Building » Holme-on-Spalding-Moor – St John the Baptist

Holme-on-Spalding-Moor – St John the Baptist

Holme-on-Spalding Moor, York, East Yorkshire

  • Gordon Hatton, Holme Hall from Church Hill

Highly important as an early private chapel built before the first Catholic Relief Act, most probably from designs by John Carr of York, a major regional architect. There is a fine Corinthian altarpiece, but the building is otherwise architecturally a little disappointing, following alterations carried out during the twentieth century.

The Holme estate was Constable property until the Reformation, when forfeited to the Crown. In the early seventeenth century the estate was acquired by a branch of the Catholic Langdale family. The mission at Holme had existed since 1661 and the Langdale’s built a chapel in 1766, daringly located on the ground floor. The family died out in 1900 and the chapel was bought by the Duchess of Norfolk (of Everingham Hall) and given to the Middlesbrough Diocese. In 1910 Franciscan nuns lived at Holme Hall, and in 1929 it became the Convent of the Oblates of the Assumption. According to Bryan Little (Catholic Churches since 1623), there was a fire in the chapel in the 1940s, which damaged the altarpiece and led to the loss of the picture in its round-arched recess. Since 1979 the Hall has been a Sue Ryder care home.


The church faces north but all references here follow conventional liturgical orientation.

The list description (see below) covers both the Hall and chapel and is inaccurate in one important respect, implying that the chapel is the range to the right of the entrance front of the Hall, when in fact this is the side chapel extension of 1938. This is cement rendered, with a Welsh slate roof and has a broad flight of steps up to a porch with pointed arched door and a plain parapet (not crow-stepped as stated in the list description). The gable above is also not crow-stepped. Plain round arched windows.

The chapel itself is hemmed in by buildings against or close to it. Brick with hipped Welsh slate roof. The windows on one side enclosed within a lean-to corridor that connects the side chapel to the house. The other side is blind and built up close to the northwest servants wing of the house. The entrance is under a lean-to canopy and via a lobby which also gives access to the house.

Inside the main chapel is a tall rectangular space with coved ceiling and dentil cornice. The north side has blind round-arched recesses and the south side has two round-arched windows (now looking into the corridor). A dentil impost band links the windows and blind arches but is broken by the crude trefoil-arched entrance into the side chapel (this was closed off and not inspected). One high-level round-arched window on the north side. The interior is dominated by the large Classical altarpiece with paired Corinthian columns and an open pediment, the proportions somewhat elongated. Within this, a round-arched recess formerly housing a painting. Floral drops either side of the arch. The high altar is a heavy marble affair of sarcophagus shape. Georgian domestic-style panelled door and surround into the sacristy. To the right of the altar a statue of the Virgin and Child on a heavy marble pedestal. Victorian margin-light coloured glass in the windows. At the west end of the chapel a glazed oak screen with stepped round-arched lights, probably dating from around 1930. Curious upright pews, open backed and with slender ends carved with geometric patters, probably circa 1930. Large oil painting in a gilt frame hanging on the west wall. Small octagonal stone font in the lobby.

List description


Country house incorporating chapel. c1720-30 to designs of William Wakefield for Lord Langdale,with chapel added in 1766 by John Carr and later servants’ wing. Brick, rendered to main wing and chapel, plain tile and Westmorland slate roofs. House to south, chapel to north-east, servants’ wing to north-west. Entrance facade: 2 storeys, 5-bay symmetrical facade with added bay to right. Pilasters to angles and between bay 5 and 6.
Central bay breaks forward and has pilastered porch containing double leaf door with overlight in architrave, surmounted by moulded cornice and by panel flanked by consoles. Plate-glass sashes throughout, those to ground floor in architraves, first-floor band, coved cornice and blocking course. Hipped roof and stacks rising through pitch of roof. To right of house and connected to it by a 2-bay linking passage with round-headed casements, is the chapel, its gable end to the drive. Splayed steps lead to pointed double leaf door in crow-stepped porch. Gable end contains semicircular window and is also crow-stepped. 4-round-headed windows to returns.Servants’ wing to extreme right: 2 storeys, 4 first-floor windows. C20 metal casements throughout except for French door to second bay of ground floor. Hipped roof. 

Interior: entrance hall is panelled and has Ionic pilasters to side walls, and a dentilled cornice. To left, the Bishop’s Parlour is panelled in similar fashion and has a pedimented fireplace with coved acanthus frieze. The main staircase is cantilevered and open string with 3 column-on-vase balusters to a tread, alternate columns being twisted. The underside of the head of the staircase is coved and has plaster swags and foliate motifs. Dining room: skirting board carved with acanthus motif. Dado rail and plain panelling. Elaborate doorcase with egg-and-shell motif to architrave and foliate frieze to overdoors. Fireplace: mantelpiece held on elaborate acanthus consoles. Foliate plaque to frieze. Richly carved pedimented chimney-piece with swags. Complex cornice with egg and acanthus motifs and carved modillions. Panelled plaster ceiling with foliate design. Second staircase: open string with cast-iron balusters. Back staircase: open string with 2 column-on-vase balusters per tread. Chapel: the main feature is the altar-piece in the form of a portico with open pediment supported by pairs of fluted Corinthian columns. Alcoves to side walls. Deep cornice and coved ceiling. 

Heritage Details

Architect: Probably John Carr of York

Original Date: 1766

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II*