St Mary’s is the tall elegant spire which can be seen towering above the trees for miles around. At 208’ high it is the tallest in the East Riding.
The church is a glorious C19th building commissioned by Lord Hotham and built to a design by JL Pearson who built twelve churches and restored many more in the area. It was planned to replace an earlier church in South Dalton and the redundant church of St Peter, Holme on the Wolds. it was completed in 1861 at a cost of £25,000. The huge sum reflects the intricate carving and detail on the stone and wood. The 1861 census record there were 32 stonemasons and craftsmen in the village out of a total population of 328.
The church is built in the Early English style with nave, chancel and transepts. There are no side aisles. It is worth walking round the outside of the church first to admire all the decorative stonework, particularly on the chancel.
Steps lead up to the south porch which has an ornate vaulted ceiling with foliage, fruit and flowers carved round the arch.
It is a huge church inside with tall pointed windows flooding the church with light. Eyes are immediately drawn to the chancel with its glorious Clayton and Bell window of the Last Judgement. Below is a blind arcade with carefully carved capitals and floral patterns under the arches. Round the top is an elaborately carved frieze of flowers.
The Hotham Chapel is off to the south and separated by a wrought iron screen. On the east wall is a Clayton and Bell window. On the walls are Hotham memorials. In pride of place in the centre is the tomb of Sir John Hotham who died in 1689, which was moved here from the old church. He is reclining on the top. Below is a skeleton, a reminder of man’s mortality. At the corners are figures depicting the cardinal virtues. Truth is holding a mirror. Fortitude is carrying a broken column. Temperance is holding a water pitcher and Justice holds a sword.
On the wall of the south transept are Hotham family hatchments.
The pews have beautifully carved tops with floral designs and fruit with lizards and dragons curled round them.
The church is a visual delight and it is easy to see why it cost so much. We tend not to like Victorian architecture, but this is an exception. it is a magnificent church.
The church is signed off the B1248, between Beverley and Wetwang. It is open daily and there is plenty of parking along the road outside. Steps lead up from the road through the gateway and there are more steps into the south porch.
There are more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/yorkshire/east_riding/east_three/south_dalton/index.html