inscription, which means that this church can be dated to c.1109-c.1118. Sculptural embellishment of the building is otherwise almost non-existent, apart from the capitals of the belfry windows and an unusual impost profile on the chancel and tower arches; there are no corbels. The cylindrical font is patterned.


Domesday Book records a manor of 18 carucates, which, with its berewicks, had 26 carucates. Previously held by Archbishop Eldred of York and having a value of £14, Archbishop Thomas II held it in 1086 when it was 'waste' (VCH, II, 212).

Herbert the Chamberlain (chamberlain to King Henry I), named on the inscription as Herbert of Winchester, was granted the main Yorkshire estates centred on Weaverthorpe and Londesborough by Archbishop Thomas II of York in 1108-09; Herbert's son William fitzHerbert (later Archbishop) was appointed to the office of treasurer of York Minster and archdeacon of the East Riding at about the same time (Norton, 2006, 11-16). Herbert granted Weaverthorpe church to his son William, who gave it in turn to Nostell Priory, probably in spring 1121 (Norton, 2006, 43-45).

The inscription describes the church as a ‘monasterium’, a minster church. Eight local churches mostly in the Great Wold Valley were subject to Weaverthorpe (Norton, 2006, fig. 2). Of these, only West Lutton and Cowlam have any 12thc remains today.


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

String courses

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches
Tower/Transept arches



Loose Sculpture


The church was restored for Tatton Sykes II in 1870-1872 by G. E. Street (Bayly 1894, 1-8, plan pl. 1; Bilson 1922, plan p. 53; Pevsner and Neave 1995, 738-39). According to Bayly (1894), the walls on the N side of the nave and chancel were rebuilt under Street, having been affected by soil creep; the stones were numbered and replaced. Bilson says ‘the original roofs of the nave and chancel had been lowered, and the existing roofs date from the restoration by G. E. Street in 1871-2’; he states that the walls are about 21 feet high (6.4m) above the nave floor, and the windows start at about 9 feet (2.74m).

Although plain, the walls were probably painted, and the church was well-fitted: Bilson identifies two alcoves in the N and S walls of the chancel at the E end as 12thc aumbry cupboards; Morris (1919, 322-23) notes on W face of chancel arch on the N side, a tall plain niche, presumably for a light, but it may be later. Above the tower arch is a rectangular opening, intermediate in size between the S chancel doorway and the nave doorways. A slight horizontal recess, best seen on the W wall, marks the level of the earlier flat ceiling over the nave, and correspondingly a floor to a space above, which would have been entered by the doorway. Newbald church, perhaps begun a little later than Weaverthorpe, similarly made use of upper spaces over the transepts and crossing.

Bilson (1922, 54) describes the stone used for the building as a ‘calcareous grit’, and thinks that it was ‘undoubtedly from Filey Brig.’ He cites early charters which allowed access to quarries there (Mon. Ang. vi, 288, charter no. 14). Following a fieldwork visit with Dr Martyn Pedley in 2004, the stone used for the ashlar on the exterior S wall of the nave was identified by a zone fossil as being from the Cardioceras cordatum zone of the Birdsall Calcareous Grit, which is part of the Coralline Oolite in the Jurassic. The Birdsall Calcareous Grit presently outcrops in the area around Birdsall to Malton and at Filey Brigg (Pedley, 2004; Rayner and Hemingway, 1974, 162, 214-15). On the visit in August 2007 some stonework was being replaced, and one empty socket showed chalk used in the filling, although the mortar inside is probably recent. The stone used for the font was probably different.

Bilson (1922, 56) compares the tower at Weaverthorpe with the towers at Kirby Grindalythe and Wharram-le-Street. Indications of surviving pre-Conquest traditions are seen in the thin ashlar-faced walls, only 2’4” or 0.71m (Bilson, 1922, 54); the absence of pilaster buttresses; the tall proportions of the unbuttressed tower (contrasted with Garton-on-the-Wolds); and the sun-dial over the door, a survival of a local tradition, as seen at Great Edstone and Kirkdale (Bilson 1922, 57; Collingwood 1907, 275, 344).

Norton compares the churches of Wharram le Street and St Rule’s, St Andrew's to Weaverthorpe (2006, 64-6).

Inscription: John Bilson’s discussion of the inscription and the history behind it (1922, 59-70) has been superceded by a more detailed examination by Christopher Norton, which allows the building to be dated to between c. 1109, when the grant was made by the archbishop to Herbert, and Herbert’s disgrace in 1118 (2006, 54); Norton suggests Herbert died not long after this.

Font: Bilson describes this: ‘as usual, the last thing made for the new church’ (Bilson 1922, 57). He also says this of Newbald, where the church was not built in one campaign and the font almost certainly belongs to the later period. Weaverthorpe font comes from a workshop that used pattern, and it was probably not the work of the masons who made the building: given the contrast in style, the font may not have been part of the original fittings for the building. Perhaps it was installed or recarved when the Augustinians received the church in 1121. It strongly resembles the font at Rudston, where all the patterns are otherwise uniquely found; it seems very probable that the two fonts are contemporary. Rudston font appears more competent, so perhaps the font at Weaverthorpe was a copy or an apprentice piece.

Slab set in the exterior of the E wall: noted by Collingwood as part of the shaft of a cross (1911a, 276), it has been specifically excluded from the Anglo-Saxon Corpus (Lang 1991, 230). Compare the form of incised cross with ends drilled at Conisbrough (YW), altar slab in N aisle, and individual crosses inscribed elsewhere, eg. Newbald (YE), R shafts of S nave doorway.


J. Bayly, Four Churches in the Deanery of Buckrose restored or built by the late George Edmund Street, RA, for Sir Tatton Sykes, Bart, London, 1894.

J. Bilson, 'Weaverthorpe church and its builder', Archaeologia 72 (1922) 51-70.

T. C. M. Brewster, 'An Excavation at Weaverthorpe Manor, East Riding, 1960', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 44 (1972) 114-133.

W. G. Collingwood, 'Anglian and Anglo-Danish Sculpture in the North Riding of Yorkshire', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 19 (1907) 266-413.

W. G. Collingwood, ‘Anglian and Anglo-Danish Sculpture in the East Riding, with addenda to the North Riding’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 21 (1911) 254-302.

J. T. Lang et al., York and Eastern Yorkshire. Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, III. Oxford, 1991.

J. E. Morris, The East Riding of Yorkshire, London, 1919.

C. Norton, St William of York, Woodbridge, 2006.

M. Pedley, Brief report on the building stone and font stone in Early Norman Churches of East Yorkshire, Typescript, 2004.

N. Pevsner and D. Neave, Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, London, 1995.

D. H. Rayner and J. E. Hemingway, The Geology and Mineral Resources of Yorkshire, Leeds, 1974.

Victoria County History:Yorkshire, II (General volume), London, 1912; reprinted 1974.