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St Hilda, Sherburn, Yorkshire, East Riding

(54°11′3″N, 0°31′49″W)
SE 960 775
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now North Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
medieval St Hilda
now St Hilda
  • Rita Wood
19 Feb, 26 Feb 2004

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Sherburn is a village about 11 miles SW of Scarborough; it is known historically as Sherburn in Harford (or Herford) Lythe and is not to be confused with Sherburn-in-Elmet (West Riding of Yorkshire). The building is quite a large church for the area and consists of an aisled nave, S porch, chancel and W tower.

Romanesque sculptural elements are found externally on the S doorway and in the simple 12thc windows located in the S wall of the tower. Inside, there is a Romanesque high chancel arch, a pillar piscina and a cylindrical font.


Domesday Book records that the manor was a 'waste', and in 1066 and 1086 Thomas of Bayeux, archbishop of York, held it. It also states that ‘M and B. In Langton, Kennythorpe, Burdale, Raisthorpe, Sherburn and East Heslerton… [are] two churches and two priests, and one mill and 30 acres of meadow…’.


Exterior Features



Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches



Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae


The church was restored and extended during the restoration of 1909-12 begun by Charles Hodgson Fowler and completed after his death by Wilfred Holt Brierley.

Doorway remnants: it is unusual to see masks, rather than beakheads, biting a roll moulding. The masks resemble some corbels in the Riding, more than any masks on voussoirs with which I am familiar. It is also unusual to have both masks and beakheads on the same doorway in Yorkshire (I can think of only Healaugh and Wales that have both). There is no way of knowing from the restoration what form the doorway may have had originally, but it is unlikely it had only orders of masks and beakheads; at least one order of chevrons, or their equivalent, would be usual. Joseph Morris (1919, 287) mentions in his list of things to see a ‘(5) blocked nave N door’, but that was probably written for the first edition (1906), published before the restoration (1909-12) and never revised.

Font: the lack of setting-out skills is common on the fonts in the Riding with grid patterns. The simplified treatment of the foliage is comparable to the patterns on the capitals of the S side of the chancel arch.

Piscina: Joseph Morris mentioned the piscina as being ‘(?E.E.) in exterior of N side of nave’ (1919, 287). Dr Martyn Pedley saw the font and piscina on 24 March 2004; he thought they were in the same stone, a Middle Jurassic sandstone.

A beautiful wooden screen of 1913 hides the capitals of the chancel arch from the W, but the rood and two standing figures (1913) combine with the arch and chancel lighting very effectively. A loose stone recently found is carved with an encircled cross and central rosette (illustrated in Site Images); this has a range of possible dates and might be compared to a reset stone in a buttress at Boynton, but on balance it seems most likely to be recent, and a finial.


J. E. Morris, The East Riding of Yorkshire, 2nd ed., London, 1919.

N. Pevsner and D. Neave, Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd. ed., London, 1995, 679.

Victoria History of the County of Yorkshire, vol II, ed. W. Page, 1912 (reprinted 1974), 212, 277.