Site last updated 16/07/2021 16:24:45
12th century church
One of many churches built in the 12th century to bolster the Norman regime, its foundation is attributed to Bertram de Bulmer of Sheriff Hutton Castle
Little parish church
This attractive little parish church with its imposing wooden tower, unique in Yorkshire, tells the ever-
The tower was erected to house a peal of 3 or more bells – deemed a necessity for churches from 1400 onwards. The inscription on one bell –
“GOD SAVE THIS NEVILLE. REMEMBER THY END AND FLEE PRIDE. 1593”
is a sombre reminder of the downfall of the family following their involvement in the ill-
In 1160 Geoffrey de Neville inherited Raskelf. His descendants, including Richard III, sometimes resided at their 14th century hall and have left evidence in the church of their rise, reign and fall. The original early Norman ‘tub’ font with its smooth symmetry is a tribute to the mason’s skill.
Early woodwork -
The elegant font cover, the base of the altar table, and the altar-
The church’s structure reveals many 14th and 15th century alterations and extensions, including the nave and chancel, of which the original ‘piscina’ (stone basin) remains set into the south wall.
Stained glass -
In the tracery of the east windows can be seen richly coloured fragments of the fine 14th century stained glass windows including complete shields, denoting the might of the Nevilles and the powerful family alliances which they had made (and sometimes betrayed).
Despite the lofty status of the Neville family, the 14th century glazier, with true medieval mischief, has painted cartoon faces in the scallop shells of the Dacre shield in the east window.
Early woodwork -
At the back of the nave are rustic, oak poppy-
Pews and poppy heads
There are remains of old pews and “poppy heads” in the chancel & the altar rails are 17th century. The font at the back of the church is Norman.
The story of 16th and 17th century iconoclasm and desire for ‘purity’ can be seen here in the church surroundings. For example, the shaft of the ancient church yard cross, cut down to the obligatory 4ft 6ins; the stained glass fragments; the stripped chantry chapel; and the repairs on the font rim, where the medieval lid locks were wrenched out.
By the early 19th century the church, like many others, was rapidly ‘hastening to ruin’ (Baines 1823) but, following the Oxford movement revival of the 1830s, rebuilding was contemplated and some work carried out.
In pursuit of greater decorum in services, the west end gallery and local musicians were replaced by the choir stalls in the chancel and robed choristers (who marked out their initials in the woodwork).
Bier at the lych gate
A bier was acquired to transport coffins from the lych gate into the church (it is still kept in the north aisle).
Marble memorials were erected, one to a fallen hero of the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ – Augustus Webb . In 1876 his family sold their Raskelf estate to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
During the 19th century the long overdue restoration and rebuilding took place. The tower was repaired, slightly tapered, re-
The two world wars are commemorated by a red granite memorial cross, two 1914, hand-
Since the 19th century many beautifully crafted gifts have been given to the church – the early 20th century lych gate and the poignant east window; not forgetting funds raised to restore the tower in 1954 and the windows in 2010.
A list of the vicars of Raskelf since 1477 on the wall just inside the door.
Raskelf village is built on cross roads and lies to the north-