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All Saints, Rudston, Yorkshire, East Riding

(54°5′39″N, 0°19′26″W)
TA 097 678
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
  • Rita Wood
06 Jul 2006

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The valley of the Gypsey Race makes an angle here, and there is a spring at the foot of the hill on which the church stands, comparable perhaps to the situation at Kirkburn. The area has remains of all settlement periods: the famous monolith, said to be the tallest standing stone in Britain, may have been erected in the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age; a Roman villa had mosaics.

The village is about 5 miles W of Bridlington Priory; the church stands relatively high, and close to the monolith, which at the nearest is 12 feet or 3.6m from the E end of the church. It has chancel, aisled nave with S porch, and W tower. The churchyard is large, and on the north side rises sharply above the road. The “rud” element in the place-name suggests a rood or cross may have been fixed to or painted on the monolith in order to Christianize an already venerated site (VCHER II, 311).

The tower is Norman for the most part, with belfry windows; there is a blocked W doorway and a tower arch, both simple, and a patterned cylindrical font (Pevsner and Neave 1995, 664).


In 1086, there were 3 estates each of 8 carucates. One was given to the count of Mortain and held by Richard Surdeval in 1086. This passed to William Peverell who granted it to St Mary’s Abbey in York between 1100 and 1122 (VCHER II, 311).

In 1066, Merlesuain held another estate; this was held by Ralph Paynel in 1086 and then passed to the Gants in the 12thc. In the mid 12thc, Malger son of Turold of Rudston gave one carucate to Bridlington Priory (VCHER II, 312-3).

The estate held by Ligulf in 1066 belonged to Uctred in 1086, soon after which it passed to Robert de Brus (VCHER II, 313).

There was a church here between 1100 and 1122, when the advowson was given to St Mary’s Abbey, York; it remained with the abbey to the Dissolution (VCHER II, 317).


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

String courses

Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches





Morris 1919 says ‘plain Norm. chancel arch’ but this is an error for tower arch.

The church was visited by Sir Stephen Glynne in 1873, after the restoration (Butler 2007, 351).

Belfry windows

The tower was heightened in the restoration under G. Fowler Jones in 1861, and ‘the whole of the belfry stage seems to be of that date’ according to VCHER II, 318. On the other hand, the windows with their ‘pierced circles’ in the tympana are treated as genuine by Pevsner and Neave (1995, 664). There is quite a bit of new stone at this level, and the corbels and corbel table are all new, but perhaps only a close inspection could settle the point about the windows.

The tower at Weaverthorpe has belfry windows of a similar construction, no proto-plate tracery but corbelling in the tympanum supporting the outer arch, with a single-scallop capital.

The church at Weaverthorpe is thought by John Bilson to be of one build, and Christopher Norton thinks it would have been built by c.1120. Considering the likeness to the structure of the belfry windows at Weaverthorpe and the unusual cross-shaped piecing of the stonework, there must be doubts about the veracity of the oculi. The 1120s would be exceptionally early for plate tracery.

There are belfry windows of similar construction to Rudston and Weaverthorpe at Ledsham (West Yorkshire). The only local example of early plate tracery known to the fieldworker is in the W belfry window at Riccall: the windows at this level have waterleaf capitals; the twin openings and the main arch are shafted (that is, five shafts in all); the oculus is small and seems to have been cut in one stone.


The font resembles the one at Weaverthorpe, 8 miles away. The font at Rudston is slightly smaller overall but has a deeper basin; the patterns are cut with more assurance, and, for example, on the rim there are many more repeats, and the motif seems to be an arch rather than the fewer lunettes at Weaverthorpe. All these differences show the Rudston font as of higher quality than that at Weaverthorpe.

The patterns on the sides of the drum are only found at these two churches; the rim pattern may occur elsewhere. Weaverthorpe church was completed c. 1120 (see comments above on belfry windows); perhaps the fonts belong to the period after 1121 when that church was given to Nostell Priory.


L. A. S. Butler, ed., The Yorkshire Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874). Yorkshire Archaeology Society Record series 159, Woodbridge 2007.

J. E. Morris, The East Riding of Yorkshire. 2nd ed., London 1906.

N. Pevsner and D. Neave, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd ed, London 1995, 664.

J. D. Purdy, The church of All Saints and the Monument, Rudston. Bridlington 1971

East Riding of Yorkshire, Vol. 2, Victoria County History, London 1974.