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St Giles, Goxhill, Yorkshire, East Riding

(53°53′9″N, 0°11′54″W)
TA 185 448
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
medieval St Giles and St Giles
now St Giles
  • Rita Wood
27 April 2006

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Feature Sets

Goxhill was once a village but is now reduced to a farmhouse and buildings. The medieval church was largely rebuilt in 1786, the tower in 1817, the church again rebuilt in 1840, and the tower both repaired in 1860 and more recently. It is ‘a plain late Georgian building with Gothick details’ (Pevsner & Neave 1995). It has nave, chancel and W tower.

There is a restored cylindrical font ‘half renewed’. There are no other Romanesque remains.


Morcar’s manor at 1066 went to Drew de Bevrere by the time of the Domesday Book.

A church existed at Goxhill by the early thirteenth century, it was a rectory and was assessed for tax in 1291 at £5.





The font is not mentioned in Morris 1919, but faculty papers include a letter from the vicar, the Rev. Walter Holmes, dated 22nd May 1939, saying ‘We have in Goxhill church at the present moment two fonts, one a small one that was placed here before the old Saxon font had been discovered and [?rescued] and repaired, it had been lying for years in an adjacent farm yard! May Smith of Aldborough have the small font for his mission Church, he will pay for a faculty if necessary – perhaps you will let me have a line about the matter…’ (Borthwick Institute Fac. 1939/2/29).

A letter from the Secretary of the PCC, dated 29th July 1939, says ‘the font in question is a Victorian marble one and is not required at Goxhill where there is a very fine Saxon font.’ Subsequently, a faculty for the transfer of the small Victorian font to Aldborough for West Newton chapel of ease was granted. Details of the 'repair' of the present font have not been found; the old surface must have remained largely legible, but too rough to be retained. Regarding the modern support, the scallop motif with foliage might have been inspired by the font at Cowlam.

Cylindrical fonts are common in the Wolds, many of them are patterned. This one differs from the others in that the patterning round the drum is not uniform but mixed, changing from one pattern into another without either regular divisions or spaces.

The patterns used are a selection of those widely used for heaven: the Tree of Life, the circles with starry centres and the trellis ground. A line of interlaced circles are usually found as a firmament (for, example, along the bottom of a tympanum), and it may be relevant that they are curved dome-wise here. The pattern is used at the rim of the font at Kirkburn along with others, again to indicate a firmament (see Wood 2003a, 40, 53-4). For the insistent variety, compare Bessingby font, which has a riot of patterns and a tree, also a double-bodied lion, all arranged on an arcade.

Leaves of the Tree of Life resemble leaves at Fridaythorpe above the chancel arch and on the font at Cowlam. The branches of the tree snake about as if a realistic tree was imagined, or as if caught up in the circularity of the adjacent patterns; they might perhaps be recalling something glimpsed in a manuscript, for example the Perindeus tree illustrated in White 1954, 160.

The patterns in medallions recall the font at Weaverthorpe. The trellis pattern is more acute here than on other fonts (e.g. Bainton, Flamborough): the pattern does not usually weave.


Borthwick Institute faculty papers: Fac. 1939/2/29

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

A History of the County of York: East Riding, Volume 7 (Holderness Wapentake, north and middle sections), Victoria County History, London, 2002.

T. H. White, The Book of Beasts, London 1954.

R. Wood, “The Augustinians and the Romanesque Sculpture at Kirkburn Church”, East Yorkshire Historian 4 (2003), pp. 3-59.