« PreviousContinue »
Christianity made its way into these parts about A.D. 627, and the first church would be a wooden structure. About 1070 or 1080 a stone edifice would replace this in the Norman style. Of this fabric there are still some remnants in the north pier of the chancel, and in a few carved stones built into the porch. From the strength of this pier there may have been a low central tower. This early church would be without aisles. About the end of the 12th century, or early in the 13th, the north aisle was added, of which remains the arcade with its remarkable and beautifully carved capitals. Fifty years later saw the addition of a southern aisle, of which both the arcade and outer wall still exist. A chapel was added on the north side of the chancel in the 13th century, and then there seems to have been a pause in building for about a hundred years. Then the chancel was rebuilt, the clerestory put in, the grand west tower added, and new roofs to all parts of the church. There are one or two old windows, but nearly all tracery is modern, and as the windows have altered from time to time according to the prevailing fashion, it will be seen at once that the so-called restorations have only been partial. In 1854 the chancel was refaced with thin stone, and so is simply" veneered."
The style of the present building is Perpendicular, and its most striking feature is the tower. It is high, of three courses, well buttressed, with battlements, pinnacles, and a little turret. Each course is pierced with windows having rich hood mouldings, and that on the west side has at its apex a priest reading his service book, while the terminals have heads of two more ecclesiastics (perhaps deacon and subdeacon) all being, doubtless, caricatures of former vicars. The view from the top on a clear day is very fine, and will well repay the ascent of rugged steps.
There is a tradition that the stone used in building this church was brought from Acklam-on-the-Wolds.
The general condition of the fabric is bad, and urgently needs attention. It suffers from being crowded up by buildings, and though a row of cottages blocking up the west was pulled down in 1877, and the ground added to the churchyard, the further opening out would be an improvement and show the church to great advantage. It is a grand monument of past religious generosity, and Pockling
ton ought to be very proud of it. For more than 800 years has it been used for worship! What an heritage !
As regards its history the records are few and meagre. What ought to have been everyone's business became nobody's, and deeds belonging both to the Church and Grammar School have been lost or destroyed.
The town too has passed through no stirring scenes, for it is not on the direct road between York and Hull, but "all o' ya' side, like Gate Helmsley."
The church, which is cruciform in plan, stands due east and west, and consists of a chancel 54 feet by 20 ft. 6 in.; nave 75 ft. by 25 ft. 9 in.; western tower, opening into the church, 17 ft. 8 in. by 20 ft. 6 in.; north and south aisles running full length of nave and tower -the north 9 ft. wide, the south 11 ft. ; north transept 17 ft. 7 in. by 22 ft. 6 in.; south transept 18 ft. by 22 ft. 8 in. The north transept has an aisle 10 ft. wide, called St. Nicholas' Aisle, and it opens into the Lady Chapel on the north side of the chancel. This chapel measures 19 ft. 4 in. by 14 ft. 8 in. and is partly filled by the organ. To the east of the chapel and entered from the north side of the chancel is the sacristy. There is also a south porch. The full length of the church is 147 feet and its width across the transepts 71 ft. The clerestory gives to the interior a lofty and dignified appearance. There are two main entrances, west and south, an east vestry door, and there has been a south door into the chancel but it is built up. The south doorway of the porch is Early English and old. The porch, which was partly blown down by a gale, was rebuilt in 1884, and dedicated 6 May, 1885. It is floored with Minton tiles, subscribed for by the children of the parish. The doorway of the porch is partly new, and over it inside are inserted some zigzag moulding, a beak'shead and a cat's-head found in the roof of the old porch.
The chancel opens into the nave with an arch its full width, and to its haunches are still attached the projecting stones used in fixing the rood, while behind the pulpit can still be traced the doorway leading up to the loft.
The nave is separated from the aisles and transepts by pointed arches of four bays, the transept arches being very wide. All spring from massive circular pillars and have bood mouldings terminating on the south side in beak-heads, and on the north in corbels of grotesque heads. One
moulding has a carved head at its apex, as also had the others, but they are broken off. The south arches are more chamfered than the north. The capitals of the pillars on the south side have plain circular mouldings; on the north under each abacus are carved figures with branches, leaves and fruit. That nearest the east has a beast with human head meeting a bird with a beast's head. The next has two men crawling through branches and pomegranates, two men wrestling and a head. The third a full-length horizontal figure of a man, fruit, and foliage. fourth is merged in the tower wall, but has foliage. north transept is divided from St. Nicholas' Aisle by arches of two bays, and this aisle opens into the Lady Chapel by a single pointed arch, and into the chancel by a small but beautifully pointed arch, while the chapel communicates with the chancel by another pointed arch, which the organ-front nearly fills.
The tower is internal and opens into the nave by a magnificent pointed arch of striking dimensions, and by similar pointed arches into each aisle-but less in height, and chamfered. On the north-east pier are seven or eight stones with well-defined mason's marks, and the northwest pier is the Consecration Cross. The pillars supporting the tower are bold roll and hollow work, the capitals of which are most extraordinary. They are carved into 21 heads, no two being alike. Most of the faces are human, but two or three are animals; all are larger than life, and are mixed with foliage, scroll work, and other tracery. The countenances betoken mirth, laughter, comedy, tragedy, derision, defiance, horror, grief, pain, despair, &c.,-in short they are a finely preserved series of surprising distortions illustrating the period of ecclesiastical architecture when caricature so much prevailed in art. An organ-gallery and ringers' chamber used to hide these carvings until it was pulled down some 30 years ago; and the Rev. J. H. Wicksteed, the then vicar, had these pillars, &c., scraped and four cart-loads of paint and colour-wash were removed. The roof is flat and in a very bad state of repair.
Pocklington Church is the work of different dates: there is evidence to show that in the original design the aisles were to be groined, a priest's chamber in the tower and a bellchamber over it, while the roof would have been pitched and