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English Church Architecture -

East Riding of Yorkshire (U. A.).


NORTH FERRIBY, All Saints (SE 989 258)     (April 2013)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Lower Chalk)


This is an early work by John Loughborough Pearson (1817-97), constructed in 1846-8 at a cost of £3,039.  “The building is largely constructed of local brown sandstone [though it stands above chalk].  The walls are made up of stones of irregular shape and size at uneven height intervals… and are reinforced by Mexborough stone dressings…”  The church guide (4th edition, by D. Bulmer) goes on to describe the style as “Middle Pointed or Decorated” though it is more accurately represented as the geometrical style of the Early English/Decorated transition.


The church (seen above, from the north) was paid for by public subscription and a substantial donation from Ann Turner of Ferriby House (ibid.). The patrons should have been well satisfied with their commission, for besides an aisled nave with N. & S. porches and a short chancel with a N. vestry, Pearson provided a W. tower with a broach spire, which has the distinction of being Pearson’s first steeple.  The spire has a tier of lucarnes in the cardinal directions and an exaggerated entasis which has the effect of making it appear slightly bloated, but the church is certainly impressive as one approaches from the north.  The aisle windows are two-light with trefoils, quatrefoils, cinquefoils or sexfoils in the heads.  The chancel E. window is five-light, with lights 1, 3 & 5 lancet-pointed above trefoils, lights 2 & 4 two-centred beneath large encircled cinquefoils, and an encircled sexfoil in the apex.  The aisle E. windows are three-light with encircled quatrefoils above lights 1 & 3 and wheels containing three trefoils and three trilobes in the heads. The tower is angle-buttressed and rises in two stages to bell-openings formed of pairs of lancet lights beneath quatrefoils in circles. There is no W. doorway but the W. window is three-light with trilobes above the lights and two encircled cinquefoils and one encircled quatrefoil in the head. Rather curiously, the most elaborate external feature is probably the priest’s doorway in the chancel S. wall (the side away from the road), which is approached up three steps and given additional prominence by a more than usually complex moulded profile and a gable above with a blank trefoil in the apex.  (See the photograph, left.)


Inside the building, the four-bay arcades are supported on alternately circular and octagonal piers, with large capitals of the same section and little broaches at the base of the outer of the two orders of flat chamfers above.  (The N. arcade is illustrated, right, viewed from the southwest.) The ends rest on corbels decorated with carved heads depicting four disparate, vaguely mediaeval figures, two of which may have been intended to depict “green men”.  Two further carved heads act as label stops to the dripstone around the double chamfered chancel arch, and a further pair immediately above, grace the corbels supporting the wall posts at the eastern corners of the nave roof.  (The photograph at the foot of the page on the left, shows the corbel at the east end of the N. arcade and the head label stop at the north end of the chancel arch dripstone, and the photograph next to it on the right, shows the corbel beneath the wall post at the southeast angle of the nave roof.)  One is curious to know the reason for this gentle nod towards ornamentation in this otherwise plain interior. The chancel is raised one step from the nave, the sanctuary, by another, and the space around the altar, by a third.  The nave and chancel roofs are steeply pointed, with continuous arched braces rising from the wall plates to the ridge, and are each provided with a single pair of purlins, positioned a third of the way up the pitch, rather than halfway.


Furnishings in the building are not of great significance. The octagonal font is Victorian and not particularly remarkable, but its cover is modern and an unusual example of “mouseman” furniture by Thompson of Kilburn.  The large monument retained from the church’s mediaeval predecessor and now re-set against the N. wall of the sanctuary, is a barely competent piece of work attributed by Pevsner to Thomas Steynor, commemorating Brigadier Luke Lillingston (d. 1713) and his wife, Elizabeth (d. 1699), and featuring the couple in effigy in utterly unconvincing poses, he holding a broken truncheon (the description in the church guide) in his right hand and looking towards the southwest and she appealing hysterically to the heavens, her hands clasped in front of her left shoulder in an unnatural attitude of prayer.