We use cookies to improve your experience, some are essential for the operation of this site.

All Saints, Goodmanham, Yorkshire, East Riding

(53°52′35″N, 0°38′57″W)
SE 889 431
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
formerly All Hallows
medieval All Saints
now All Saints
  • Rita Wood
26 Apr, 03 May 2005, 04 Dec 2015

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=6324.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.


The village lies on a spur between two valleys in the Wolds escarpment above Market Weighton. The church is a stout building in an open position looking W, although it is not seen from the Vale.

The church has a 13thc chancel, a 12thc nave with N arcade dated to c.1190; the W tower was built from the 12thc onward. A hexagonal font is likely to be of the 13thc.

The use of the space below the tower is an unresolved curiosity. The tower was built at the same time as the nave and chancel arch. It had a W doorway, and there are traces of blind arches on the E wall; these are earlier than the present tall round-headed windows adjacent on the N and S walls. The internal doorway with tympanum would have led to a spiral stair vice in the NW angle; weakness on the N and W walls on the slope has interfered with this doorway and the exterior W doorway.

Sculpture of early 12thc decorate the S doorway, the internal doorway and the chancel arch; a W doorway of the same period can be identified; there are two reset fragments. The N arcade can be dated from the end of 12thc.


According to Bede, Goodmanham was the place where, in 627, Coifi the chief priest desecrated and fired a pagan shrine after Edwin and his council had decided in favour of the conversion to Christianity.

Various landholders are recorded in the Domesday Book: Earl Morcar, Northmann, Kolgrim and Orm held Goodmanham in 1066; in 1086 the archbishop held land as a berewick of Everingham; Nigel held a manor from Count Robert of Mortain, and a land was held by William de Coleville from Perci. Gislebert Tyson and the King were also landholders from 1086 (VCH Yorkshire, II).


Exterior Features



Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches



Interior Decoration





The church was restored by Temple Moore between 1894 and 1920 (Borthwick faculty 1894/7; Pevsner and Neave 1995, 437-8).

Subsidence It is reasonably assumed that the first, and subsequent, churches would have been built on the site of the pagan temple (Pevsner & Neave 1995, 437-8). Both tower and chancel arch show tendency to subside on the N side, but the hill is not more than usually abrupt there: might there be a infilled ditch on that side?

S doorway Sir Stephen Glynne visited the church in 1863 and said: 'Within the porch is a fine Norman doorway, with enriched chevron mouldings upon shafts, with varied capitals of sculpture, and abaci having the hollow square' (Butler 2007, 190).

W doorway and nave To judge by what can be seen of the W doorway, it would date to the first half of the 12thc, as the decoration is close to that of the S doorway and the chancel arch. The difference in width between the doorway inside and the width of the buttress might suggest that the doorway had been of two orders, and that one may be completed and hidden by the buttress. A comparable pattern is used, for example, on the outer of two orders of the reset arch at Otteringham. The W doorway is erroneously considered to be contemporary with the N arcade in Purvis (1940, 8).

Tower space Goodmanham, with its W doorway and unusual survivals in the ground level of the tower, might perhaps be a monument to investigate for the use of the tower space as a baptistery in the first half of the 12thc; it should also be considered the possibility of a sunken font basin there since a decidedly 12thc type of font is absent. If confirmed, this unusual feature could be related to the pastoral work of the Augustinians (Wood 2011, 146). Only the W doorway and the blocked arches opposite it remain of this early phase; they perhaps formed an arcade which would have included an archway into the church; the space was perhaps lit only by the blocked W window. Borthwick faculty 1894/7, "Plan no. 1, As Present" makes the room approximately 4m square. Other possible functions of this space and W doorway are for a burial ritual, as proposed by David Stocker and Peter Everson for churches in Lincolnshire; and for a Palm Sunday procession (Stocker and Everson 2006). Whatever its purpose, the early 12thc arrangement did not last long: the N and S windows that destroyed the arches were still round-headed, and this suggests that they were presumably inserted to light the lowest stage of the tower in a new way. The tower arch to the church is pointed, it has pyramidal chamfer stops of a bolder form similar to those used on the responds of the N arcade. It could be dated to early 14thc according to Pevsner and Neave (1995, 437; Purvis 1940, 8-9). The internal doorway (perhaps then on the NW angle and not blocked) would have continued to function until the corner of the tower gave way at an unknown date.

