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All Saints, Saxton, Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°49′34″N, 1°16′42″W)
SE 476 369
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now North Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
formerly All Saints
medieval not confirmed
now All Saints
  • Rita Wood
22 June 1999; 3 May 2014; 13 Jan 2015

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Saxton is a village about 12 miles from Leeds. The church of All Saints has a W tower, nave with S porch and S chapel, and chancel with N vestry. An overriding impression of the interior was the dark pointing on the light grey stone: one unusual touch was that the stone slates of the porch were hung on wooden pegs on the rafters. (Pevsner, 1967, 431; Butler, 2007, 36).

There is a plan of the church in Borthwick Fac. 1876/5, but it is largely concerned with reseating, and so the windows (for example) are not entirely accurate: a better plan is in Kirk, 1960, pl. 1, drawn by J. H. Smith in 1959. An annotated plan drawn by S. D. Kitson in October 1920 is in the archive of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society; it is informative (summarised in Kirk, 1960, 14-15).

Apart from the N wall of the nave, which was rebuilt in later medieval centuries slightly to the N of the first line, the ground plan of tower, nave and chancel are basically from the twelfth century. The only Romanesque sculpture is in the waterleaf capitals and bases of the south doorway, and the simple imposts of the chancel arch. There are also two slit windows, and an aumbry - all supposed to be of c.1180 because of the waterleaf capitals.


In DB, Saxton belonged to Ilbert de Lacy (VCH II, 244, 297), and was held by the Peytevin family; there was a church. About 1160-74, Robert de Peytevin granted the advowson and some land to the hospital of St Peter (Farrer, 1916, 24). This is the family that had been concerned with the establishment of the Cistercians at Kirkstall. Lawton (1842), 73 says 'Torre calls this a parochial chapel within the parish of Sherburn'.


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches




Kirk compares the S doorway at Saxton to the N doorway at Otley (1960, pl. IV.1), and the chancel arch to others, for example, at Ryther, Bardsey and Leathley.

Internal measurements of tower, nave and chancel, taken by S. D. Kitson, are repeated on the plan in Kirk 1960, pl. 1 (in feet). The church of c. 1180 had a tower 3.12m square; nave 16m x 8.3m; chancel 9.45m x 5.94m.

Kitson's notes on his plan of 1920 date the external casing of the tower, and the tower arch, to c. 1450-1500, the structure of the tower being orginally 12th century (cited by Kirk 1960, 14).

The N wall of the nave was rebuilt at some date estimated to be c. 1280 (Kitson in Kirk, 1960, 14).

W. G. Collingwood was told by the vicar that the pre-Conquest cross head had been found embedded "in early walling... close above the Norman south door." (Collingwood, 1915, 236). One might speculate that the cross-head was intentionally reused, placed on view there, in the late twelfth century. If so, it was quite the most decorative piece of sculpture used at the church.

S doorway to nave: the arch, plain and chamfered, has a somewhat broader chamfer than at Rufforth, but narrower than at Kellington. There is no label, which might suggest an early porch, but the present porch is of 1850 (Gilleghan, 2012, 9).


Borthwick Institute Fac. 1876/5 (includes plan of church)

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

E. Coatsworth, Western Yorkshire. Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, vol. VIII (Oxford, 2008).

W. G. Collingwood, 'Anglian and Anglo-Danish Sculpture in the West Riding' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 23 (1915)

W. Farrer, Early Yorkshire Charters, vol. 3 (Edinburgh, 1916).

G. E. Kirk, Saxon Church, Lead Chapel, Towton Chapel (Leeds, 1960).

G. Lawton, Collectio rerum ecclesiasticarum de diocesi Eboracensi; or, collections relative to churches and chapels within the Diocese of York. To which are added collections relative to churches and chapels within the diocese of Ripon (London, 1842).

N. Pevsner, Yorkshire: West Riding: The Buildings of England (Harmondsworth, 1959), 2nd. ed. rev. E. Radcliffe (1967).

Victoria County History of Yorkshire, vol. II (London, 1974).