History of All Saints Church

The Church

All Saints Church

The church of All Saints stands very close to the Monolith — only about 12 feet from its north-east corner. It was built soon after the Norman conquest, probably around 1100AD by William Peverel, then Lord of the Manor.

All that remains of this church is the lower part of the Tower with its 4ft thick walls, and also the Font. The latter is decorated with an unusual diapered pattern made up of two symbols: the cross for redemption and the circle for eternity. The original entrance to the church would be through the plain round-headed Norman doorway in the west wall of the tower, this was later blocked up and a trefoil headed lancet window inserted into it, perhaps when the church was enlarged during the 13th century. There is another font-like basin under the table at the back of the south aisle and this is thought to be a holy water stoup from the 13th century. Also of that century - or maybe a little earlier - is the Mediaeval Stone Coffin Cover (lying at the west end of the south aisle) It bears some quite deep grooves and these are likely to have been made by medieval people using it as a sharpening stone.

About the middle of the 13th century the church was enlarged by adding south and north aisles. The pillars in the Nave with their capitals and the plain pointed arches springing from them are in the 'Early English' style of architecture. There is a rectangular opening in the north aisle and the chancel wall, this is a Squint through which the Curate could see when the Host at Communion was elevated, and so co—ordinate his presiding at the communion in the North Aisle chapel. The fact that it looks to a point much nearer the nave than the present east end of the chancel shows that the original chancel could have been much shorter. The Squint has been partially blocked by the Piscina. Other Piscinae — basins with water outlet for washing the Communion vessels - are to be found in the south aisle and the chancel.

The Chancel (with arch) was built - or greatly enlarged - early in the 14th century, and contains much fine ‘Decorated' work. There is a priest‘s door in its south wall. Within the Sanctuary, note the line Sedalia · seats for priests — with continuous mouldings and richly crocketed gables, and the large trefoiled Piscina.

Also noteworthy is the highly ornate Ancaster reredos, containing panels filled with Minton tiles, which was installed in 1869.

The encaustic decoration on the rereclos was found beneath a later covering of distemper in 1970, and fragments of stencilled wall decoration also survive within the space occupied by the organ case. In 1861 the architect G. Fowler Jones restored the church, the six chancel windows date from this time and are said to be facsimiles of the original, with their geometric tracery; the have windows and the east window also belong to the 19th century restoration.

Most of the Stained Glass in the Windows is modem, designed by Hardman and replacing 19th century glass by Capronnier of Brussels and Hodgson of York, destroyed by a land mine in the second world war. The various depictions speak for themselves and these pleasing windows are worth examining, particularly the east window above the altar. It has four panels, the left one depicting SS Peter, Paul, James, John, Ethelburga and the Venerable Bede, the two central panels show the Blessed Virgin Mary and the child Jesus, and the living Christ 'Reigning from the cross.' The panel on the right shows northern saints Wilfrid, Cuthbert, Chad, John of Beverley, Alcuin of York, Oswald, Edwin, and most unusually William Wilberforce, MP for Hull and then Yorkshire, who pioneered the abolition of slavery.

Inside All Saints

The glass in the window above the organ console, was made by Arthur Ward, dates from 1915, its lower half depicts Sir Alexander Macdonald of the Isles and his choir. Sir Alexander gave the organ, and was organist and choirmaster for nearly 50 years. A bronze memorial tablet placed under the window is in memory of him. His magnificent 4 manual organ by Wordsworth of Leeds was rebuilt as a 2 -manual; the original pipe work was reused, and the splendid case, standing on a wooden gallery against the tower arch, remains as designed by Weatherley and Jones of London for the original organ.


These are self explanatory; of particular note are two brass inscriptions fixed to the wall of the tower vestry. One is a memorial to Sir William Constable of Caythorpe {died 1527} and his wife, Jane {died 1540}. Space was left for the date of Jane's death but never filled in. The other, made by Thos. Mann of York, is to Katherine {died 1677} wife of John Constable. On the wall near the font is the memorial to Winifred Holtby {1898 - 1935 }.

The Bells

There are three bells in the tower: two cast by Samuel Smith {father and son} of York, in 1663 and 1720 and the third probably dates from 1590 but was recast in 1877. The Church Registers which commenced in 1550 are complete, now deposited in the County Records Office, Beverley, now the “Treasure House".


The Church has been altered or restored on several occasions. In 1540 Jane Constable of Caythorpe left £1 "to repair the body of the church". The fabric apparently suffered a period of neglect in the late 17th century - the chancel was reported to be in disrepair 1676 and the whole church 30 years later. A gallery was built at the west end in 1748, which doubtless housed the parish orchestra which existed in the early 19th century. In 1809 the churchwardens spent £13 on the orchestra in 1809 - £6 for a violin cello and £7 for “a teacher of psalmery”. The church was "thoroughly repaired” in 1829, and a typically Victorian restoration took place in 1861, when both the aisles. and the south porch were rebuilt, the church re-roofed, the tower heightened, and the chancel screen removed. The tower clock was installed in 1882. The oak screened choir vestry was erected in 1938 in memory of Lady Alice Bosville Macdonald.