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St John the Baptist, Yedingham, Yorkshire, East Riding

(54°12′15″N, 0°37′56″W)
SE 893 796
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now North Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
  • Rita Wood
26 Sep, 10th Oct 2007

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A small church of nave and chancel situated close to a bridge over the river Derwent, which is the boundary of the East Riding with the North Riding. The building dates from the 1862-4 restoration, the nave is by Tuke of Bradford and the chancel by J. C. Teal of Malton to a design by Butterfield (Atkinson 1994, 26); there are no plans at the Borthwick Institute. Windows in the nave are in some cases round-headed but have been refaced or even more radically embellished. A variety of stone types have been used.

The nave S doorway is said to contain 12thc. work; there is a circular font with moulded profile; various less distinctive parts may be re-used.


The name Yedingham does not appear in the Domesday Book, but land held by the Count of Mortain in ‘Eslerton’ (that is, East or West Heslerton), was given to Robert de Bruis after the completion of the survey and it is stated this would have included part of Yedingham (VCH II, 227, note 49).

Anketin de Heslarton gave the church of 'Yeddingham' to Yedingham priory, over the river in the North Riding; this was confirmed 31 Henry III. The church was appropriated to the priory in 1231, see Dugdale (1655) 1846, 276, charter VII.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

String courses

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches




Regarding the doorway, according to Pevsner and Neave (1995, 770) and Pevsner (1972, 375), ‘ancient are two late Norman capitals belonging to the S doorway, and the (very uncommon) blank lobing of the arch.’ However, it seems to the fieldworker that the only reliably original stonework may be some voussoirs of the second order.

The capitals of the doorway and some of the arch are in a grey stone which is not familiar as a building stone in the medieval period locally, but is used a lot at this site; it has minute flakes of mica. This grey stone is seen, for example, in a large block, to the height of three courses (0.56 m), in the pilaster at the SE corner of the nave, this block is 0.28 m deep on the E face - too large to be medieval and likely to have been introduced by the restorers. The window adjacent to the doorway has small waterleaf capitals in a warm light brown sandstone which are similar in form to those on the doorway. Shafted windows would be unusual in a simple church like this, even late in the 12thc. - but pretty for the nineteenth. The rest of the doorway and the font might be dateable to the late 12th or early 13thc.; the arch at the chancel would suit.

The secular settlement of Yedingham is something of a mystery, with perhaps the main settlement at times being on the north bank of the Derwent and related to the priory. The parish of Yedingham once extended over a much wider area than at present (Atkinson 1994, 26), also ‘the Yeddingham of today was in earlier times called Yeddingham across the water, and even as late as 1842 the extent of the Parish is given as 1150 acres, yet at the present time we reckon only 550 acres, as available for the purposes of rates and taxes’ (Atkinson 1994, 10, quoting an earlier vicar).


R. C. Atkinson, Yedingham, Yeddingham or should it be Yeadingham?, no publisher 1994. Pages 1-25 are taken from manuscript notes attributed to the Rev. Richard Cleator Atkinson, vicar from 1889-1912.

J. E. Burton, The Monastic Order in Yorkshire 1069-1215, Cambridge 1999.

W. Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum: a history of the abbies and other monasteries, hospitals, frieries and cathedrals… originally published in Latin… 6 vols in 8. London 1846. First published 1655.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, Harmondsworth 1972, 375.

N. Pevsner and D. Neave, The Building of England: Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd. ed. London 1995.

J. Raine, ‘The Dedications of the Yorkshire churches’, Yorkshire Archaeology Journal 2, (1873), 180-192.

A History of the County of Yorkshire. Vol. 3 (Ecclesiastical History; Religious Houses; Political History; Social and Economic History) Victoria County History, London 1913.