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English Church Architecture -

North Yorkshire.


SINNINGTON, All Saints (SE 747 860)     (May 2003)

(Bedrock:  Upper Jurassic, Ampthill Clay Formation)


Sinnington is one of the most attractive villages in the North York Moors.  The church (shown left, from the southwest) is situated at its northern end and consists of a nave and chancel built as a single unit, a S. porch, and a small wooden bell-cote. The building is essentially Norman in spite of the excessively heavy restoration carried out in 1904 by Charles Hodgson Fowler (1840-1910), to whom is due much other work in the region, most of it workmanlike but unremarkable.  Fowler was a pupil of Sir George Gilbert Scott, to whose work the same remark can often be applied.


At Sinnington, Fowler was responsible for the small E. window with its dull supermullioned tracery, the rebuilding of the chancel arch, and most of the furnishings, including the alteration and effective destruction of the former Jacobean box pews.  These he converted into conventional benches, for which the only excuse can be increased comfort.  Only the backs of these benches now appear old, and Fowler did not preserve much of the earlier chancel arch either.  Here the shaft at the northwest angle is the only significant re-used Norman masonry.  Very possibly the arch above, with its unmoulded orders, is at least  modelled on the original.


The church does retain some mediaeval work, however.  The tall (blocked) W. doorway remains (illustrated right), with its roll moulding rising from an order of shafts with worn scalloped capitals.  The S. doorway is contemporary and formed of an arch of two orders, the outer of which carries a roll that formerly sprang from shafts, since removed, but whose capitals remain, that to the east displaying waterleaf and thus possibly dating the whole of this initial building phase to c. 1200.  There is also a renewed Norman window in the nave S. wall and a smaller one in the W. gable above the blocked doorway (visible in the photograph above).  The remains of the latter can also be seen internally, together with those of another doorway to the north, of about the same height.  Finally the S. wall of the chancel reveals a Norman piscina and one jamb of what might have been a Norman priest’s doorway.


Yet none of this is the earliest work to be seen at Sinnington, for in common with a good many other churches in the region, re-used amongst its twelfth century masonry are a number of sculptural fragments that date back to Saxon times, including, set externally in the nave S. wall, the heads of two crosses (shown below), one of which depicts a figure and a serpent, assumed to represent Christ conquering the devil.  Inside the building, built into the splay of the Norman S. window, there are two stones which retain crisp Saxon interlacing patterns, and part of a cross shaft has been fixed to the splay of a chancel N. window, presumably in this case, when the church was restored.