St Mary’s Church

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Fridaythorpe is the highest village on the Yorkshire Wolds at 500’. The church is at the northern edge of village overlooking the rolling Wolds countryside.

It is a very attractive small, squat Norman building. The nave and chancel were built in the early C12th and the tower later. In the C13th a north aisle was added and clerestory windows added to the nave. In the C17th the church was in poor condition and the north aisle was demolished. Further repairs were needed in the C19th. In 1902-3, Sir Tatton Syles II of Sledmere House paid for a major restoration. The north aisle and south porch were rebuilt. The north aisle had to be completely rebuilt again in 1999 due to structural failures and the south porch was rebuilt in 2010.

The low sturdy tower at the west end still has a small Norman window. The splendid clock dates is dated 1903 and has the motto “Time is short. Eternity is long”. The church is a long low building with a flat roofed nave and chancel and a big south porch.

Inside the porch is a splendid Norman doorway with round pillars with elaborately carved capitals and carved capitals and three rows of chevron carving around the arch. There is another row of chevrons on the inside of the door in the church.

At the back of church inside the door is a big Norman font with the remains of carving round bowl. A very tall and narrow pointed arch leads into the base of the tower. There is a stone roll of honour with names of the dead from the First World War on the back wall and an old bell stands near the door.

Across the back of the nave is a C19th wooden screen which extends along the north aisle, behind the arcade of low round pillars with pointed arches. Above are small square clerestory windows with images of angels. The windows in the north aisle have figures of Old Testament Partriarchs and Prophets. The south wall has a large window with images of the four evangelists and a small window of John the Baptist.

The nave has a wood beam ceiling with large square carved bosses with leaves and flowers. The simple wooden pews in nave have trefoliate carved ends. The north aisle is empty and is used as meeting space for the village or when the church is full.

There is a lovely Norman chancel arch with chevron carving and a small figure set at the top. The capital on the north side are beautifully carved. Above is painting of the crucifixion and to the right is the remains of very small portion of the ten commandments.

Across the chancel arch is a C20th rood screen with panels at the bottom and simple tracery above. To the right is a carved wooden pulpit.

The chancel quite dark compared with rest of church as it is only lit by two small windows on south wall. One is has an image of the Virgin Mary, the other of St James the Great. There is a light switch to the right of the wooden screen below the chancel arch.

The chancel is tiny and there is only room for two carved priest’s chairs facing altar. Steps lead up to C19th altar and reredos from Sledmere Church and was brought here during the 1902/3 restoration. The base of the altar has a crowned Virgin and Child in the centre with an angel on either side.

Above is the glorious carved wood triptych with an integral host box. Behind is the remains of the blocked east window. In centre is Christ the King with two kneeling angels at his feet. On either side are the four evangelists set under canopied arches. The doors have four carved panels each with an angel holding a shield with the instruments of the passion.

To the right of the altar is rather a nice C18th carved wood credence table. There is a sedilia under the south window and an aumbry and piscina on the south wall.

This is a very attractive church and feel really intimate. Make sure you find the light switch for the chancel.

The church is open daily and is on church lane which is the Burdale road at the northern end of the village. There is a large rough parking area opposite. A grassy path leads to the south porch and there is a sign warning of dangerous grave stones. There are steps up into the porch and then down into the church.

There are more pictures “here.”:

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