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English Church Architecture -

North Yorkshire.


NUNNINGTON, All Saints & St. James (SE 666 788)      (May 2003)

(Bedrock:  Upper Jurassic, Upper Calcareous Grit Member)


Situated on a slight eminence with excellent views to the north over Rye Dale and the North York Moors, this is a small building (shown above, from the south) with no especially significant features, consisting of a W. tower, nave with S. porch, and chancel with N. organ chamber.  Most of the nave and chancel windows are original and of the cusped Y-traceried form typical of c. 1300.  The lowside lancet window in the chancel S. wall, the chancel arch with its two flat-chamfered orders, and the S. doorway with one unmoulded order around the arch, however, all suggest that the church could first have been erected rather earlier in the thirteenth century. The inner order of the chancel arch is supported on semicircular corbels, while the outer order runs uninterrupted down the jambs.


The short, unbuttressed tower in two stages appears to be late Tudor work with its two-light uncusped bell-openings, but Pevsner said it is “probably of 1672”, without giving any explanation as to why he offered so specific a date (in the North Riding of Yorkshire volume of The Buildings of England, Penguin, 1966).  It is embattled and has crocketed pinnacles at the corners.  The porch and organ chamber both date from a Victorian restoration.


Inside the church, the nave wall houses an early fourteenth century recess containing an effigy of Sir Walter Teyes (d. 1325), one time patron of the benefice, who fought against Scotland under both Edward I and Edward II.  He is shown dressed in chain mail, with a lion at his feet, while the cusped ogee arch above is standard Decorated work. To his right, a rectangular wall monument commemorating Lord Widdrington (d. 1743) was designed by James Gibbs and executed by John Rysbrack (1694-1770).  Rysbrack was unrivalled as a monumental sculptor for many years but there was not much scope for his talent here.  Another monument commemorates Emily Cleaver (d. 1806) and is signed by Michael Taylor (1760-1846), who did a lot of work in Yorkshire, including at York Minster.


The pulpit is Jacobean but subsequently much altered and damaged.  It now stands on a concrete base, and the conventional blank arches decorating its panels are not able to redeem it.