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English Church Architecture -

North Yorkshire.


ELLERBURN, St. Hilda (SE 842 842)     (May 2003)

(Bedrock:  Upper Jurassic, Lower Calcareous Grit Member)


This is a little church in an isolated spot, a mile and a half north-east of Thornton-le-Dale.  There is no village here - only a farm and a few cottages.


The building consists of a chancel, nave, and W. bell-cote supported on buttresses, rising only as high as the ridge of the nave roof.  It was all much restored between 1904 and 1911 under the direction of W.D. Caroe (1857-1938) yet it retains quite a lot of individual features that are old.  Externally this means especially a number of Anglo-Scandinavian sculptural fragments, of which the most significant is the head of a cross in the nave S. wall (shown left).  This is in Viking "Jellinge" style and features lattice-work and a bound serpent.  To the right is a blocked, pointed arch which presumably once led - c. 1200?  (see the photograph below left, showing the internal view) - to a small chapel, while right again in the S. wall of the chancel, is a lancet perhaps dating from a few decades later.  At the other end of the building, the three-light W. window with supermullioned tracery and a transom just above the springing level, may preserve its form from Perpendicular times, for squashed as it now is between the buttresses supporting the bell-cote, it seems unlikely to have been constructed after the erection of the latter.  The chancel E. window is similar but definitely renewed.


Inside the church, the chancel arch is the most striking feature.  This is early Norman up to the imposts, with an order of shafts to the west with shapeless capitals decorated by scrolls, and abaci that are flat-chamfered on their under-edges.  (The S. jamb of this arch is illustrated in the photograph, right.)  Above, the arch is pointed and composed of two flat-chamfered orders - work which, judged stylistically, could be contemporary with the S. lancet in the chancel.  Yet that lancet can now be seen to be set in a round-headed arch, and this is presumably part of the original building, as must be also the blocked window in the S. wall of the nave, above the blocked pointed arch of Norman-Transitional appearance already referred to (and shown below), which  now surrounds a deep window splay containing a two-light Tudor-style window.  Thus work of a variety of dates may be found here but it is altogether too fragmentary to encourage one to attempt a detailed reconstruction of the history of the building, at least in the absence of a full understanding of what exactly was done (and re-set where) by Caroe.


Finally, the benches - though of commonplace design - are largely Jacobean, but more important is the large Georgian pulpit with its heavy tester.