St Andrew, Bainton, Yorkshire, East Riding

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Feature Sets (3)


Bainton church, seen first with its tower, from the street, gives the impression of a Cotswold church, golden and Gothic. The interior is spacious, the plain tall whitish arcades reminiscent of Harewood (West Yorkshire).

There is a three-bay chancel, nave with four-bay arcades and W tower; S porch and N vestry off nave aisles. There is not much of the Romanesque period left, although enough to show that there was a stone church here in the mid-12thc.. This underwent a ‘total rebuilding’ in the 1350s, except around the SW corner of the chancel, and even that is of c. 1300. This rebuilding is thought to have been at least partly due to recent destruction of the previous church by the Scots. Restorations took place in the 19thc..

The identification of Romanesque work in the E respond bases of the arcades is suggested (plan and drawing in Petch 1986, 1); whether this is so or not, the footprint of the central nave might be that of a 12thc. church. 

The cylindrical early 12thc. font survives, and there is a reset 12thc. corbel outside. 


It has been suggested that the dedication to St Andrew, along with other churches locally at Middleton on the Wolds, Hutton Cranswick, Foston and Ulrome, was due to the activity of missionaries sent by St Wilfrid in the seventh century from his monastic base at St Andrew’s, Hexham (Ollard 1934). Ollard mentions another string of this dedication in the N of the Riding, listing Langton, Kirby Grindalythe, Weaverthorpe, Cowlam and Boynton.

There was one priest at Bainton in the Doomsday Book, but no mention of a church. The Fossards were lords of Neswick and Bainton, but not the only landholders in Bainton. Nigel Fossard gave the patronage to St Mary’s Abbey, York, before 1089.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration


Reset corbel at E end of S aisle

This piece is described as a capital in both Petch 1985 and in Pevsner and Neave 1995, 269-70, but is a corbel. On the bell are incised eyes, and what might be taken to be the ring of a capital is better understood as the strap of a muzzle binding the animal's jaws. The centre strap of the muzzle passing up into the semicircular shield, the animal's forehead, is a hollow, which is unusual, and perhaps misunderstood by the workman. In the curved panel there are three ridges parallel to the curve and a leaf motif above them branching off the centre line to either side. The animal's eyes and ears can still all be seen. 

The sides of the piece have been cloaked by mortar, and the downward face is probably filled with mortar; presumably it was found in the upper wall fabric during some restoration work, and reset as a curiosity. 




This is a fine cylindrical font standing in a good open space in full view near the W end of the church. It is set on an octagonal plinth, above which is a circular base with projecting moulding. A band of mortar or cement conceals the actual base of the original font, which no doubt was irregular from being levered up and moved around (compare Kirkburn font where the uneveness is not cloaked). The font has a trellis pattern of double lines forming diamonds. The pattern moves regularly round the font, having three and a half diamonds in each vertical repeat, either with a full diamond at the top or at the bottom. The technique of marking out this pattern did not allow for the eventual meeting of the repeats, and this not only produced large diamonds, but irregular ones at the bottomThe rim of the font has a double cable pattern. 

Depth of bowl interior 0.485m
External diameter of bowl 0.81m
Height of font including lead 0.7m
Height of font (to octagonal plinth) 0.89m
Internal diameter of bowl 0.58m



This has been called a capital, but there is no ring at the bottom, and what looks like a ring near the bottom is a muzzle. The segment of a circle at the top recalls a capital, but here it is a pattern applied to the forehead of a beast. The item is a corbel.

The patterning with parallel lines is fairly common in the East Riding, for example, on the North Grimston font and a capital at Kirkburn. Capitals with parallel lines, and one of them with a two-leaf pattern above the lines, were seen the Cistercian Abbey of Eberbach, Germany, in a chapter house window­ - presumably this would be later than the corbel at Bainton. Corbels in which beasts have foliate motifs, or other symbols, on their foreheads also occur fairly frequently in the Riding. It is not possible to identify whatever may have been carved on the horizontal lowest face of the corbel: there is sometimes a human face looking out of the mouth, e.g. at Winestead.


Very unfortunately - and to the disgust of the retired archdeacon who was driving us on the visit in 2003 - a strip of lead has been added to the rim. Luckily, there is a photo in the Conway Library, copyright “S. Benson, Bridlington”, showing the font before this lead was added; it shows that the pattern does not extend onto the horizontal rim.

The addition of the metal trim is unusual, and the stonework should have been properly conserved before it was applied; presumably the lead was put there just to hold everything in place, a temporary measure which has become permanent. However, it does not seem that repairs were done, or if done, that they were properly done. On the visit in 2015, a short, but open, crack was noticed in the E side of the font; this also needs attention. This kind of fault in stone has been seen at Bugthorpe, on capitals of the chancel arch (chancel side) when plaster was removed.

The cable pattern on the rim could be compared to that on the Everingham font. This pattern at Bainton is made the same way, that is by scoring the three horizontal lines first, and then by making the diagonal cuts. It is rather more cablelike, with wider sections which are able to be very slightly rounded, whereas the Everingham patternmaker seems to be thinking of parallel lines, and the thinner sections are left slightly flatter. Further local comparisons are illustrated in Wood 2011, 119-122, where it is suggested that the development of the form of the cable pattern within the East Riding might provide a relative dating, as a pre-Conquest pattern evolved to become thoroughly rope-like, as elsewhere in England.

The irregular joining of the trellis pattern on the sides of the drum is a feature of the East Riding fonts, suggesting the craftsmen worked with minimum drafting tools. They may even have been basing their order of applying the pattern (vertical panels bodged together at the end) on the building of a wooden barrel.


  • J. E. Morris, The East Riding of Yorkshire, 2nded, 1919.

  • S. L. Ollard, Bainton Church and Parish, Beverley, 1934.

  • M. R. Petch, ‘A guide to St. Andrew’s Church and parish of Bainton, East Riding of Yorkshire’, 1986.

  • N. Pevsner and D. Neave, Yorkshire: York and the East Riding, 2nd. ed. London, 1995.

  • A History of the County of Yorkshire, iii, ed. W. Page, London, 1913.

Wolds landscape to NW of Bainton.
Bainton roundabout from the Minster Way footpath
The church tower.
Interior from the W.
Interior from the W.
South arcade, base of E respond


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SE 965 524 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, East Riding
now: East Riding of Yorkshire
medieval: York
now: York
now: St Andrew
medieval: St Andrew
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Rita Wood 
Visit Date
08 August 2003, 01 October 2015