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

St Martin, Hayton, Yorkshire, East Riding

(53°54′13″N, 0°45′6″W)
SE 821 460
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
medieval St Martin
now St Martin
  • Rita Wood
03 Jun 2004, 10 Feb 2016

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=6409.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.


Hayton is just off the Roman road from Brough to York, and about 3km from the Wolds escarpment.

The church has a chancel with a chamber off the N side, a nave with a N aisle, a W tower, and a S porch. Outside, it looks ‘very much of the C14 with Victorian restorations’ (Pevsner & Neave 1995, 451). Inside, there are several twelfth-century features: a simple round-headed arch and a plain doorway off the chancel, with part of a decorated string course reset between them on the N side; a pristine run of corbels seen from the N aisle; and a N arcade of c.1170, also with sculpture.


Hayton was a berewick of Pocklington. This had belonged to Morcar, then the king; ‘W. Perci’ was also a landholder in the Domesday Survey (VCH II, 321).

The college of St. Mary and the Holy Angels, York, later known as St Sepulchre’s, was given this church in its endowment by Archbishop Roger de Pont l’Éveque between 1154 and 1161 (VCH III, 383). The foundation was for ‘clerici’.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features



Interior Decoration


Raine (1873) notes a former dedication to St Peter.

N arcade There are Transitional features, for which ‘1170 seems the latest acceptable date’, Pevsner & Neave 1995, 451. Morris 1919, 178, comments that the responds ‘look much earlier [than the rest], but this, we suppose, is unlikely.’ However, the jambs are chamfered, and have chamfer stops usually given dates in the 1170s also; the same forms recur in the arch in the N wall of the chancel.

Motifs of capitals and impost Pier 1, S face, central motif: the leaf form on the left is disorderly, and unfamiliar to this sculptor, but it is common elsewhere in the county, for example, on the doorway at Stillingfleet, order 3. He pierces holes where beading would be too fine to cut accurately or easily, but beading and small domes often have pierced holes in the centre: the series of holes, then, seems to be essential to the patterns. Small motifs are arranged along the impost, and varied - nailhead (a lazy derivative of beading), radially-faceted domes and pierced and fluted domes. These are very like the selection of motifs on the N arcade at Goodmanham. Impost of Pier 1: Sliced billet or a variant of nailhead, compare labels of doorways at Harswell and Thorngumbald. Faceted domed stars were used on the exterior SW angle of the tower at Kirkburn. Pier 1, SW angle: the three-quarters star is something like those at Bishop Wilton on the impost of the S doorway.

The imagery of the N arcade is made up of stars, foliage and a few heads. The motifs on the imposts are star-like in that they are radiant forms, and many will be seen to have a central pierced hole, a common feature in a range of star patterns. On the bell of the capitals, foliage is the most frequent and most varied of the motifs. This context of stars and foliage suggests the new life of heaven, and this context would suit the four heads. The man’s head looks down at the people in the nave, as if from a place in heaven. Not only Pocklington but Tournai comes to mind here: the figure said to be of a stonemason who fell during building - yet he smiles. The beakhead and the two animal masks (perhaps also evil spirits) sprout foliage, possibly representing the resurrection as life out of death. The congregation standing in the nave was thus presented with images of a future life up in Paradise.

Arches in chancel N wall Arch 1: similar large openings in this position have been seen at Rillington, where it has scallop capitals and a pointed arch, and at Sutton-upon-Derwent. The chamfer stop suggests a later date than might have been suspected from the simple impost; it is also used on the responds of the N arcade. Pevsner and Neave (1995, 451) suggest the arches have been reset, which may be so, but the decorated string-course reset nearby cannot be stylistically associated with the arches. The string-courses would have a date more like that of the corbels. Apart from the imposts, Arch 2 could be of any period.

Reset string-course The design recalls one of the two patterns used for string-course on the tower at Everingham. There the units of the pattern are definitely diamonds. The string course at Everingham church has two profiles, with a different diamond pattern on each.

Traces of Piscina The traces observed by Morris, and the fact that the chamber has post-Reformation wall paintings on its N wall, combine to suggest this was once a chapel. A wall piscina would be at least some decades later than the date of the string-course reset nearby. Although the N wall of the chamber is continuous with that of the N aisle, there are no corbels preserved on the chancel N wall; probably the chapel was contemporary with the altered chancel. The exterior wall fabric was not checked.


Frances Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications: or, England’s Patron Saints, Volume 3, London 1899, 146.

G. Lawton, Collectio rerum ecclesiasticarum de diocesi Eboracensi; or, collections relative to churches and chapels within the Diocese of York. To which are added collections relative to churches and chapels within the diocese of Ripon, New edition, London 1842.

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

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

J. Raine, 'The Dedications of the Yorkshire Churches', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 2 (1873), 180-92.

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

Victoria History of the County of York, III, ed. W. Page, 1913 (reprinted 1974).