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St Mary, Huggate, Yorkshire, East Riding

(53°59′16″N, 0°39′22″W)
SE 882 555
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
formerly All Saints
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • Rita Wood
10 May 2007, 15 May 2007

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Huggate is a village 13 miles NW of Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The church has a W tower, aisled nave with porch, and chancel with vestry. Restored 1864. The chancel arch and the nave arcades are twelfth-century work; the two round-headed but over-restored windows in the E wall of the nave may well originally have been of the same period too. A highlight of the church is the south nave arcade with its finely-sculptured human and animal heads on the capitals.


In Domesday Book the king held an estate of 8 ½ carucates, which had formerly been held by Baret, and Grim and Ingrede. Another estate, of 8 carucates which had belonged to Ingrede, was in waste. It was held by Ernuin the priest, who was an important landholder in the Riding (VCH ii, 204, 286, 321).


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches



Windows in E wall of nave

Morris 1919, p. 207, thinks the windows may have been to light the rood loft. Compare Fridaythorpe’s window in S wall possibly for lighting the rood itself. The windows are thought not to be in situ by Pevsner and Neave, but they are compared to remnants of windows at Bubwith (1995, 497; 359). At Bubwith on the E wall of the nave are the rectangular outlines of two blocked windows within the line of the steep gable.

S arcade

According to Pevsner & Neave, this arcade ‘must be of c.1190’ (1995, p. 497). The architectural forms on their own appear late in date, but its sculpture continues Romanesque ideas. It may be of interest that the forms of the lions on the E respond, and of the faces of all the people carved, is seen in Continental models, not those common in the English Romanesque. The Augustinians at Kirkburn had a bias to German and hence Italian forms and motifs.

A local comparison for the symbolism of the crowned head on the SE angle of the W respond might be the head on the label from the S doorway preserved at West Lutton, though the date and style is different. Further, without the whole doorway, it is not possible to be sure whether the crowned head at West Lutton represents an anonymous believer, or whether it represents Christ.

Close comparisons for faces with an apprehensive expression are found on the N nave arcade at Pocklington, and at Melbourne, Derbyshire, on pillars of the crossing that look towards the nave (Wood 2006, fig. 15). Such faces are also found in illuminated Ottonian manuscripts, where the expression indicates one of awe and fear as subjects approach their king. It is suggested that the carved faces represent the redeemed ascending to heaven into the presence of God. The symmetrical lions on the E respond would represent the unknowable spiritual body to be given to the blessed (Philipp.3:21; 1 Cor.15:35-58); adopted as the child of ‘leo fortis’ (Romans12:11-15), a small lion would form an appropriate spiritual body. The duplication of the lion is due to the desire for symmetry in depicting heaven. The foliage on Pier 2 and the W respond is a symbol of life in the heavenly paradise. The sculpture, which in all three churches is in the part used by the laity, teaches the ascension of all believers.

N arcade

Pevsner & Neave 1995, p. 497, state that this arcade ‘was undertaken a little earlier [than the S arcade, c.1190]. It is much more ordinary.’ Pyramidal chamfer stops as used on the N arcade have been recorded at Rufforth and Wighill (YW).


J. E. Morris, The East Riding of Yorkshire (London, 1906) 2nd edn. (1919).

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

J. Raine, 'The Dedications of the Yorkshire Churches', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 2 (1873).

VCH Yorkshire East Riding, III (Oxford, 1976).

R. Wood, 'The Romanesque Church at Melbourne', Derbyshsire Archaeological Journal 126 (2006), 127-168.