YorkshireNUNBURNHOLMEStJames(stevenrufflesCC-BY-SA2.0)1 StevenRuffles

St James

With its ancient stone cross carved by Anglo-Saxon and Viking sculptors, its Norman arch and medieval font and stained glass windows, the church spans a millennium; cross the threshold and feel yourself stepping back in time.

Nunburnholme, Yorkshire

Opening times

Open every day, 10am until 5pm.


Church Lane
YO42 1QU

St James comprises a chancel, a nave, a west tower and a south porch. It is located at the south west edge of Nunburnholme village. Prior to 1066 the church was at the centre of the settlement at Nunburnholme. If there was a church building, it was most likely made of wood with a thatch roof. The Anglo-Saxon stone cross discovered in 1872 shows that the location was a consecrated site well before the stone church we see today was built.

Nunburnholme was abandoned following William the Conqueror’s wasting of the north. The village was re-established on the south side of the beck. Later, the village moved to the north side of the beck. These movements explain the church's position at the edge of today’s village.

The stone church of today was built in the reign of Henry the Third (1207-1272) by Roger de Morley as the priory church of the Bendictine nunnery of St Mary, its site being about 800 metres to the north east of the church. The church was restored in 1872-73 by architect George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878), whose work includes the Albert Memorial.

During this restoration two pieces of the stone cross shaft were discovered. The carved faces of the cross shaft include Anglo Saxon Christian figures, an unusual haloed warrior, and later pagan Viking and Norman additions.These two pieces were rejoined and the cross now stands inside the church at the base of the tower. Researchers have discovered that the cross has been mounted back to front!

The Norman arch, originally the chancel arch, was relocated and used as the tower arch. The tower was rebuilt in 1902 by Temple Moore (1856-1920) who was articled to George Gilbert Scott. The tower was dedicated as a memorial to the Revd Francis Orpen Morris (1810-1893), rector of St James from 1854 to 1893. A famous ornithologist, he wrote several volumes on birds and was responsible for starting the movement for the protection of birds. He was succeeded by his son, Marmaduke Morris (1844-1935) as rector. Marmaduke was also a prolific author and wrote many books on Yorkshire life.

  • Captivating architecture

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Famous connections

  • Social heritage stories

  • Wildlife haven

  • Accessible toilets in church

  • Dog friendly

  • Level access throughout

  • On street parking at church

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • Church of England

  • Foundation Grant, £5,000, 2019

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

  • Foundation Grant, £1,470, 2022

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

Contact information

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