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St Giles, Bielby, Yorkshire, East Riding

(53°53′0″N, 0°48′9″W)
SE 788 437
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
medieval St Giles
now St Giles
  • Rita Wood
28 Apr 2005, 25 Nov 2015

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Feature Sets

The church is composed of a simple nave and chancel in one; it was ‘largely rebuilt in 1792’ (Pevsner & Neave 1995, 324). The 18th-century rebuild made a W doorway, and three round-headed windows in the S and E walls, all of which re-used 12th-century remnants. The church avoided a Victorian restoration, even though plans for restoration were sketched by Temple Moore and never acted upon. Until recently the outside walls were painted white, which resulted in a deterioration of the stonework.

A restoration of the exterior walls was completed between 2005 and 2015 with the assistance of English Heritage. The restoration clearly illustrated that the north arcade was of a 13th-century date; it also exposed four fragments of a twelfth-century string-course which was reused in the E wall. It was found that the arcade, and therefore the nave, had formerly continued one bay west, while the position of the original S doorway is suggested by the presence or absence of a simple plinth course in the (now) W bay of the nave.

Reused original parts outside include a hoodmould over the E window; a single beakhead reset as a keystone at the apex of each of the two S windows; another beakhead and a few voussoirs with an unusual chevron moulding at the head of the W doorway. There is nothing from the Romanesque period to be seen inside the church, which is simple and appears never to have had a chancel arch.


Morcar held 25 carucates here as one manor; however according to the DB the king held them, and another 3 carucates. The value had reduced from £56 to £8. (VCH II, 197, 321.) There was a church and a priest. Historically the church was linked to Hayton.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration


1. N arcade. Stapleton 1966, 1, says that four pillars of a 13th-century arcade were uncovered in the N wall during work in 1963 and 1965.

2. The beakheads are similar to the single beakhead reset in the S nave wall at Goodmanham, although further comparisons should be sought. The chevron moulding is unusual for the area, and the only comparison is with Selby Abbey's N arcade, bay 4, made in a 'later Romanesque' phase. If it had a nailhead rather than beading, it might be dated to the same period as the small nailhead on the E window. Fine nailhead is seen at Reighton (N arcade), and also at Easington (N doorway), where beakheads - or anything other than mouldings or waterleaf - would be anachronistic. It is thus difficult to make one arch of both chevrons and beakheads, and yet there is no record of a chancel arch as well as a doorway.

3. The reused string-course in the fabric of the E wall is in a pattern not seen so far in Yorkshire. A comparison has been found at Wilmington (Sussex), also in the chancel walls.

4. The assorted fabric of the walls suggests that the church must have been plastered from the beginning.


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

H. E. C. Stapleton, A history of St Giles church and the village of Bielby. York, 1966.

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

O. J. F. Whitaker, The Story of St. Giles’ church and the village of Beilby. York 1980.