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All Saints, Thorpe Bassett, Yorkshire, East Riding

(54°8′57″N, 0°41′16″W)
Thorpe Bassett
SE 858 734
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now North Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
  • Rita Wood
17 April 2007, 24 Jun 2008, 02 Aug 2018

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The village of Thorpe Bassett is about six miles east of Malton and lies under the Wolds escarpment. It has a small church with a chancel, nave, N aisle and W bellcote, which was thoroughly restored between 1879 and 1880 (Pevsner and Neave, 1995, 723). Borthwick Institute Fac. 1878/2 has a plan of the proposed work but not one of the old church. As part of the restoration, the chancel arch and windows were refaced, and the N aisle was rebuilt on the old foundations, unblocking an early 13thc N arcade. A vestry and porch were added.

The S doorway, three reset stones, and a plain cylindrical font belong to the Romanesque period.


The King and the count of Mortain were the landholders in Domesday Book (VCH II, 324).


Exterior Features


Interior Features

Interior Decoration





Doorway: from the odd shapes of the voussoirs at the top of both 1st and 2nd orders, it appears likely that a formerly round-headed doorway was made pointed at some time. The 1st order has a deep chamfer, and the wear and tooling on both face and chamfer look about equal, so the doorway could have been remodelled in the 13thc or 14thc. Reshaping the modest doorway at Thorpe Bassett merely to suit fashion would seem unlikely, so perhaps the fracture of a tympanum or lintel made it necessary. The replacement of a tympanum by a new arch would account for the difference in stone types in the arch and jambs of the 1st order. In the soffit of the 2nd order, against the 1st order, a strip of about 40mm of stone is discoloured in comparison with the outer part of the soffit, and might indicate contact with a tympanum. A plan (Borthwick Institute Fac. 1878/2) shows the area around the doorway is to be ‘taken down and rebuilt’, although the fabric of the doorway is to stay the same; some parts of the jambs are replacements of that period.

N Arcade: Morris (1919) calls the N arcade Early English or late Transitional, and compares it to work on the doorway. He was probably thinking of the chamfered and pointed 1st order of the doorway, which, as discussed above, would be later work than the 2nd order.

The reset headstones (i) and (iii): the complete form of such headstones is illustrated by several from Adel (YW) in Ryder (1991, 9). The date suggested for those is no later than the early 12thc; compare also pieces displayed at Dewsbury Minster. Such headstones commonly have patterns based on concentric circles or on the cross. At Boynton (YE) a small headstone is reset in a buttress of the tower; this is complete with beaded cross-head and shaft, and more definitely a 12thc object.

Reset stone (ii): item (ii) is mentioned by Lang (1991, 115) as either a cross-head or a gable finial, and compared to a possibly 11thc example from York. It is not so very different in size from the other two stones, and may perhaps be a headstone too. The rayed star and bored hole at the centre are features present in star motifs in Romanesque patternmaking (Wood, 2001, 5-8). Compare also a pre-Conquest cross on a tomb slab at Kirkdale (Lang, 1991, 162, ill. 558); similar at Lastingham and Middleton (Lang, 1991, 169, ills. 582, 583; 187, ill. 694). The three pre-Conquest examples are dated to the late 8thc or early 9thc but the motif is probably ultimately derived from Roman work (compare with a piece at Hexham abbey). (Fieldworker)


Borthwick Institute faculty papers: Fac. 1878/2.

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

G. Lawton, Collectio rerum ecclesiasticarum de diocesi Eboracensi, London, 1842.

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

N. Pevsner and D. Neave, Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, London, 1995.

P. Ryder, Medieval Cross Slab Grave Covers in West Yorkshire, Leeds, 1991.

Thorpe Bassett All Saints Guide, 2nd edition, n.d., current 2007.

Victoria History of the County of York, vol II, ed. W. Page, 1912 (reprinted 1974).