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St Mary, Little Driffield, Yorkshire, East Riding

(54°0′22″N, 0°27′37″W)
Little Driffield
TA 010 578
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
formerly St Mary and St Peter
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • Rita Wood
23 May 2006

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Little Driffield is W of Great Driffield, and their churches are less than a mile apart.

Faculty papers show that before the 1888 restoration: the chancel S wall had a blocked round-headed doorway, apparently of one order and a label; the chancel arch was pointed; a round font was shown. As part of the restoration a porch was planned on the N side, and buttresses were added. (Borthwick Fac. 1888/10)

The lower part of the W tower is Romanesque, with an upper part added in the early 14thc. The church was largely rebuilt by Temple Moore in the 1889-1890 restoration, exposing old work, for example, on the tower arch (Pevsner and Neave, 1995, 597-8), and apparently the N arcade (Brown, 1971).


Little Driffield and Great Driffield were part of a royal manor, both before and after the Conquest, with some sharing of function. (Neave, n.d., 1)

In DB the area was not distinguishable from Great Driffield, and was an ‘ancient chapelry’ of Great Driffield. (Morris, 1919, 141)

The earliest reference to a dedication is to St Mary in a will of 1454, and the same dedication can be found again c. 1700. From then until the late 19thc. the dedication seems to change to St Peter, after which it reverts to St Mary. (Neave, n.d., 2)

Sir Stephen Glynne visited the village in 1827. He found the church small and ‘lately much modernized’. He mentions a pointed arch between the nave and chancel; a plain octagonal font, and 'a rude Norman arch' opening into the tower with worked imposts. He also noted several monumental slabs 'with rich cross florys' built into the N wall of the church. (Butler, 2007, 277)


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

Loose Sculpture


Blocked doorway: the row of domes on the label of the blocked S doorway may be compared with the label reset inside the doorway of the church at Foston-on-the-Wolds, although that seems earlier. (Fieldworker)

Tower arch: most of the arch suggests an early post-Conquest building, but the 13thc. or 14thc. heads carved in the imposts on both sides raise questions: what would have been the profile of the imposts before the carving of the heads, and could that profile have been contemporary with the rest, i.e., was it that of a scallop capital? It seems unlikely. The projecting blocks, if complete, would look more like a corbel profile of 13thc. or 14thc. date. Moreover, there is no impost in the first order continuous with that of the second order. This part of the arch must have been altered. (Fieldworker)


M. W. Barley (ed.), The History of Great and Little Driffield (Hull c.1938) (assembled by an adult education class; typescript in the Minster Library, York.)

Borthwick Institute Faculty Papers with plan: Fac. 1888/10.

G. P. Brown, All Saints Parish Church, Driffield (Beverley, 1971)

L. A. S. Butler (ed.), The Yorkshire Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874). Y. A. Soc. Record series 159 (Woodbridge, 2007)

J. E. Morris, The East Riding of Yorkshire. 2nd ed. (1906) 1919, 139.

D. Neave, A short history of the parish church of St Mary, Little Driffield in the diocese of York. N.d. n.p.

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

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