Building record MYO1974 - St Oswald's Church


The church of Old St Oswald's, Fulford, was declared redundant in 1973 after a long period of decline following the erection of a much larger church in 1866, also dedicated to St Oswald more centrally-placed to development along the main York-Selby road. The redundant building was finally acquired in 1980 by Roy Grant, with permission to convert it into a domestic dwelling. Now known as St Oswald's Hall.


Grid reference SE 6042 4964 (point)
Map sheet SE64NW
Civil Parish Fulford, City of York, North Yorkshire
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (9)

Full Description

Church, now dwelling. Early C12 nave with probable earlier origins, conversion of later C12 chancel and tower of 1795. Magnesian limestone ashlar with pinkish-brown brick tower with red brick dressings and red fish scale roof. West tower originally in 2 stages, now in 3, 3-bay nave and 2-bay chancel.

Tower: plinth. Red brick quoins. 3-light C18 window opening to west side, now with late C20 casements under elliptical arch with red brick quoined jambs. Two inserted late C20 openings to upper stages under elliptical arches. Hipped roof. Late C20 octagonal stair turret abuts to north.

Nave: chamfered plinth. South entrance to first bay a late C20 plank door in round-arched opening with chamfered voussoirs to head and chamfered jambs. 3-light, straight-headed window in partly-recut, double-chamfered surrounds.

Chancel: pointed priest's doorway in chamfered surround. To north side of chancel 2 slit windows in chamfered surrounds. 3-light east window with Geometrical tracery to head. Roof of nave and chancel in 2 levels. Late C20 octagonal front stack to South side of chancel.

Interior: Chancel windows have deeply-chamfered surrounds with partly-covered voussoirs. Tile floor to chancel reputed to be C13 and from Jervaulx Abbey. Some C15 corbels and bosses.

Sources, Pevsner, N., Yorkshire, York and The East Riding, 1978, p. 233.
Listing NGR: SE6042949644

Derived from English Heritage LB download dated: 22/08/2005

The surviving fabric of the 'old' church, which was replaced in the 19th century, shows that it was built c. 1150. It was acquired by St. Mary's abbey, York, though it is not certain by what means. The right to the chapel may have derived from Count Stephen of Brittany's grant of Gate Fulford to the abbey c. 1100. Alternatively it may have derived from Count Alan's grant of St. Olave's church, York, to the abbey before 1086, and certainly after the Dissolution Fulford was dependent upon St. Olave's. Neither grant, however, mentions a chapel. In the Middle Ages both Fulford and St. Olave's were chapelries dependent upon the abbey. Fulford chapel was first expressly mentioned in 1349, when it was dedicated and its yard licensed for burial while the plague lasted. Gate Fulford burials otherwise took place at St. Olave's, a custom enforced by the abbey in 1398 after a man had been buried at Fulford. After the Dissolution, however, the churchyard at Fulford was again used, and at least by the mid 17th century baptisms and marriages also took place at Fulford. It was nevertheless still described as a chapelry of St. Olave's in the earlier 18th century. By the 19th century it was styled a perpetual curacy and by 1872 a vicarage.

The 'old' church of ST. OSWALD, in St. Oswald's Road, consists of chancel, nave, and west tower. It has been suggested that the nave was built c. 1150 and the chancel added c. 1180, the rubble masonry of the chancel being built up against the finer ashlar of the nave. Two original windows survive in the north wall of the chancel and there is a plain 12th-century doorway in the nave. The chancel east window, of three lights, dates from the 14th century and two large square-headed windows in the nave south wall and a smaller one in the chancel south wall from the 17th. The north wall of the nave has been rebuilt without openings. The 'steeple' of the church was in decay in 1577 and the surviving brick tower is thought to have been built c. 1795, when a faculty was obtained to erect a vestry beside the belfry and to insert a west gallery. A faculty of 1809 authorized new pews to be provided and a new pulpit erected, and the plastered ceilings are of the same period, although the roofs may be earlier. The church was roofed with fishscale tiles c. 1870 and there is a lych-gate dated 1890. There is one bell. The interior has been partly stripped of its fittings.

Burials under the church floor are mostly of members of manorial families, the earliest apparently being those of John Redman (n.d.) and John Taylor (d. 1705). The earliest headstone in the churchyard dates from 1740.

