Knaresborough, North Yorkshire – St John

Another day out with my  North East Ranger ticket. Knaresborough has a lovely station – water tank (dating 1851), tunnel, signal box (1890), station (1851 rebuilt  1890) – and The Old Ticket Office café (website). The Bacon Sandwiches were superb, and it was a large pot of tea. The train we got off disappeared into the tunnel – it is an hourly service Leeds to York – while the one on the half hour reverses here. It goes back onto the viaduct then into the opposite platform. There is a proper shunting signal which would be worth a photo, but the sun was in the wrong place.

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St John’s Knaresborough is just down from the station, at SE347572. I could direct you to their website – but they are still advertising a forthcoming music festival last summer. Their guidebook is much better, and you can still use lovely wooden paddles if you can’t be bothered to spend £2.50! Bede refers to a Synod held by the River Nidd in 705 AD, but the first documentary mention of this church is 1114. The tower is Norman, as is much of the fabric of the church. The spire dates to 1520 and the clock (W. Potts & Sons of Leeds) 1884 – though the clockface is a 1975 fibreglass replica. The church’s west end dates to 1230, and there was a major rebuild of the church by Queen Philippa, wife of Edward III, after Scottish raids of 1318.

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The south porch was added in the early 16th century, and the iron grill is 18th century.

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The font is Tudor, and the font cover and iron bracket are Jacobean, circa 1685. In 1510 the Knaresborough witch John Steward was accused of having baptised a cock and other creatures, and having used holy water for a magic ritual. Fonts were usually kept locked. The light kept on in the 21st century gives a bit of light at the back of the church – and what an appropriate place to keep it. The Nave is also Tudor, with aisles added later, and there was a rebuilding in 1486 – I missed the Tudor roses. Rather nice Jacobean communion rails – the altar was placed here in the late 1970s.

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januaryb 085januaryb 120januaryb 084The current organ (the third) dates from 1894, and cost £1,012.

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St Edmund’s chapel, at the east end of the south aisle, is C13 – it is a lovely Early English Arch. Originally it was a Chantry Chapel, where prayers were offered for members of the Plumpton and Roundell families. The altar stone dates from the C13, while much of the stonework on the walls is 1343. The Easter Sepulchre is where the sacrament would rest from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. The guidebook does not tell me who the moustached gentleman is. This piece of Victorian glass shows the Good Samaritan.

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The Chancel walls containing the shapes of Norman windows, and a Decorated East Window (1340s again). Actually, it is a Victorian copy of the Decorated East Window – what a shame the medieval glass went. The reredos was sculpted from Caen stone and dates to 1872. The two paintings are C16 – Moses and Aaron (sorry about the focus).

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On the north side is the Slingsby Chapel – the family has been associated with the town since 1333. The oldest tomb is also the largest – Francis Slingsby, who reclines in full armour, and his wife Mary. She lies on his right, as she was of the Percy family and higher in rank. Francis was a cavalry officer under Henry VIII and Mary Tudor, and Commissioner for Scotland under Elizabeth I. The tomb was the work of Thomas Brown, and cost £13.

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On the wall are memorials to their sons, both by Epiphanius Evesham. The figure in the shroud is Sir Henry Slingsby, High Sheriff of Yorkshire, who died in 1634 – it reminds me of the memorial to John Donne in St Paul’s Cathedral. His brother Sir William, who died 4 years later, is the gentleman in the high-crowned hat, wearing his boots and spurs. He was Commissary of the Fleet.

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The recumbent effigy is by Boehm – we came across his work at Lanercost Priory. It commemorates Sir Charles Slingsby, who drowned in the River Ure in 1869.

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I did not make notes of which Victorian stained glass windows are which – there is some Morris glass. Just enjoy the colours. If you look at the sheep, ask yourself why there are cattle there too. It is a lovely church – though today it was very, very cold.januaryb 081januaryb 083januaryb 082januaryb 116januaryb 117januaryb 119

We walked round the north side of the church, and spotted a NER bench. Then we spotted another one.

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On the hill looking down on the church is this rather lovely pile – I want a Vicarage like this!januaryb 132januaryb 131

We wandered up to the Market – a nice selection of shops – and a memorial to Blind Jack the road builder. The sculpture is by Barbara Asquith, and there is an old article about the work here.

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We entered the Castle and counted the number of NER benches – not quite hundreds, but certainly a lot. Lovely view across to the Viaduct (Thomas Grainger, 1846-51, Leeds & Thirsk Railway (Leeds Northern Railway). The four-span bridge stands 78ft high above the water, each span measuring 56ft 9in across.

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The cake in the Old Ticket Office was wonderful too.

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4 Responses to Knaresborough, North Yorkshire – St John

  1. Jon Bayliss says:

    Sir Henry Slingsby’s stewards kept accounts of the payments to the sculptor of his monument, showing that the sculptor was not Evesham but William Wright of Charing Cross. Evesham disappears from the historical record in the first half of the 1620s.

  2. Lois Pallister says:

    Thank you so much for this.
    I’ve been struggling to get information on the church before my visit.
    I didn’t imagine they had a guide book but I doubt I can get one online?

    Love your photos and am even more excited at visiting the Church now.

    • admin says:

      Glad you enjoyed it. It always amazes me how few churches bother to put anything about their buildings and their history on their websites. Cheers, Peter

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