YorlshireSKIPWITHStHelen(sarahcrossladSTAFF)1 SarahCrossland

St Helen

Open daily, this Anglo Saxon church is set in a wonderfully peaceful location and full of history with some rare features, a real gem!

Skipwith, Yorkshire

Opening times

Open daily 9am to 5pm.
Outside of these hours contact any keyholder, details in porch.


Main Street

The most striking feature is the Anglo Saxon Tower dated 960AD. However, archaeological investigations revealed remains of an earlier building, possibly dating back to the 7th or 8th century, an earlier church perhaps? Later in its history the church also had important connections to Durham priory and Howden collegiate church.

Within the vestry on the ground floor of the tower is the Ragnarok stone on which is carved a fascinating graffiti depicting a scene from Norse Mythology. It is thought to represent the Apocalypse.

On the first floor is the rare feature of a recess lit by a window in the south wall. It is speculated that it could have been an altar or have contained a reliquary and that the room may have been a priest’s or sacristan’s chamber. Access is limited but pictures are available.

The tower arch, outlined by double strip work and pilaster strips is a fine example of Saxon workmanship. From the tower one looks down the Norman nave with the north aisle built in 1190. This aisle has a series of 20th century memorial windows depicting John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

The 13th century south aisle saw the Lady Chapel added, recreated in 1960, with the medieval piscina (carved basin in which the chalice and patten used in communion were washed) and aumbry (a cupboard) situated on the south wall. The chancel was added in 1280. It has five great square headed windows with fragments of medieval glass including the arms of Antony Beck, Bishop of Durham. In Norman times a new doorway was built, and when the south aisle was added in the 12th century it was rebuilt in its present position. The door was restored in the 19th century with some of the ancient ironwork incorporated into it.

Outside on the first stage of the south wall of the tower there is the Bear stone, thought to be part of a piece of ecclesiastical furniture. Also on the first stage of the west wall you find a very worn early 9th century panel depicting ‘The Women at the Sepulchre on Easter Morning’.

The south wall of the churchyard has a heavily weathered collection of medieval grave slabs. A fine granite War Memorial stands just inside the gateway and commemorates those who lost their lives in both world wars.

  • Captivating architecture

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Famous connections

  • National heritage here

  • Spectacular stained glass

  • Wildlife haven

  • Accessible toilets in church

  • Café within 500m

  • Church shop or souvenirs

  • Dog friendly

  • Level access to the main areas

  • On street parking at church

  • Space to secure your bike

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • Weekly worship services.

  • Monthly cafe church.

  • Church festival celebrations.

  • Church of England

  • Foundation Grant, £2,300, 2019

  • Our Foundation Grants fund urgent maintenance work and small repairs to help keep churches open.

Contact information

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