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St Mary, Hemingbrough, Yorkshire, East Riding

(53°46′2″N, 0°58′49″W)
SE 673 306
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now North Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
  • Rita Wood
13 June 2003

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A large cruciform Gothic church with aisles to the nave, and chapels and an aisle in the choir. It is famous for its tall spire on the short tower (total 180ft (54.86 m)). Romanesque remains are two bays of the N and S nave arcades with some respond stops; and a late 12thc. font, arcaded with waterleaf capitals variously carved.


The church and manor were given by William the Conqueror to the bishop of Durham and by him to Durham priory. The Domesday Survey, where it is called 'Hamiburg', says there was a priest and a church.


Interior Features






With all the finesse of the font, why is it all set out so irregularly? Columns are not at regular distances, and some of them slope. Might this be a late 12thc. re-fashioning of an earlier arcaded font? Raine, 1888, 22, says 'The work is coarsely and roughly done, although the effect from a distance is fairly good'. This is a good assessment. It is amazingly irregular for a late 12thc. font. There has been quite a bit of subsequent damage around the rim.

There are gritstones as used by the Romans, with lifting holes, reused in the columns and in the W end. There may have been a Roman fort here (Raine 1888), or the Roman stones may have been brought down the river from a Roman site elsewhere (York, Ilkley) - the church is adjacent to the old course of the Ouse, as can be detected on the O.S. map, in the plates in Pevsner and Neave or the VCHER.


N. Pevsner and D. Neave, The Buildings of England Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, ed. 1995 London 1995, 458-461; pl. 36.

T. Burton, edited and enlarged by J. Raine, The history and antiquities of the parish of Hemingbrough, York 1888.

VCH, Victoria County History: York East Riding 3, Oxford 1976, 37-47.