Derived from A P Baggs, G H R Kent and J D Purdy, 'Fulford', in A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 3, Ouse and Derwent Wapentake, and Part of Harthill Wapentake, ed. K J Allison (London, 1976), pp. 29-36.

A plan of the graveyard and list of the inscriptions was made when the church was declared redundant. Since a large number of headstones from the southern part of the church yard were moved in the early months of 1980 it was necessary to up-date this plan and to record the current location.

Initial trenching through the graveyard to provide services for the property was shallow and followed the course of the present church-yard path. Although dug through disturbed grave material for much of its length, intact burials were encountered at the extreme base of the trench only, the remainder of the material representing the disturbance to be expected within a graveyard in continuous use for hundreds of years. The most interesting discovery during this part of the work was a keeled Roman coffin lid lying upside down some two metres south of the south doorway of the church, oriented east-west. It had, most probably, been reused as a cover for a medieval or later grave but its size and weight dictate that its original site is unlikely to have been far from the church.

Excavation by Professor Philip Rahtz and Lorna Watts on the site of foundations for a new staircase tower in the north-west angle between tower and nave revealed, amongst other things, a massive cobble filled trench over one metre wide. Demonstrably earlier than any phase of the church itself this cobble feature was also recorded by the Trust in the north-west corner of the nave prior to the installation of a modern drainage system. Although severely cut by graves and by the foundation trenches of the standing building enough of the feature remained externally to suggest that it had supported a structure on an alignment similar to that of the church but further to the west. Fragments of water-worn Roman tile found amongst the cobbles would perhaps suggest that the feature is post-Roman whilst the stratigraphic position argues for a pre-Conquest date. Excavation outside also demonstrated the existence below the 18th-century brick tower of roughly coursed stone foundations. That these were of a later date than the 12th century nave was shown by the presence in one of the lower courses of part of the chamfered water table from the nave. Two pieces of 18th-century brick within the upper two courses of this foundation point to some interference at this date but the weight of the evidence would still suggest that these foundations were originally constructed to support a stone tower of perhaps 13th or 14th-century date. Unfortunately there is no historical documentation relating to any tower at all at St Oswald’s.

The structure of the church had never been adequately recorded and it was felt that although the exterior could be safely left as it was to remain unaltered by the conversion a record of the internal surfaces of the walls which were to be obscured for the foreseeable future would be a worthwhile
task. This was done by means of measured drawings and rectified photography and the results tended to confirm our fears that whilst the structure was basically a simple one of rectangular nave with a rectangular chancel added at a slightly later date on a slightly different alignment, part
of both had been drastically rebuilt to such a degree that little of the original structure remained ‘intact. It is evident, for instance, that the east wall of the chancel, containing a fine early 14th-century window with two-centred heads and chamfered reveals above three trefoiled lights, has been rebuilt at least three times. Internally this shows as off-sets to the wall, required as it was pushed outwards by movement in the roof timbers, although externally there is less to show as the original masonry was re-erected each time, if occasionally in the wrong place. The final rebuild of this wall involved the removal of part of the three window lights to lower the top of the window so that a barrel-vaulted ceiling could be inserted in Victorian times.

Several interesting fragments of stonework were removed after the recording process was complete so that they can be studied before their eventual return to the church. Part of the shaft of a churchyard cross of late 10th or early 11th-century date was recovered from the north wall of the nave and
whilst not being either in first class condition or a good example of its type is nevertheless further evidence of settlement in the area in pre-Conquest times. A finely executed scalloped capital. removed from a stub wall construted where a chancel arch might once have stood was also an unusual
find from such a church. It seems unlikely that its origin is this church at all and it may well form part of the large body of stonework which was removed from York Minster after the disastrous fire of 1829 and has since found its way into so many structures in and around York. Examination of the church was made possible by the close co-operation of the owner, Mr Roy Grant, his architect Patrick Lorimer, and the contractors, Messrs Kilvington and Young.

Brinklow, D. 1980. Out of Town. In Interim Vol 7. No. 3. York Archaeological Trust. pp. 29-34

NMR Information

BF035259 ST OSWALD'S CHURCH, FULFORD File of material relating to a site or building. This material has not yet been fully catalogued.

NMR, NMR data (Unassigned). SYO2214.

Sources/Archives (1)

  • --- Unassigned: NMR. NMR data.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Mar 13 2020 10:42AM


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