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All Saints, Wighill, Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°54′48″N, 1°16′53″W)
SE 473 466
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now West Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
  • Rita Wood
14 April 1996, 19 May 1997, 12 Aug 1997

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The village of Wighill is 6 miles E of Wetherby and close to the River Wharfe.

The church was originally a two-cell structure. The present nave is based largely on the plan of the original 12thc. church. The form of the original chancel is unknown, and there is now a long chancel, similar to the church at Healaugh. Bilson (1915) says the rectangular chancel dates in part from the 12thc. and that it was later extended. The N nave arcade is late 12thc. and belongs with the late 12thc. N aisle. Further additions include a N chancel chapel, a W tower, and a vestry (Leach and Pevsner 2009, 755-56; there is a plan in Bilson (1915) opposite p.108).

Leach and Pevsner (2009, 755) say that the 1912-1913 restoration was by W. H. Brierley. Borthwick Faculty 1912/6 relates to the general restoration and improvements (Bilson, 1915). An appeal leaflet for the restoration is in the Leeds Local History Library.

Romanesque sculpture can be found on the S doorway and on the N arcade. Pevsner (1959) says that this S doorway is "one of the most sumptuous and one of the best preserved amongst the group of Norman doorways in village churches near York" with rare carved scenes of the Crucifixion and the Descent from the Cross on its capitals.


The Domesday Book mentions Healaugh, Wighill and Wighill Park together. Before the Conquest, Tochi had 18 carucates worth £8, which in 1086 were held by Goisfrid Alselin, and the value was 60s. The extent of the manor in Wighill and Wighill Park was 8 carucates. (VCH ii, 271, 303)

Wighill church was given to the priory of Healaugh Park before 1228, whereas Healaugh church was granted to the priory about 1398.


Exterior Features


Interior Features



Doorway: central arris in jamb of first order as at Healaugh and other churches. The upright leaf pattern on the L capital of the first order was also used at Brayton on the tower arch. Incised patterns can be seen on a vine-leaf carved on a capital of the doorway at Riccall.

There seems to be no overall iconographic programme in the arch voussoirs, but the two figured capitals can be related to the theme of the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, a subject also carved at Healaugh and other sites in Yorkshire, see Wood (1994, 74-76).

The broken and unfinished voussoir 7 and the extraneous stones 8 to 10 were probably used in an emergency. Carving above the third order capitals, in the order of laying the stones, is not as skilful as the work found on the capitals and the voussoirs of the second order.

Voussoir 12, a man carrying a pig, is carved on a weathered corbel at Bilton-in-Ainsty. This carving and that on voussoir 14 can be compared to some 'calendar' panels above the nave doorway at Barton-le-Street.

Free-standing sculpture is also seen at Riccall and often marked by breakage.

East Riding similarities in workmanship are few but general (beakheads, motifs on the N arcade). Healaugh and Adel were connected via Holy Trinity Priory, York, and some features of Adel’s corbel table recur in the East Riding at Kirkburn. This implies connections and extensive travelling over some decades.

Arcade: the chamfer-stops are reminiscent of some at Brandesburton and Great Driffield.


J. Bilson, 'Proceedings of the Society in 1913', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 23 (1915), 110-117.

P. Leach and N. Pevsner, Yorkshire West Riding: Leeds, Bradford and the North, Harmondsworth, 2009.

Victoria County History of Yorkshire, vol. II, 1912, reprinted 1974.

R. Wood, 'The Romanesque font at St Marychurch, Torquay', Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings 62 (2004), 79-98.

R. Wood, 'The Romanesque Doorways of Yorkshire, with special reference to that at St. Mary's Church, Riccall', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 66 (1994), 59-90.