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Description and history of Terrington church

This page gives a historical account of the stages in the building of the church and points out some of the internal fixtures. The memorial inscriptions, World War 1 Role of Honour, list of rectors, and charity wall boards are dealt with on other pages in this section of the website.

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Terrington church from the north-west
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Terrington church from the south
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Terrington church from the south-east

Description of the interior

The interior consists of nave, north aisle, south chapel, west tower, and chancel with north chapel and vestry. The overall internal dimensions are approximately 90 feet by 40 feet. The church is dedicated to All Saints.

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Plan of Terrington church

11th century

The earliest remaining stonework in the church is probably pre-Conquest, dating from the 11th century. If you stand in the south chapel (on the right as you enter) and look at the wall dividing the chapel from the nave, to the west (left) of the arch is roughly constructed stonework, with patches of herring-bone masonry. It contains an original window, a small deeply-splayed single light placed high up in the wall (the sill is 8½ ft. above the present floor). The external head is cut in a triangular-shaped stone carved with knotwork apparently of pre-Conquest date. This wall would have been the outside wall of a church with a simple nave without aisles. The chancel of this early church would probably have been shorter than the present one.

12th century

Late in the 12th century the nave was mostly rebuilt with the addition of an aisle on the north side. Between the nave and the north aisle is an arcade of two bays. The unequal arches are semicircular with two plain orders, the eastern and wider one being struck from below the springing line. They rest on a cylindrical pier in the centre and half-round responds (the half pillar carrying the springer of the arch), with octagonal capitals of differing design, that to the western respond being fluted and the other two having a conventional leaf ornament. The external aisle wall is of the same date.

14th century

In the 14th century a chapel was built on the south side of the nave. It is probable that this was the chapel of St. Mary the Virgin founded by Sir Brian Stapleton of Wiganthorpe. The wide 14th-century arch of two orders formerly opened into this chapel and now opens into the modern south chapel. A small aumbry (cupboard) on the right of the arch was built to hold the altar vessels (later repaired). The chancel arch is pointed and apparently of 14th-century date, but is much restored and springs from semi-octagonal responds with moulded capitals; the tower arch may also be 14th century.

15th century

The north aisle had three 15th-century windows inserted, two in the north wall and one at the west end.

The 15th-century tower is three stages high with a vice (spiral staircase) in the southwest angle. The three-light west window has been restored, and below it is a small 15th-century door.

The chancel with a large chapel on the north side is of 15th-century date and has a three-light east window (with 19th century tracery). The south wall has two windows of three lights and one of two lights with square heads and a priest's door, all of 15th century date. On South wall of the choir, near the priest’s door, is a broken piscina with hole down which the rinsings of the chalice were poured.

The north chapel, of the same width as the nave aisle, from which it opens by a 15th-century arch, is of the same date as the chancel and is lit by two two-light windows in the north wall.

During this century also a clerestory with 3 windows was added above the pre-Conquest south wall.

16th century

At some time after Edward VI abolished chantry chapels in 1547, the south nave chapel was pulled down and its arch built up or a low wall built at the foot of the arch to form a window.

17th century

Above chancel arch are the royal arms of Charles II. After the Reformation it became customary to hang up these painted devices. It may be that the arms of an earlier monarch had been removed during the Commonwealth and repainted after the restoration of the Stuarts in 1660.

19th century

In 1870 the church was completely restored. The south door was inserted, piercing the early wall, and a south porch added. The south chapel was erected on the site of the earlier chantry chapel. The north wall of the chancel was re-built with two arches replacing a single arch of earlier date. A vestry was walled off at the east end of the north chapel and has a two-light window in the east wall. The building was completely re-roofed, an old gallery taken down, pews, reading desk and pulpit built, the east window was renewed, and the present reredos erected.

20th century

The tower was repaired and the bells rehung in memory of Miss Mary Laura Egerton who lived at Cliff Hall and died on 5th May 1913.

Notable Monuments in the church

There are significant memorial plaques to Lewis Elstob in the tower and to Martha Key and to Frederick Woodhouse Forth on the wall of the north aisle.

There are stained glass windows in memory of two members of the Garforth family of Wiganthorpe: the east window of the chancel to Louisa Catherine Garforth who died on 30 January 1868 (with the Good Samaritan on the left and the garments the widow Dorcas had made and given to the apostles on the right), and in the north chapel to Louisa's son William Francis Garforth, who died 22nd April 1869 aged 39 years. On the south side of the chancel is a window commemorating Jane Hardy who died 8 April 1875. It was erected by her sister Hannah and shows Jesus reassuring Martha and raising Lazarus. The window in the south chapel of the nave commemorates Samuel Wimbush, rector from 1865 to 1908, based on an Arts & Crafts glass painting by Morris & Co with designs of main figures by Sir Edward Burne-Jones.

The octagonal font dates from the 15th century, but the other fittings of the church are modern.

The present organ was placed in the North chapel in memory of Mary Egerton by her sister Georgina in May 1914.

Other features which cannot be seen

The tower contains a tenor medieval bell possibly of the 15th centruy inscribed with the name of Prior Robert, known traditionally as the Kirkham bell, but as no Robert held that priory during the 15th century it is more probable that it came from Marton Priory, only a short distance away, of which Robert Cave was prior about 1450. A second bell is inscribed 'Jesus be our speed 1623', and the treble bell, cast by Dalton of York in 1758, inscribed 'Repent in time.' During restoration a small mediaeval sanctus bell was found under the tower and is now kept at the rectory. It bears no inscription, but has four stamps, one a cross with the reed and sponge placed behind it, and the others the letter C.

The plate includes a cup and cover paten (York, 1662) inscribed 'Tirrinton 1663', two patens (York, 1662), the gift of Sarah, widow of the Rev. Robert Hitch, Dean of York, 1680, with an impaled coat of arms, and a large but late plated flagon.

The Parish Registers from 1660 to 1812 have been printed by the Yorkshire Parish Register Society.


The west tower has substantial diagonal buttresses at the western corners and on its west wall there is a relieving arch of two stones inclined against each other above the doorway. The tower is finished with an embattled parapet with angle and intermediate pinnacles. The sundial high in the south wall of the tower is inscribed 'Tho. Marton & Robt. Campleman: CHURCH Wardens 1767' above and 'Robt. Campleman [Sc?]ulpt, 1767' below. The clock dates from 1976, was refurbished in 1992, and the stonework repaired by by Martin Coward in 2017. There is a change in the stonework in the south wall of the chancel just to the west of the priest's door. The two external buttresses on the wall of 15th century chancel north chapel, one at either end of the wall, are both original.

On the north wall of the nave (4 - 5 feet to the right of the buttress between the nave and chancel and 4 - 5 feet above the ground) there is a mass dial (a simple sundial intended to show the hours of mass); it must have originally faced south but the stone was recycled when the North aisle was added. The north aisle wall is unbuttressed.

©Terrington Arts
This page last updated: 21st December 2021

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