A History of Seamer Church and Parish


A History of Seamer Church and Parish


St. Martin's Church, Seamer, North Yorkshire
Transcription of the Church History in the Church.

This Church is dedicated to St Martin Bishop of Tours. There was a Priest & Church here in
Saxon times but all trace of a Saxon Church has long since disappeared. The original
Church was built shortly after the Norman Conquest and consisted of a chancel. nave & tower
probably surmounted by spire. All that now remains of this Norman Church is the nave & part of the
chancel, including the Norman Arch separating the nave from the choir. The Church was originally
lighted by four Norman windows on the north of the nave, & four on the south, of which now there
only remains intact the two Norman Arched windows in the nest of the south wall. The original
four windows on the north wall have been shortened by the arches of the nave which were added
in the 14th century. The orginal Chancel was a square of exactly sixteen feet and was lighted
by a window on the north, (now blocked up) and a corresponding window on the south side sub-
sequently destroyed by the present south window. The east end was lit by two Norman Windows
of a similar design to that of the present existing north window. When the chancel was elongated in the 14th
century, the materials which constituted the original East end were incorporated in the newly
elongated chancel, built into the masonry of the present east end of this chancel there can be
still identified the capitals of the arches which constituted part of the original windows. The base of the
Tower which was rebuilt in 1846 has been described as of Norman structure, & it is fair to assume
that the original tower was of Norman construction. That the tower was evidendly surmounted
by a spire may be assumed, as the earliest representation of Seamer Church in 1685 shows that the Church
originally had a spire. It was struck by lightning in 1710 and a few years later authority was granted
for its destruction on account of its danger to the public. Drastic alterations were made in the structure
of the building in the 14th century, when by the will of Henry Lord Percy, a chanty was founded in the
Church. In order to construct this chantry, the old Norman north wall was ruthlessly penetrated by
arches which consideraby endangered its security, as the old buttresses were cut off, with the
result that the old Norman wall has not the strength to bear the pressure of the roof. At the same
time opportunity was taken to lengthen the chancel and to insert the present large windows on the
south side of chancel and nave. A Priest's Vestry was also constructed which contains an
aumbrey for the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. Further restorations have been carried out
notably in 1686, 1846, 1886, which have not interfered with the fabric except for the building
of the modern tower in 1846. The following are the chief points of interest to be noted in the Church
1 The Porch erected probably in the 14th Century, the entrance was originally surmounted by a statue of the
Virgin & child, which has been replaced by a sundial erected at the commencement of the last century
2 The doorway from the porch to the Church which is a good example of Norman work removed
probably from the entrance of the nave to the tower. It is of two columns, but it would appear to have
originally consisted of three columns, the third having been destroyed. 3 The doorway of oak is
of the 15th century, as is also the scrollwork of the hinges. There still remains the holes on each side
of the doorway for the insertion of a wooden beam to prevent the intrusion of unauthorised persons.
4 The pulpit which contains panels of Jacobean work which are said to have belonged to a
neighbouring church . 5 The Piscina near the pulpit which seems to indicate the existence of an
altar in place of the present pulpit. 6 The Gargoyle on the pillar, on the east pillar of the nave which
may have originally supported a light. 7 The Stairs leading to the original Rood loft discovered on the
removal of the plaster to the Church walls in 1887. 8 The Bell now displayed at the opening of the
rood loft to the nave. This bell which bears the date 1348 was discovered at the Railway Station in
1900, it was undoubtedly Sanctus bell which actually hung in the cote outside the Church, although
mutilated by a cut, it was still used till 1848, when owing to its unmusical sound it was substituted
for a sound bell by the Church warden - who being the Station Master of the newly opened station on the
line from Scarborough to York, considered that it would be of more use as a call bell at the Station
9 The remains of the Ancient stained glass in a pane in the window of the aisle. This 14th century glass must have
actually formed part of larger, design now destroyed. 10 The screen which bears the arms of the Napier Family, was placed in the Church
probably during the storation of 1686 at which times the Napiers were Lords of the Manor. 11 The Oak Table in the
Priests Vestry - which till 1886 was used as the Communion Table. It is of the date of the early 17th century and has
a foot rest. The Registers date back to the 16th century, and a transcript is now to be found in the British Museum.
They contain the original instructions issued during the Rebellion as to the method of perjury marriages. 12 The
old monumental brasses have unfortunately all been destroyed though one still remains in the Choir-vestry to the
memory of Lady Gates wife of Sir Henry Gates. She died in 1572 at Seamer. The brass besides recording her virtues,
traces her descent from Edward the III. The presentation of the original Rectery was in the hands of the Percy
family but owing to the impoverishment of the district by the invasion of the Scots. William de Percy, in 1323
presented the Rectory to the Abbott of Whitby, and from that date till 1479 the advowson was in the hands of the Abbott of Whitby when
it reverted to Henry Earl of Northumberland. The Manorial rights having been acquired by Sir Henry Gates in the
Reign of Queen Elizabeth, the presentation to the Vicarage remained in that family until 1627 when a Mr Henry Mompression
appointed the Vicar. From him, the presentation passed to the Rapier family who sold it to the Duke of Leeds, who sold the
advowson with the Seamer estate to Joseph Denison who left it to his descendants, who are now retpresented by the
Earl of Londesborough. However the earl of Londesborough of the time exchanged the living with the Archbishop of
York who is now the Patron of the living. Not only is the present incumbent Vicar of Seamer, East Ayton, Cayton,
Deepdale and Killerby, but he is also Rector of Irton, as all these townships form Part of the Ecclesiastic Parish.

Transcribed by Colin Hinson © 2020
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