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St Peter, Hartshead, Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°42′20″N, 1°43′49″W)
SE 179 233
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now West Yorkshire
medieval St Peter
now St Peter
  • Barbara English
  • Rita Wood
14 Nov 2010

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The church stands in an open position between Hightown and Hartshead; there are few buildings nearby apart from Church Farm. The building, in sandstone, is largely a neo-Norman rebuild of 1881, comprising an aisled nave, porch, chancel and W tower; there are no faculty papers at the Borthwick Institute.

The tower is thought to be 12thc, perhaps because it is unbuttressed (Pevsner 1967, 254). The nave doorway and the chancel arch have Romanesque sculpture. 12thc stone may be reused in the modern font, and there is an old font, but neither of these has sculpture.


Hartshead is recorded in Domesday Book as part of the Lacy fee (Williams, 1992, f. 318) with no mention of a church or priest. The advowsons of the churches of Halifax, Wakefield and Dewsbury, and the chapelries of Hartshead and Horbury were given to Lewes Priory c.1120, confirmed c.1145. The manor of Dewsbury remained with the Warennes (Pobjoy and Pobjoy 1972, 17).

The Revd. Patrick Brontë was vicar here between 1810 and 1815.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches




Taylor (1875, 359) speculates that Hartshead may have remained only a chapelry for so long because no 'considerable family' was resident within its limits.

Ryder (1993, 34) compares the responds of the chancel arch to a reused arch at Tong (West Riding). Morris (1919, 256) says the chancel arch and doorway are original and that the E wall of the chancel seems old; he was less certain about the tower arch as it was covered with plaster.

Morris (1919) considers that the modern font is on an ancient base, probably Norman. Nearby he saw the bowl of the Restoration font.

Pobjoy and Pobjoy (1972, 19) say that the old font basin, dated 1662 and located under the tower, is made from a Norman pillar base. However, no tooling is obvious; they suggest the base of the original font survives as part of the support for the current font. It is possible the Victorian restorers would have used token pieces of old work in their new font, but there is no early sculpture and little tooling.

Although much of the chancel arch is patched with a dark Victorian cement, the surface looks remarkably fresh and presumably has been retooled; only the bases look untouched. On the doorway, the bases are very worn, and in different stone from their surroundings; the shafts are good and clean but patched, so may be trustworthy. The exposed site may mean that a porch of some kind would have always been provided. (fieldworker)

The pattern of parallel lines forming saltire crosses, used in the chancel arch, has analogues at Beeston, Leeds and East Ardsley (both West Riding). Aughton (East Riding) comes to mind for the chevrons-and-pellets combination on the label of the chancel arch and imposts of the doorway. The slightly concave ‘belts’ on the bases of the chancel arch, and the zigzag on the bases of the doorway, resemble forms on bases in Selby Abbey, S arcade, piers 1 and 2; it is fairly common in the region. The series of narrow chevron mouldings on the voussoirs of the doorway recalls work in the North Riding at churches on the edge of the Moors.


J. E. Morris, The West Riding of Yorkshire, 2nd ed. (1906) 1919.

N. Pevsner and E. Radcliffe, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire: West Riding, Harmondsworth, 1967, 254.

H. N. Pobjoy and M. Pobjoy, The Story of the Ancient Parish of Hartshead cum Clifton, Driffield, 1972.

P. F. Ryder, Medieval Churches of West Yorkshire, West Yorkshire Archaeology Service, Wakefield, 1993.

R. V. Taylor, The Ecclesiae Leodienses, or Historial and Architectural Studies of the Churches of Leeds and Neighbourhood, London and Leeds, 1875.

A. Williams and G.H. Martin, The Yorkshire Domesday, London, 1992.