St Thomas a Becket

The early history of church life in Hampsthwaite is far from clear and is to some extent based on supposition.

Hampsthwaite, Yorkshire

Opening times

The church is open daily, during British Summertime, usually between 9am to 5pm.

Address

Church Lane
Hampsthwaite
Yorkshire
HG3 2HB

The best evidence of its existence in the 5th and 6th centuries lies in the discovery of a number of stone grave covers identified as Saxon or early Norman in design and workmanship. Several had been incised with crosses in the Celtic style. 

The first known church to be built here was probably completed about 1180 and is believed to have been constructed by Hugh de Morville the then Constable of Knaresborough Castle and one of the four knights responsible for the murder at Canterbury in 1170 of Archbishop Becket.

We know that, after their victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, the Scots invaded the Dales area and damaged a number of churches. Hampsthwaite Church was probably destroyed in the period 1318-19 and then rebuilt sometime between the middle of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th centuries.

There are no precise details of the design of the church, but when it was pulled down in 1820-21 it appeared to have been enlarged or altered at least three times

The two sepulchral stones near the west door and behind the lectern are identified as Saxon or early Norman in origin. They both have Celtic crosses carved on them. Others, with a variety of crosses, are set in the walls of the porch. One carving is thought to be that of a fish.

The earliest memorial stone is set in the floor of the pulpit. An unusual feature is the carving of crossbones, which presumably would have been combined with a skull, the old warning of death.

The large rough stone font is believed to be from the Norman period and is certainly the oldest relic from the early church. The most unusual memorial in the church is the brass mounted in the north wall of the chancel. It contains a figure and an inscription and may be compared with the great Flemish brasses at Kings Lynn and Newark.

This pulpit is probably the only one to have been used in the church and is thought to be made from Jacobean oak. Some of the woodwork from the 14th and 15th centuries was almost certainly destroyed at the time of the building of the 1820 church. Fortunately, one of the most interesting items, the churchwardens pew, was retained. In the sanctuary are two high back oak chairs of the Elizabethan period.

  • Spectacular stained glass

  • Magnificent memorials

  • Glorious furnishings

  • Fascinating churchyard

  • Captivating architecture

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • Space to secure your bike

  • Parking within 250m

  • On street parking at church

  • Level access to the main areas

  • Dog friendly

  • Accessible toilets nearby

  • Church of England

Contact information

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