St Edith’s Church

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Bishop Wilton is a lovely village on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds with a small shop and a pub. A small beck flows down through the village between wide grassy banks. The medieval Archbishops of York had a palace here. Now all that is left are the remains of the moat and fish ponds.

The church is set back off the road, through the lych gate. The solid square battlemented tower supports a 120’ tall spire. This is unusual as it is built over the end of the nave rather than beside it.

There has been a church here since Norman times and the Norman south doorway and chancel arch still survive. The side aisles were added in the C14th. The church was in a ruinous condition in the C19th and was one of those in the area restored by Sir Tatton Sykes of Sledmere House. The work cost between three and four thousand pounds. He used Jl Pearson to oversee the work. This was a good choice as Pearson was known for keeping as much of the original material as possible.

This can be seen in the south door. The greyer stone is the original C12th work. The lighter, yellower stone is the C19th replacement pillars with carved capitals support the carved arches with beak heads, animals and human figures.

The Norman chancel arch is equally impressive. Beneath it is a 19thC ironwork screen replacing the traditional rood screen.

An arcade of pillars with pointed arches separate nave and side aisles. Above is a hammer beam roof which has been painted in red and green with gold leaf leaf decoration.

Above the altar is a painted triptych with the crucifixion in the centre. Behind are three Norman windows with C19th glass.

The black and white mosaic floor is most unusual and is said to be based on a design in the Vatican. Apparently the floor as brought from Italy in prefabricated sections. Patterns were drawn onto a backing paper and the tesserae glued face down onto this. Once the flooring was installed, the paper was removed.

The pulpit is typical of C19th work. The font dates from 1902 and has carvings of saints around the bowl. The tall elegant spire lid has carvings of the four evangelists with the four doctors of the western church (St Gregory, St Augustine of Hippo, St Jerome and St Ambrose).

This is a most attractive church and well worth finding. It is open daily and there is parking along the road outside.

Therre are more pictures “here.”:

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