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All Saints, Great Driffield, Yorkshire, East Riding

(54°0′28″N, 0°26′31″W)
Great Driffield
TA 022 580
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
  • Rita Wood
25 August 2004

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The spacious church has an aisled nave, chancel and N chapel. ‘The mid-c15 W tower is a show-piece, 110 ft high (34 metres)…’ (Pevsner & Neave 1995, 440).There is a late 19th century complex of rooms off the chapel. Restoration 1878-80 by G. G. Scott junior, using Temple Moore. During the restoration, a number of Romanesque and later 12th century fragments were found.

The font has been dated to c.1180.

The S and N doorways and the N arcade are of limited relevance to the Corpus except in that they are round-headed. The S doorway has many concave mouldings, keels and dogtooth. The smaller N doorway has two plain and chamfered orders and dogtooth on the hoodmould. The N arcade is very similar to the S as a piece of architecture, but it has no chamfer stops, which are the entertaining feature of the S arcade and might be seen as looking back to Romanesque habits of variation in motif.

The round-headed windows in the clerestory are above the spandrels not the arches.... and may belong to 'a previous aisleless building' (Pevsner & Neave 1995, 440). Chamfer stops on S arcade, the font, and the loose fragments are relevant to the Corpus.


There had been four berewicks totalling 23 carucates at Driffield. Morcar held this for one manor, and the pre-Conquest value was £40. At the time of the Domesday Survey the king held it and it was waste. A list of soc lands were also waste (VCH II, 197). The count of Mortain had a smaller estate (VCH II, 321) with no mention of waste.

Domesday Survey records two churches at Driffield, that is to say, at Great Driffield and Little Driffield. Barley (1938, 14), writes that stones marked, probably by fire, had been laid bare in the Victorian restoration, and attributes this to the Harrowing of the North.

Henry I gave the church of Driffield to the Archbishop of York. This was some time between 1100 and 1108. At a period prior to 1166, Driffield became a prebend of York.

'Great Driffield was an important medieval settlement ... with... a royal castle that existed in the early C13. The motte of the castle partially survives as Moot Hill at the north end of the town. The medieval market place was presumably at the present Cross Hill' (Pevsner & Neave 1995, 439-40).


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration


Interior Features



Interior Decoration




Loose Sculpture


Morris (1919, 138-9), describes the doorways, arcades and font as Early English, some ‘very early’; he calls the arcades Transitional or Early English. The S arcade is of similar date to the S doorway (c.1200) while the N arcade was rebuilt 1878-80. Morris describes the doorways as having deep rich mouldings, dogtooth on the hoodmould, and calls them early in style for Early English and strongly Transitional.

Chamfer stops on S arcade: the forms of the stops are not Romanesque, but their random variety could be. Chamfers were not used until late in the 12th century in this region. Other places with stops are Brandesburton (ornamental) and Rufforth (YW; pyramidal).

Font: the rim is noticeably narrower than for the usual East Riding cylindrical font. On the other hand, the depth is more than adequate for a baby, that is, it is not shallow like the other font with four supports seen at Pocklington. Also, at Pocklington the supporting capitals were separate from the bowl, here they are integral with it. The cross is reminiscent of a cross incised on the possibly Caen stone font at Thorngumbald.


K. G. Allison, Victoria County History: A History of the County of York East Riding II (General volume, including Domesday Book) 1912, reprinted 1974, pp. 197 & 321.

M. W. Barley, ed., The History of Great and Little Driffield. Hull c.1938, pp. 14 (assembled by an adult education class; typescript in the Minster Library, York.)

G. P. Brown, All Saints Parish Church, Driffield. Beverley, 1971.

J. T. Lang, et al., York and Eastern Yorkshire. Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, III. Oxford, 1991.

G. Lawton, Collectio Rerum Ecclesiasticarum de Dioecesi Eborancensi, 1842, pp. 294.

J. E. Morris, The East Riding of Yorkshire. 2nd ed. (1906), 1919, pp. 138-139.

N. Pevsner & D. Neave, Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd. ed. London, 1995, pp. 439-440.