The small internal doorway with tympanum has no obvious function at present. In the Norman period small internal doorways with scale pattern lintels often lead to stairs (for example, at Garton-on-the-Wolds). Borthwick faculty 1894/7 (as above) shows the minor doorway diagonally across the NW angle, the normal position for the doorway to a stair vice. Perhaps it was moved in the subsequent work - it was proposed to block the N and S windows and open up the W doorway, but that was all dropped. Access to the upper part of the tower is now given by a wooden ladder formed of a tree trunk with sections of tree for steps (rare survival, also found at Birkin); bells are rung from the ground.

Scale pattern on chancel arch and doorway lintel Compared to the pattern as carved for the chancel arch, local opinion is that the ‘finish’ of the lintel in the tower shows it to be the product of an apprentice; the same observation could also be made of the difference between the pattern on the N and S sides of the chancel arch. The expert cut some parts of the required area and the apprentice followed on, in both cases. Scale pattern has been compared to a roof hung with rounded slates, and as symbolic of the 'roof' of the firmament (Wood 2001, 20-21). As carved on the lintel in the tower, it is not primarily a pure geometric pattern, but the concern seems to have been to show the units as overlapping, a continuous surface - it might have been an attempt to depict the all-over multidirectional 'roof' of the firmament.

N arcade Dated to c.1190 by Pevsner & Neave, the lugs, chamfer stops, nailhead and ornamented bosses resemble those seen in other late Romanesque work. There is a game played with chamfer stops at Great Driffield, on another late Romanesque arcade, and with other ornament at Hayton.

Reset beakhead voussoir It may be from the S doorway, which is likely to have been larger than what the present remains show, and could be the beakhead seen by Morris (1919, 169) on the S exterior wall of the nave. The beakhead somewhat resembles those at Bielby.

Font Considered as ‘not later than Norman’ (Purvis 1940, 9), although a hexagonal font is not characteristic of the 12thc. It is said to have been rescued from a local farmyard, a garden or a field and it is occasionally in use in preference to the adjacent ‘most ornate village font in the East Riding’ (Pevsner & Neave 1995, 437). A picture in the church shows the font in a romantic, bushy garden, with the inscription ‘Wm. Fowler Del et Fecit’. The irregular hexagonal form and simple hollow mouldings might perhaps be due to the recutting in the 13thc of a plain cylindrical font of the early 12thc - compare Ryther (North Yorkshire) for a Romanesque font up-dated. The internal dimensions and shape of the basin, untouched by any possible reshaping, are similar to many 12thc examples in the Wolds, and general dimensions are within their range. On the other hand, if, as suggested above, in the early 12thc the tower space was a baptistery with a font basin sunk in the floor, the form of the container is rather unknown, but a simple cylinder like so many other fonts that stood on a simple plinth on the floor would have been sufficient.


R. Wood, 'The Augustinians and the Romanesque font from Everingham', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 83 (2011), 112-147.

Faculty papers in Borthwick Institute, Fac. 1894/7 include plans

L. A. S. Butler, ed., The Yorkshire Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874), Y. A. Soc. Record series 159, Woodbridge, 2007.

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

N. Pevsner & D. Neave, Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd. ed., London, 1995, 437-8.

J. S. Purvis, Goodmanham church and village, York, 1940.

D. A. Stocker and P. Everson, Summoning St Michael: early Romanesque towers in Lincolnshire, Oxford, 2006.

Victoria County History: Yorkshire. II (General volume, including Domesday Book) 1912, reprinted 1974.

Victoria County History: Yorkshire. III (Ecclesiastical History; Religious Houses; Political History; Social and Economic History) 1913, reprinted 1974.

R. Wood, 'Geometric Patterns in English Romanesque Sculpture', Journal of the British Archeological Association, 154 (2001), 1-39.