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St John the Baptist, Knaresborough (ch), Yorkshire, West Riding

(54°0′34″N, 1°28′19″W)
Knaresborough (ch)
SE 347 572
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now North Yorkshire
  • Rita Wood
23 March 1999, 08 Mar 2010

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Knaresborough is 4 miles E of Harrogate, North Yorkshire. The large church stands on much the same level as the castle above the gorge of the river Nidd. The church would seem to be linked to the layout of the town, rather than an adjunct of the castle.

The compact plan has aisled 4-bay nave with S porch; a central tower enclosed within a further bay of the nave; chancel with N and S chapel and NE vestry.

Of the twelfth-century church, only parts of the early twelfth-century chancel walls remain, and parts of the later piers of the crossing and archways by the transepts. The chancel walls have been cut into, and no old windows remain. Lunn 1870 describes the church just before restoration, which was completed by 1872. The four piers supporting the tower were raised and largely remade at this time. Sculpture consists of a string course, reset fragments and two or three capitals of the crossing.


Gibson writing in 1923 says the church is mentioned as belonging to Nostell Priory in 1114.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

String courses

Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches
Nave arches

Interior Decoration


Reset fragment C may be the stone mentioned in the anonymous Illustrated Handbook of 1893, which says on p.34 “Inside the altar rails in the north-east corner is a stone bearing a Trinitarian cross, said to have been brought from the Priory.” This may be just hearsay, and it could simply be a consecration cross.


A. A. Gibson, 'The Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Knaresborough', Journal of the British Archaeological Association New Series 29, part II (1923), pp. 79-83.

A. Kellett, Historic Knaresborough (Otley, 1991).

Anon., Illustrated Handbook and Official Guide to Knaresborough (1893).

P. Leach and N. Pevsner, Yorkshire West Riding: Leeds, Bradfordand the North (Yale, 2009).

J. R. Lunn, The Ecclesiology of the Rural Deanery of Knaresborough (York, 1870).