St Mary the Virgin


A short history

An article by the late Eric Bailey, stalwart of St Mary's and local historian:


The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Nunthorpe 

By Eric Bailey

As a consequence of the large increase in population in the area of Nunthorpe Station from about 1900, the accommodation at the old Church in the village became inadequate and active steps were taken to provide a new Church. Tenders to a design by Mr. Temple Moore were on the point of being accepted in 1914 but the outbreak of the war put an end to all proposals of building. By 1924 the need for the new Church had become urgent following the erection of further residential property and new tenders were obtained to the same design and specification but owing to the increased cost of labour and materials the lowest tender received was about two-and-a-half times that received from the same firm in 1914.

 The contract was let to Messrs. John Thompson and Sons Ltd. Of Peterborough and the foundation stone was laid on the 6th November, 1924, by Sir Arthur Dorman who had given the land for the site.

 Hitherto, Nunthorpe had been ecclesiastically administered as part of Great Ayton Parish but it was considered desirable that a separate and larger Parish be constituted and this was done by adding to it parts of the Parishes of Marton, Ormesby and Great Ayton. 

Building proceeded throughout 1925 and the consecration by the Archbishop of York took place on the 20th July, 1926.

 The Church, which is technically in the Early English period of Architecture, is built in regular coursed ashlar of locally quarried sandstone, with a lightly tooled surface and has brown hand-made tiles on the steeply pitched roofs.

 The layout is conventional cruciform plan with a western porch which has above its entrance, set in a niche, a statue in white stone of the Virgin and Child. Tall lancet windows are seen in the body of the Church, with its chamfered plinth and stepped buttresses and this adjoins the dominant parapeted square tower at the crossing. Paired louvered windows open from the bell chamber and there is a simple spout on each of the four faces to drain the flat roof of the tower.

 The roof of the Chancel at the eastern end is higher than that of the nave due to the introduction of twin clerestory windows. Shallow transepts with gabled roofs run from the tower, that on the south being carried down to cover a recessed doorway. Under the clerestory windows tiled lean-to roofs complete the plan form by forming a side chapel to the south side and a sacristry and vestry on the north side. 

Inside the Church there is a central stone paved aisle in the nave and massive oak pews run on either side to the oak panelling which covers the walls to the bottom of the windows. The roof of the nave is of timber in the shape of a barrel vault with one tie beam on stone corbels.

 The crossing under the tower has a flat timber roof and the chamfered and moulded arches form a particularly strong feature. At the east side they spring from a pair of intersecting attached round columns and at the west are supported from one similar half column and a cluster of tapered pilasters. One step leads up to the Chancel and the simple carved pulpit on a round stone plinth on the left which contrasts with the decoratively carved lectern at the right hand side.

 The font in the south-eastern corner of the south Transept was originally situated in the traditional position, inside the door, at the western end of the Church but it was moved to its present position so that the congregation could participate more easily in the Christening ceremonies. 

The priest’s stall and the panelled choir seating were added in 1932 – a gift from Lady Dorman in memory of her late husband.

 The sanctuary is closed with a low timber communion rail with central gates of a similar design and is dominated by the large east window which comprises a group of three central lancets under one mould hood  with a single light on either side.

 The arch at the north is stone filled with a door to the vestry and the south wall has a shelved recess and piscina, and three sedilia built into the wall thickness. Like the font, the Altar has been moved from its original position against the east wall to allow the celebrant to face the congregation.

 There are two memorial inscriptions carved in stone – that over the south door being to the memory of Charles Dorman, who was one of the first two churchwardens and the other over the belfry door recording that the eight bells in the tower were erected to the memory of the Dorman family who had contributed so much for the Church.

 The bells are in the upper stage of the belfry and are fixed in a metal frame and the clappers strike the bells, being operated by wires and spring loaded handles from the ringing chamber immediately below.

 The stained glass window in the east side of the chapel to the memory of Andrew Hutton is by Hugh Eason.

 Many of the furnishings have been donated as memorials and a number of these are the work of the “mouseman”, Robert Thompson of Kilburn.

 At the south eastern end of the nave there is an inscription in the wood panelling recording the names of the Vicars of Nunthorpe.

 The Lych Gate at the entrance to the Churchyard was built as a memorial to all the men who fell in the Second World War and it was designed in the same style as the Church by the present firm succeeding Temple Moor. It was dedicated by the Bishop of Whitby on 6th July, 1947. The stone for the gate was obtained from Gunnergate Hall, Marton, which had recently been demolished and the oak work is also by Robert Thompson.

Eric Bailey, June 1976

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