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All Saints, Bubwith, Yorkshire, East Riding

(53°49′1″N, 0°55′12″W)
SE 712 362
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
  • Rita Wood
13 Jun 2003, 05 Aug 2015, 12th Aug 2015

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The churchyard is bordered on the SW and the S by the river Derwent, which is still tidal here. However, the river is deep down in its channel and so it is hidden in the luxuriant growth on its banks which can hardly be seen from the churchyard. The riverside once had a wharf and a warehouse nearby. There is an 18th-century bridge which spans the river to the N.

The church is composed of an aisled nave, a long chancel with a N chapel, and a W tower all of a Gothic styles. These enclose a possibly 12thc nave and its surviving chancel arch.

The chancel arch, of three orders and an ornamented label, is a lively work but suffering from damp which is forcing iron stain out of the stone. The E wall of the nave is something of a jumble, which might explain the damp. Remains of windows in the wall between the nave and the chancel, higher than the chancel roof, are noted in Pevsner and Neave 1995, 359. They are a loose capital, and two fragments reset in the chancel wall, which may have come to light during the 1894 restoration, when at least part of the S aisle wall was taken down. Part of the corbel table of the N nave wall remains in situ in the N aisle, but the corbels themselves are broken away. There is an uncommon string-course on the chancel N wall.


William de Winchester, canon of York, was a rector at Bubwith 1138-43 (Gilby and Henley 1979, 17). Gilbert Tyson, standard bearer to William the Conqueror, gave 2 carucates of land to Selby Abbey. (Lawton 1842, 331).

Bubwith was a rectory of two medieties; in the time of Henry II, one mediety was given by Guaisn de Bubwith to the Dean and Chapter of York (Lawton 1842, 331).


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

String courses
Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Interior Decoration


Loose Sculpture


The church was restored in 1894-5 by Hodgson Fowler and Ewan Christian. For the original position of the nave W wall, 'immediately W of the westernmost pier' as uncovered in the restoration. Bilson 1900.

John Bilson led an excursion to Bubwith in 1899, and in his notes (1890, 504) he recorded that "the Rev. W. O. F. Campbell, who was vicar of Bubwith when the church was recently restored, and was present at our meeting, informed us that the foundation of part of the original west wall of the nave was found immediately west of the the westernmost pier." Bilson describes how Bishop Nicholas Bubwith funded the west tower, and how at the same time the nave was extended a bay to the west, and the respond piers moved to the new W wall. Bilson dates the arcades to the 'end of twelfth century', but they retain no Romanesque features and Pevsner describes them as 13th-century.

Pevsner (1972, 202-3) points out that the Perp. builders matched the capitals of the new piers to the 13thc arcade, but made Perp. bases to them.

Loose capital:

Stuart Harrison thought the capital could have been for the mid-shaft of a belfry window. It is therefore possible that there was a twelfth-century W tower which was taken down in the Perp. alterations, and that the loose capital was on a belfry opening. If there was no tower, bells could have been hung on a bell-cote on the W wall of the nave, but as they survive they do not have elaborate capitals. Surviving towers often have waterleaf capitals, i.e., are probably a little later than the Bubwith capital, but at Weaverthorpe (YE) and Campsall (YW) they are single-scallop; other patterned capitals are not known in the region.

Neither Bilson 1890 nor Morris 1919 mention the capital, perhaps wisely, but it is described in Pevsner and Neave 1995.


The small window, of which only the windowhead survives in the nave E wall, was one of a pair, as is seen from inside. These window-openings have been compared to windows in a similar position at Huggate church, where they have been over-restored, so the original form is not certain.

Chancel arch : Fieldworker

Similarities in the chancel arch with work at West Riding churches come to mind. The criss-crossed domes in the slighty concave chamfer of the capitals are both reminiscent of the same at Brayton. The sunken shields (‘inverted mushrooms’) and even the spirals on the capitals might be compared to capitals of the chancel arch at Kirk Bramwith. The pattern of the little arches on the label is used on the impost of a third order capital at Healaugh. At Healaugh it is in two layers. At Birkin (with similarities to Brayton), a single layer of the blank arches is used on a capital of the doorway. Elsewhere, a related pattern used on voussoirs has each repeat divided in the centre of the little arch so that when united at the joint the arches become pointed. This pattern is used, for example, at Kilnwick Percy on the first order of the doorway, on the tower arch at Etton, on reset voussoirs at Fangfoss (all YE) and at Edlington (YW) on the first order of the chancel arch. The pattern has nothing to do with beakhead: it is a pattern based on a very simple blank arcading. Something like it is used in Burgundy (Charlieu). Healaugh has beaded woven patterns on the chancel arch pillars; the pattern is used on a capital of the chancel arch at Liverton (YN) and on a doorway at Tutbury (Staffs).

Many characteristic patterns present at this site suggests that Bubwith had some contemporaneity with the earlier churches of the ‘Yorkshire School’. This connection seems to have existed at least among the builders and sculptors who were of a workaday-to-good-to-promising level. The chancel string course is perhaps outside that connection, resembling the string course on the plinth of the oldest parts of Selby Abbey, which itself is likened to work at Durham cathedral.


J. Bilson, ‘Notes, LXXI Y. A. J., 71 (1900), p. 504.

Faculty Papers, Borthwick Institute Fac. 1894/11

S. Gilby and A. J. Henley, Bubwith: an East Yorkshire parish. North Ferriby, 1979.

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

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

A History of the County of York East Riding, ii. London 1974.

A History of the County of York East Riding, iii. Oxford 1976.