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All Saints, Nafferton, Yorkshire, East Riding

(54°0′58″N, 0°23′28″W)
TA 055 590
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
formerly All Hallows
medieval All Saints
now All Saints
  • Rita Wood
12 November 2004

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The church stands on a small but prominent hill in the middle of a large village and overlooking an extensive pond. There is a W tower, aisled nave and chancel (Pevsner and Neave 1995, 618-9).

Most of the structure is later than our period, but the chancel arch has been refashioned from a Romanesque original, and there is a splendid cylindrical font.


In 1086 there were 3 estates, the largest of over 23 carucates held by William de Percy, one of 1 carucate in Pockthorpe was held by the count of Mortain, and 6 bovates were retained by the king. The pre-Conquest value was £8, in Domesday Book £2.10s. Waste is not mentioned. However, though Percy had land for 15 ploughs he had only 3, while 13 villeins had 3 more. The Mortain estate passed to the Percies, and they also appear to have acquired the Crown estate. (VCH ER, II, 285.).

The church is first mentioned in 1232, when it belonged to the Percies. Between 1286 and 1291 the church was acquired by Meaux abbey. The advowson belonged to the Percies until 1302, when it was granted to Meaux. After 1303 it was in the gift of the archbishop of York (VCH ER II, 293).


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches




Chancel arch, R capital: The possible ears of wheat on this capital might refer to teaching developed from the parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:3-8, 18-23), and remind the congregation about the Harvest of Souls. With its proximity to the most sacred part of the church, the chancel arch and its decoration could refer to threshing (Matt. 3:12), that is, the Last Judgment. Two corbels at Kirkburn relate the subject (nos. NS13 and NS19). No corresponding motif of grapes survives, so a reference to the Eucharist is not evident.

The decorative pattern in the arch is unusual for its location. It can be more often found in labels, as at Brayton (YW), or imposts, as at Bubwith.

Font patterns: The loops at the top of the sides might perhaps have been inspired by arcading, which is common on fonts, but it is possible these loops derive from the returns of Insular pattern-making, or from a simple woven pattern as on a capital at Liverton (YN). The similarity to such patterns would be more evident if the spaces in the grid were blank.

The odd number of loops (19) may suggest that the pattern was designed by eye, not by measurement. There are simple experiments with the grid, such as one instance of the interweaving of two adjacent double loops, while the invention of so many variations of the fillings in the diamond-shaped spaces may suggests a craftsman's spontaneous execution of detail rather than the execution of a meticulously planned design. There are adjacent pairs of motifs in slightly different forms, which might suggest that perhaps a second workman was allowed to try his hand. Although the irregular layout is rated as ‘very crude’ in Pevsner and Neave (1995, 619), the design is little different from those on the chancel arch pillars at Healaugh (YW), which are generally considered bold and striking.


F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications or England’s Patron Saints, London 1899, III, 207.

G. Homan, All Saints Church, Nafferton, Pocklington, 1995.

G. Lawton, Collectio rerum ecclesiasticarum de diocesi Eboracensi; or, collections relative to churches and chapels within the Diocese of York. To which are added collections relative to churches and chapels within the diocese of Ripon, New edition (London, 1842), 305-6.

N. Pevsner and D. Neave, Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd. ed. (London, 1995).

Victoria County History: East Riding of Yorkshire, II (Dickering Wapentake), 1974.