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St Mary, Masham, Yorkshire, North Riding

(54°13′14″N, 1°39′17″W)
SE 226 806
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, North Riding
now North Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • Jeffrey Craine
September 2010

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The present church is a substantial building situated in the SE corner of a large market square. It comprises a nave and chancel, N and S aisle, N chapel, S porch and W tower. The Romanesque parts are mainly associated with the tower, including the bell openings, corbel table and doorway. There are two carved fragments conserved within the church.


Like much of the land in this region, the manor of Masham was granted to Count Alan Rufus in 1086. During the 12thc, land in this area appears to have been owned by Roger de Mowbray, who founded the Augustinian Priory at nearby Newburgh in 1145, on land that had been granted to his father, Robert, shortly after the Conquest. There is mention of a church at Masham as early as 1086, as it descended with the manor. Though the church was closely associated with Newburgh Priory, via Roger de Mowbray, it does not appear to have been entirely within the priory’s ownership. The existence of a substantial fragment of an Anglo-Saxon shaft, conserved in the church grounds, suggests an important church existed here prior to the 11thc.


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

Loose Sculpture


The lower three stages of the tower form part of a unified structure. The walls of the tower are very thick and each stage is slightly recessed, suggesting that it was constructed around the middle of the 12thc. The form of the capitals in the W doorway, as well as those in the bell-openings would seem to support this date. There was a comprehensive restoration of the church between 1860 and 1865, during which the interior of the church was significantly remodelled. There has been some external restoration, including the shafts in the bell-openings and possibly the inner shafts in the W doorway. Glynne (289-90) visited this church in April 1842, well before the restoration work started and his description of the tower corresponds to its present appearance. His description does not indicate any internal features which might explain the origin of the fragments and it must be concluded that they were part of the fabric of the building altered to accommodate rebuilding in the 14th and 15thc.


Sir Steven Glynne, The Yorkshire Church Notes (1825-1874), ed. Lawrence Butler, Yorkshire Archaeological Society 2007, 289-90.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Yorkshire, The North Riding, Harmondsworth 1966, 240-42.

Victoria County History, York, North Riding, Vol. 2, ed. William Page, London 1923, 323-32.