St Edmund, Kellington, Yorkshire, West Riding

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Feature Sets (3)


Kellington is a village which is roughly equidistant between Pontefract and Selby in North Yorkshire.  The parish church is on rising ground in an open position south-west of the village. It has nave, N aisle, chancel and N chapel, W tower, and S porch.  There is a very worn S doorway 'with a round arch but moulded capitals' (Pevsner 1967, 282). There is also a blocked round-headed window in the S wall of the nave.

Structural work due to the development of the Selby coalfield caused the demolition and rebuilding of the tower, and also allowed unusually-extensive archaeological excavations from October 1990 to January 1991 (Mytum 1995). Small finds were in the hands of the University of York Archaeological department; larger pieces are still (2014) at the church. These include the possible baseof the font, and two fragments of carved stone which may have been a lintel


Granted to Templars of Temple Hirst, late 12th century (VCH III, 259). The first known rector, John de Kellington, was appointed by the Knights Templar in 1185.

Lawton (1842), 140, says 'the town of Kellington belonged to the Lacies, Barons of Pontefract... Adam Fitz Swaine gave to the Knights Templar or Hospitallers, 8 oxgangs of land, and one Raimond gave another. This church, in which was a chantry, was appropriated to the preceptory of Newland, to which it was given by Henry de Lacy. At the dissolution of the Knights Templar, the patronage was given to Trinity College, Cambridge.'


Exterior Features


S doorway to nave

Extremely worn and broken. Magnesian limestone. Round-headed, two orders. Late twelfth-century doorway with chamfered first order and hollow bell capitals. For dating, see Comments.

First order

No bases, chamfered jambs. Stop-chamfer on L side at bottom. No capitals; chamfered imposts, perhaps a slightly hollow chamfer. In the arch, plain with chamfer. The chamfer is quite wide in both parts.

Second order

Square block base; coursed colonette; hollow plain capital with integral ring and impost, perhaps hollow-chamfered impost. In the arch, large voussoirs have a roll set in a hollow either side; the hollow profile on the outer edge continues flush to the wall; it imitates a label.

The capital on the L side has disintegrated.

ht. of opening 2.64m
W. of opening 1.58m


Blocked window

Seen internally only. Plain stonework adjacent to S doorway, and an opening above tower arch.

Loose Sculpture

Font base

This is in six pieces. A circular base, plain upright at the bottom, chamfered angle.


Approx. diam. 0.83m
max. ht. 0.23m

Pieces thought to be from a lintel.

Two pieces thought to be from a lintel. Found in excavation as threshhold of S doorway.

No obvious fit between the two pieces. Diagonal tooling evident. The pattern is a wavy, scrolling stem with trefoils of leaves in the spaces, sometimes with spiral ends, sometime with rounder, fruit-like blobs. On one stone the pattern ends and an eight-armed chip-carved star terminates the carving. For part of the run of the scrolling stem, there is a wide chamfer alongside.


h. of side with carving 0.17-0.18m
l. of fully-carved face 0.87m
l. of partially-carved face 0.71m
tooled length beyond the pattern 0.33m
w. of stone 0.26m


Due partly to its deteriorated state, the age of the S doorway (included as an example of possible Transitional work) is uncertain. Glynne (Butler 2007, 241) has no doubt it is Early English. Despite the round arch, this doorway probably belongs with the early 13th-century lower part of the tower and the dogtooth ornament and lancet windows elsewhere, as suggested by Pevsner's comment 'a round arch but moulded capitals'. The relationship of the doorway and the blocked round-headed window to the W, and the next open window which may once have been round-headed, suggest several changes in this wall. The wide chamfer in the first order is perhaps the most distinctive remaining feature for dating the doorway. Nevertheless, the S doorway is included as relevant to this Corpus because of the numerous similar instances encountered of Transitional work in the south of the Riding, some of which no doubt are earlier.

Mytum 1995 gives a phased plan of the church and proposes a W doorway for the first stone church; this had W tower, nave and chancel. Late 12th century plan shows nave lengthened to W; S and N doorways added; some N aisle(?).

The carved stone found in the floor at the S doorway is suggested by Mytum (1995, 21-2) to have come from the earlier W doorway.

Pevsner 1967, 282-3, mentions a picture of the former 'Norman' chancel arch, but it has not been traced.

Butler 2006, 88 says that the work at Kellington has still not yet received final publication, though it 'has had fairly full interim reports and some aspects of its methodology have been published'.


  • L. A. S. Butler (ed.), The Yorkshire Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874) Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record series 159 (Woodbridge, 2007).

  • L. A. S. Butler, 'Recent archaeological work in the dioceses of Ripon and Wakefield 1991-2000', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 78 (2006), pp. 85-110.

  • G. Lawton, Collectio rerum ecclesiasticarum de diocesi Eboracensi; or, collections relative to churches and chapels within the Diocese of York. To which are added collections relative to churches and chapels within the diocese of Ripon.  New edition (London, 1842).

  • H. Mytum, 'Parish and People: excavations at Kellington church', Medieval Life, 1 Dec 1995, pp. 19-22.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire, West Riding (London, 1959), revised edn. (1967).

The church from the SE.
On the footpath from the village.
The village and Eggborough power station from near the church.
The church from the N showing roof-line on tower.
The church from the N.
A glimpse of Birkin church from Kellington churchyard (two miles).
The group of fragments found in excavation, and others.
On the footpath from the village.
General view of church.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SE 547 245 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, West Riding
now: North Yorkshire
medieval: York
now: York
now: St Edmund
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Visit Date
16 September 1996; 09 Aug 2014