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All Saints, Londesborough, Yorkshire, East Riding

(53°53′54″N, 0°40′49″W)
SE 868 455
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
  • Rita Wood
14 Aug 2006, 07 Jun 2016

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Londesborough village is on a south-facing slope of the scarp face of the Wolds, about two miles N of Market Weighton. The site probably related to the course of the Roman road from the Humber to Malton, but is now far from traffic.

The church is on a natural rise within the churchyard.

The church comprises W tower, nave with N aisle, a S porch, and a chancel with a N chapel (Pevsner and Neave, 1995, 601-602). Plans in faculty papers (Borthwick Fac. 1875/5) suggest a 12thc. church with a nave and W tower. Its chancel cannot be traced. Much of the church is built of small pieces of a Jurassic stone.

Restoration is not too extensive, and the memorials of the successive landowning families do not dominate the interior.

The only Romanesque feature is the S doorway with its tympanum. Details on the c. 1200 N arcade recall earlier forms.


Archaeological evidence (roads, coins, and aerial photographs) suggest that there may have been a Roman settlement in the vicinity, S of the village across the valley (Neave 1977, 7-8; Faull 1974, 9-11, fig. 2). This may have been followed by Anglian settlement nearby.

DB says that in Everingham, with its berewicks Londesborough, Towthorpe and Goodmanham, there were 17 carucates; Archbishop Eldred had them and afterwards they were in the hands of Archbishop Thomas. Two clerks and one knight held the land in DB, and there is no mention of a church at any of the settlements. In the time of King Edward the manor had been worth £14, at the time of DB, £6. (VCH II, 211) The Archbishop had 7½ carucates at Londesborough. (VCH II, 319)

Herbert the Chamberlain was the brother-in-law of King Stephen and the father of William Fitzherbert, the archbishop who was canonised as St William of York. The inscribed stone at Weaverthorpe records that this Herbert built that church, and it is likely that he also built Londesborough church. (Neave 1977, 43)

Archbishop Thomas II gave Londesborough with Towthorpe, and Weaverthorpe with Helperthorpe, to Herbert the Chamberlain and Herbert Fitzherbert c.1109. The churches of these estates were granted to William Fitzherbert by his father and brother. (Neave 1977, 9, 11; Norton 2006, 49).


Exterior Features


Interior Features



Doorway and post-Conquest church: Collingwood illustrates the cross-head and the sundial together, saying (incorrectly) that they are both built into the tympanum. He also casts doubt on the pre-Norman dates sometimes assigned to the plain dial (1911, 272).

Jim Lang dates the cross-head above the doorway to between the second half of the 9thc. and the second half of the 10thc.; he is not sure if it was a cross-head or a plaque (1991, 180). The sundial in the tympanum is specifically excluded from the Anglo-Saxon Corpus (Lang 1991, 230).

In his biography of William fitzHerbert (St William), Christopher Norton mentions Londesborough several times since it was the chief place of the lesser of two estates in Yorkshire over which the family had lordship, and William held the church. He says that the S nave doorway probably dates to William’s time. He notes a reset Anglo-Scandinavian cross-head with interlace carving above the doorway, which may have been an original element of the early 12thc. arrangement, as the lintel of the doorway is a monolith in the same distinctive stone as the cross-head. (Norton 2006, 49, 52) The lintel may be the shaft of that Anglo-Scandinavian cross, although the fit is not perfect. Norton also thinks it was an original part of the Romanesque doorway.

It is possible that the sundial at Londesborough was accompanied by a painted inscription; painting is postulated to complete the wording at Weaverthorpe (Norton, 2006, 54).

Nave doorway: On both capitals, the slight widening of the cones just below the curve of the shield recalls the same feature at Newbald, and a capital of the N arcade at Stonegrave (North Riding) where some circles were also inscribed but not carved, although others in the same arcade were. (Fieldworker)

North arcade: the treatment given to the bases is reminiscent of the bases of the N arcade at Sandal Magna (YW), as they both have rather coarse lugs and the plinths are high, but the arrangement of mouldings at Londesborough is not standard for Romanesque. (Fieldworker)


Borthwick Institute faculty papers: Fac. 1875/5.

W. G. Collingwood, “Anglian and Anglo-Danish Sculpture in the East Riding, with addenda to the North Riding”. Yorks. Archaeol. Journal 21 (1911) 254-302.

M. L. Faull, “Roman and Anglian Settlement Patterns in Yorkshire”, Northern History, 9/1, (1974), 1-25.

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, 2nd ed. (1906) 1919.

D. Neave, Londesborough: history of an East Yorkshire estate village (York 1977, revised 2006).

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

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

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