Building » Carlton – St Mary

Carlton – St Mary

High Street, Carlton, near Selby, North Yorkshire

A modest, but well-executed early work of the prominent Yorkshire architect M.E. Hadfield, containing good quality later 19th  century furnishings, some by J.F. Bentley. The church and churchyard contain memorials to members of the ancient Stapleton family resident at nearby Carlton Towers.

Bryant de Stapleton founded a chapel in 1397 in memory of his wife and from then until 1842, Catholic worship took place at what is now Carlton Hall.  Thomas Thwing, last of the ‘seminary priests’ to be martyred in England (in 1680), was the cousin of Sir Miles Stapleton and chaplain at Carlton. Another Miles Stapleton (later the 8th Baron Beaumont) inherited Carlton from his aunt Lady Throckmorton in 1839 and began to rebuild it. His then chaplain, Rev. George Heptonstall wrote; ‘he told me very plainly that he wanted the chapel in the Hall for a library and requested me and the Bishop (Dr Briggs) to look out for a site for a new Chapel in the village of Carlton. I therefore bought an acre of freehold land of the Catholic family of Tindalls…for £200’.

Matthew Hadfield of the Sheffield architectural partnership of Weightman and Hadfield commenced the foundations in June 1841 and the completed church was opened on 31 August 1842 with a Solemn High Mass. William Bradley of Selby contracted for the stone and brickwork, Mr Bairstow of Selby for the woodwork; church  and  presbytery  together  cost  £2000.  By  her  will,  Lady  Throckmorton provided £1000 for the building and a total of £3750 in capital, the interest on which paid for memorial Masses for herself and her husband. The remaining debt was paid off in 1875. What remained of the mediaeval chapel was demolished in 1861 and the mediaeval churchyard cross re-erected to the north side of St Mary’s.

John  Martin  Robertson  (librarian  to  the  Duke  of  Norfolk)  has  evidence  for  an ‘embellishment, probably by Kelly, in 1875’ and for J. F. Bentley adding the altar and reredos soon after (as he was working on the Hall after 1876 and building workers’ cottages in Carlton too). The step of the platform at the east end of the nave contains a memorial to the 9th  Baron Beaumont, who died in 1892, but it probably existed before then; the large side altars were erected on it in 1904. The Lady altar on the south was first; the altar of the Sacred Heart followed, replacing a pulpit ‘enclosure’ accessed by a door through the wall behind (now only visible in the sacristy on the north side of the chancel). A smaller Sacred Heart statue formerly stood on a corbel immediately above the pulpit door.

In the 1980s, the fabric was repaired by Weightman and Brown of Acomb near York, successors of the original architects. The roof was re-laid using many of the original slates in 1983, followed by some stone and brickwork repairs. By 1992, the east end had been reordered, with new oak sanctuary furniture made by Joseph Brunyard of Chapel Haddesley. The interior had also been redecorated, although it had perhaps already lost the architectural stencilling (presumably of 1875) around windows and arches. From early 20th  century photographs, there was a traceried wooden chancel screen with a rood and what appears to be an icon, a small altar against the south chancel arch respond and another large statue against the north respond.

Although externally quite plain, the church stands well with the presbytery. The gable cross over the chancel arch is noticeably absent and the bell from the small southwest bell turret now sits forlornly – and vulnerably – on the ground west of the south porch. The three-light windows of the chancel and west nave are in Perpendicular style, the two-light windows of the nave Decorated. The presbytery appears to be mainly of 1842. Its small yellow brick link to the church has been extended as a red brick  lean-to  beneath  the  west  window,  connecting  to  a  single  storey  red  brick building to the northwest of the church, that was presumably a housekeeper’s cottage (and perhaps a lodge as well, as there is a double gate adjacent to it)? It has more recently been used as a parish centre. There is a small flat-roofed boiler house just below the west window, accessed from the lean-to.

There is no west door, entry always having been by the southwest porch. There is a west gallery on two extremely thin cast iron columns (not a ‘single column’ of the list description) with an organ of 1849, apparently of some historic value. Beneath, there is a diminutive late 19th century stone font standing on the tile floor in front of a large wall  memorial  to  Col. Herman  Stapleton  d1847;  a  confessional  to  the northwest corner and a glass case containing a biretta that belonged to Cardinal Hinsley, who was born and brought up in the village.

The numbered nave pews are presumably of 1842; their large poppy heads are of cast iron.  The  chancel  furniture  is   mainly  20th    century  (including  three  ‘Mousey Thompson’ chairs of 1947) but the lectern might be formed from the original stalls. The good brass Paschal Candle standing on three lions and the fine brass altar rail might also be of 1842. The hanging Crucifix might be adapted from that which stood on the chancel screen, but Christ’s drapery appears to have been changed. The east window stained glass (the Virgin flanked by St Augustine and St Gregory) is presumably of c1842; although of reasonable quality for its date, it seems quite crude against Bentley’s sophisticated reredos, canopied tabernacle and altar and the four stencilled saints above. The south chancel window contains an inscription recording Catherine Throckmorton as the foundress of the church.

The two large brasses on the nave walls have very similar outlines, though that on the south is of Mary, Queen of Heaven (commemorating Mary Ethel Stapleton d.1887) and  that on the  north  the 10th   Baron  Beaumont  d.1895  in his  Hussars  uniform. Flanking  the  1904  altars  are  stained  glass  windows  to  the  parents  of  Cardinal Hinsley; Bridget Hinsley d1890 on the south, Thomas Hinsley d.1898 on the north.

They are clearly from the same workshop and so of c.1900.

Heritage Details

Architect: Matthew Hadfield (Weightman and Hadfield)

Original Date: 1841

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: II*