St Mary, Kettlewell, Yorkshire, West Riding

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Feature Sets (2)


Kettlewell is a village in Upper Wharfedale, North Yorkshire.  The original church was entirely rebuilt in the early 19th century: faculty papers in the Borthwick Institute, dated June 1819, state that the church is 'now rebuilding entirely new'. The W tower of c. 1820 survives from this building, the rest of which was again rebuilt between 1882-5. This was done by T H and F Healey, in a late Gothic style (see bibliography for details). Romanesque sculpture survives on the only original interior feature, the font. 



Late in the twelfth century, a donation of land in Kettlewell was made to Swainby (later Coverham) Abbey, and early in the thirteenth century, a moiety of the church belonged to Coverham (VCH III, 243).





Situated near the S door and set on a central pillar and four legs of later date.  The font is unlined.

The font is cylindrical with a roll-moulded rim.  It is integral with a plain, square plinth, with chamfered corners. At each of the corners is a spur, carved as follows:

SE spur: an inverted muzzled beast’s head, with drilled nostrils and ovoid, bulging eyes.

SW spur: symmetrical foliate ornament consisting of a wide, shallow groove with, on either side, three spatulate leaves.  The uppermost leaves could be one large leaf divided in two by the central groove

NW spur: palmette with two leaves curling downwards on either side of a central stem, and one leaf at the top of the stem.

NE spur: palmette with a cluster of  heavily veined leaves rising from the base and curling downward, with a central tall pointed leaf rising above these.  At the top, to either side of the pointed leaf are what appear to be berries.

The roll moulded rim and the interior base, which has four straight runnels leading to a central hole, appear to have been recut. The outer surfaces and the sculpture (on the corner spurs) look untouched by recutting. There is some damage to the plinth.



exterior diam. of bowl 0.76m
h. including integral plinth 0.55m
h. of bowl excl. integral plinth 0.445m
interior depth 0.30m
interior diam. 0.57m


Pevsner 1967, 283, and Leach and Pevsner 2009, 364, give the font a 13th-century date, on the basis of the leaf ornaments being classed as 'stiff leaf'. The form of the font and the other ornaments, though, are a century older, and the muzzled beast is comparable to one on a tomb-cover of pre-Conquest date at Burnsall. The font is likely to be early twelfth-century in date.


  • Borthwick Institute Faculty papers Fac. 1882/5

  • Borthwick Institute Faculty papers Fac. 1819/2

  • P. Leach and N. Pevsner, Yorkshire West Riding: Leeds, Bradford and the North (Yale, 2009).

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire, West Riding (Harmondsworth, 1959), 2nd. edn., revised E. Radcliffe (1967).

  • The Victoria County History of Yorkshire, III (London, 1913, reprinted 1974).

The church from the south
Tributary of the Wharfe at Kettlewell
The church from the N.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SD 972 722 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, West Riding
now: North Yorkshire
medieval: York
now: Bradford
now: St Mary
medieval: St Mary (1431, Prob. Reg.)
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Rita Wood 
Visit Date
17 July 1995; 04 Aug 2013