We use cookies to improve your experience, some are essential for the operation of this site.

St James, Lotherton, Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°49′9″N, 1°19′4″W)
SE 450 361
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now West Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
  • Rita Wood
14 Mar 2002

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=2340.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.


The chapel is close to the mansion, Lotherton Hall, near Aberford, and part of an estate that now belongs to Leeds City Council, although the chapel is not redundant. Neither the site of the earliest settlement nor of any ‘manor house’ has been identified.

Ryder (1993) says the chapel is the smallest church in West Yorkshire. It is a simple two-cell building, with what may be a 13thc. or 14thc. bellcote and some later windows. John Bilson's description of 1912 is quoted in Kirk (1919, 122-126). At some unknown date the building was shortened by about 1m on the W end. It is built of uncoursed rubble, with worked limestone on facings and doorways. If it were not for later furnishings, including memorials, it might resemble a barn.

It was restored ‘by the great architectural historian John Bilson’ (Pevsner) in 1913/1917; a pre-restoration view was enclosed when this report was first submitted. Before this, the chapel was plastered outside, apparently thickly enough to have hidden the priest's doorway from view.

Romanesque carving can be found on two window heads and on the N doorway; inside there is a stoup.


Faull and Moorhouse say ‘little recorded’ history.

The first reference to the chapel occurs in a survey of 1650. In medieval times it was a chapel-of-ease, probably to Sherburn-in-Elmet, and never a parish church (leaflet).

Lawton (1842, 76) says that chapels at Lotherton and Mickelfield 'are within the parish of Sherburne, but are not noticed in the Visitation Calls'; for this reason he has no information on the early dedication. It is now part of Aberford and Micklefield parish.


Exterior Features



Interior Features

Interior Decoration





The authoritative leaflet by the WYAS observes that:

The cobble 'platform' at the W wall is 'a survival of the original chapel floor: the rest of the area has been substantially lowered'. The chancel arch can be reconstructed as narrower; 'the north side is original, but the south side has been cut back and rebuilt... it had a semi-circular arched head... and some of the arch stones have been re-set in the walling above the wooden lintel'. The priest's doorway is not original, and the jamb stones and lintel appear to have been inserted as the walling has been disturbed.

Ryder (1993, 166) thinks that ‘there are hints that there may in fact be two or more phases of Norman work.’ This raises the possibility that the waterleaf doorway could be an addition of the 1170s to a simple earlier church. The incised rays or voussoirs on the two window heads may also belong to a refurbishment of the fabric. He also says: ‘Nave shortened by 1.5m, probably in the 18th century’, at which time he thinks the bellcote was remade. Footings can still be traced outside the W end. The chancel arch seems to have been altered or removed about this time.

The building is mostly of hard small white stones; the N doorway of a golden yellow stone, somewhat sandy.

S doorway to nave: Bilson, in Kirk (1959, 125), says this doorway in the W part of the S wall of the nave seems to be of post-Reformation date. Sidney Kitson thought it was an 18thc. alteration (Bilson 1959, 125, n.3).


G. E. Kirk, Lotherton Chapel. Thoresby Soc. Publications, vol. 26, (Miscellanea, 8), 1922, 113-128.

G. E. Kirk, The Parish Church of Aberford, with a short notice of Lotherton Chapel, Shipley, 1959.

P. F. Ryder, Medieval Churches of West Yorkshire. West Yorkshire Archaeology Service, Wakefield, 1993.

West Yorkshire Archaeology Service, Historic Churches of West Yorkshire: Lotherton Hall Chapel, Wakefield, 1990. (leaflet)