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St John the Evangelist, Folkton, Yorkshire, East Riding

(54°12′4″N, 0°23′8″W)
TA 054 796
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now North Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
  • Rita Wood
19th Feb, 26 Apr 2004

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Folkton village is at the foot of the Wolds looking north across the vale of Pickering towards Scarborough and the coast. The church has a broad plain W tower, nave and chancel. The N wall of the nave and chancel are continuous (compare Etton). In about 1771, the nave was reduced in width by (it is said) 10 feet on the S side. An old roof line of the nave, seen on the E wall of the tower is to the N of the present apex. The chancel was shortened ‘by half’ in 1772. In the 1890s work concerning the tower was done, and windows in the S wall were updated (Robinson, after 1999, 3-4; see also Borthwick Institute Faculty 1892/26 where there is a plan).

Romanesque remains are the blocked N doorway and a length of string course on the N wall; the jambs and capitals of the chancel arch; a font and a loose corbel.


In 1086, the king held one estate at Folkton, later it passed to the Gant family. A mesne lordship was held by the Greystock family, early members of which were Walter son of Ives and his son Ranulph (fl. 1162x75). The advowson was with the Greystock family. Land in Folkton was granted to Rievaulx in 1158, other communities also received gifts of land in Folkton (VCHER ii, 166-7).

A rector of Folkton is mentioned between 1162 and 1175. There was a chapel at nearby Flotmanby (mentioned once) which seems to have been dependent on Folkton church.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

String courses

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches



Loose Sculpture


Blocked N doorway

The whole N side of the church, with the doorway, is illustrated Poole, 1848, 146. Morris (1919, 159-60) notes ‘a blocked Norm. doorway remains, with zig-zag’.

The forms are reminiscent of the chancel arch, which is without its arches so that the presence of chevron moulding on a doorway suggests it would have been used there too. It is slightly unusual for a N doorway to be so elaborated, perhaps the patron or lord of the manor lived that side.

String course

G. A. Poole mentions the window has been inserted into a Norman stringcourse. The nave N wall is thus original to some height, and seems (from the 1892 Faculty plan) to be continuous with that of the chancel: this was also the plan at Etton. A basic rectangular church that has a chancel arch.

Chancel arch.

The hare is very lifelike. Its big eyes, watching for danger, and the long ears listening for it, would have been well known in fields and wolds locally. The rabbit was (probably at this period) kept in special warrens and was not native. The hare is a subject of a moral tale, being something that is in danger and needs to run to a hole when pressed: it is a figure for the believer in the world; he needs to run to the safety of the church.


A cable pattern in the middle of the cylinder is not often found. The circular base is seen, for example, at Yapham; perhaps at Kellington (YW). Cable pattern was marked out by delicate incised lines but not cut on a capital of the chancel arch at Flamborough.


Borthwick Institute, Fac. 1892/26 with plans of present and proposed outlines.

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

N. Pevsner & D. Neave, Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd. ed. London, 1995, pp. 423.

G. A. Poole, Churches of Scarborough, Filey and the Neighbourhood. London & Scarborough, 1848.

M. Robinson, A Walk round St John the Evangelist Church, Folkton. After 1999.

A History of the County of York East Riding, ii. London 1974.