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 A History and tour of St Mary's Church, Myton on SwaleSt. Mary's Myton on Swale

Click here for a photographic tour of the church

 Link to the Church Website - which provides contact details etc

The Church of St Mary stands on the centre of this tiny North Yorkshire village. The churchyard is bounded on one side by the River Swale, with the meadows stretching be-yond. The river here is near the end of its journey for, after skirting the village, it joins with the River Ure and soon becomes the Ouse.

Myton is a place of some historic interest; it was here that the famous encounter between Scots and English, known for ever after as the "White Battle" because of the number of ecclesiastics who took part in it under William de Melton, Archbishop of York, was fought in 1319.

One of the most unusual manor houses in the area is to be found in Myton - Myton Hall, a 17th century replica of a small French chateau. Standing in a beautiful park it was the home of the Stapylton family from the time of Charles I. Myton has many historical connections and many people, other than fishermen, find their way to this beautiful and tranquil spot, especially now that the bridge, originally built in 1868, was restored in 2003.

The early history of the church is somewhat obscure. We do know that a deep dispute arose at the close of the 12th century, when the Treasurer of St Peter‟s in York claimed it as his fee and a chapel dependent on the Church at Alne. The Abbot of St Mary‟s in York, however, maintained that it was itself a mother church and within his fee. A compromise was reached by which the monks paid an annual sum of three shillings to the Treasurer in return for his waiving of all rights. The Church was appropriated to St Mary‟s and vicarage was established in 1301.

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries the patronage fell to the Crown and in 1545 the Rectory and Church with the advowson of the vicarage were granted in exchange to Robert, Archbishop of York.

Various stones have been used in the building and some can still be identified as Roman, which, together with some of the bricks, were probably taken from the ruins of Isurium (Aldborough), having fire marks still on them. Aldborough is in the other side of the river, and there was for long a ferry here.

The chancel and nave date from the early 13th century and other work from the 19th century. The tower was built within the Church, almost hiding the western arch of the arcade, which leads to a narrow aisle. By the middle of the 19th century the Church was in a very poor state; after very firm pressure from the Archbishop it was restored between 1886-1888.

The east end of the chancel was built within a three-light window of 15th century character, and other walls, doorways and windows were also reconstructed. Local craftsmen fitted new seating, panelling, furniture and other fitments. Hodgson Fowler of Durham was the restoration architect. The Archbishop re-dedicated the Church on 4th April, 1888 and the centenary was celebrated in 1988.

Thomas Gibson, of Myton, carved the oak reredos, a gift of Miles Stapylton, in 1904. The porch, on the south side, was added in 1908. The lovely paintings on canvas against the East wall are the C.H. Schwanfelder; painted in 1805 they depict the „Crucifixion and the Resurrection, with the angel appearing before the soldiers‟. There were restored by Fred Parker of York in 1970-71.

The East window, "The Annunciation.‟ dates from 1888 and is by C.E.Kempe of Lon-don, who was also responsible for the South window in the chancel of Saints Peter and Paul. The Moses and Aaron window in the north aisle is 18th century by William Peckitt of York. Arthur Mee in his Kings's England book refers to this rich glass and how „in a lovely window to one of the Stapyltons we see St George with banner and sword, and St Nicholas with three boys looking at the apples he is holding. Another striking window has a king with sceptre and orb, and St Martin on a black horse, sharing his cloak with a beggar.‟

The tower of brick faced with stone is not square, being wider from north to south than is from east to west. It contains three bells, all dating from 1805. Under the tower there is a coffin lid of the 13th century bearing a well-preserved cross in high relief. In 1994 the lower plaster work was removed to show the stone work around the coffin lid. New curtains and carpets have been added and a lovely old altar frontal framed and hung on the south wall.

The Church is greatly beautified by a group of hatchments and creed and command-ment boards. Between 1991 and 1994 these were also restored by Fred Parker of York. The five hatchments belong to the Stapylton family; the two earliest are of the Revd Sir Martyn Stapylton, 7th Baronet, who died in 1801 and his wife Leckie, who died in 1797. The motto is „Resurgam‟ and both have funereal black surrounds. Another is probably of Sir Martin Stapylton, the 18th and last Baronet of Myton; he died in 1817. The remaining hatchments are of Martin Stapylton, son of the Revd John Bree and Ann Stapylton, who took the name of Stapylton on succeeding to the Myton Estates in 1817, dying in 1842, and of his son Stapylton who died in 1864.

The organ, built by Harper Bros of Brighton in 1897, was donated by Mrs Stapylton of Myton Hall in memory of her husband. It was fully restored in 2003 by John Clough and Son of Bradford, the costs being met by grants, donations and fund raising. The building and much of the churchyards are kept in excellent order by voluntary helpers.

A lovely and harmonious building, Myton Church is a worthy setting for Christian worship and takes its rightful place at the heart of this tiny village. Visitors will find it well worth their time and will, we hope, leave delighted and refreshed

This short history of Myton Church was first published in April 1988 to mark the Centenary of its restoration, and was updated in October 1994. This edition was first published in the Spring of 2000 for Myton‟s Millennium Flower Festival.

Material for the pamphlet was provided by Mrs June Hall, Churchwarded, and then Vicar, The Revd John D Harris-Douglas. It has been supplemented from the Victoria County History of the North Riding, and from Arthur Mee‟s The King's England - Yorkshire, North Riding.


In addition, a framed sheet on the interior wall states: 

The Church is of a Norman foundation, possessing a 13th Century chancel ad nave. The exact date of the tower is not known but it was definitely built within the early 13th century Church, probably from the 15th Century.

The west wall of the tower was built on top of the existing wall.

The Church was practically rebuilt in the 17th Century and heavily restored in 1897 - 1888. The latter work included rebuilding the East wall of the chancel and the South Wall of the Nave - converting the windows from pointed to square, a new roof on the nave and pinnacles on the tower.

New pews were made by local craftsmen and a heating system was installed. The architect for this work was Hodgson Fowler of Durham. The Church was re-dedicated by the Archbishop of York on 4th April 1888.

Other additions include the organ in memory of Major Stapylton after 1897. The porch was a memorial built in 1908. Oak Reredos carved by Mr. Gibson 1904. The clock was installed in 1920 as a 1914 - 18 war memorial.

 Items of interest include:

  • An excellent 13th Century Norh Arcade with trefoil and quatrefoil inserts
  • Blind niche window with detached columns in South wall of the Chancel
  • Transitional window in the North wall of the Chancel
  • Two paintings on canvas on each side of the East window, one of the Crucifixion, the other of the Angel appearing before the soldiers signed by C.E. Schwanfelder.
  • The tower, which is built of brick faced with stone, is not square being wider from North to South than from East to West.
  • Early 18th Century altar rails and Chancel arch rails. The priests stall incorporates old batasters from the 18th Century railing though the bulk of the work in Victorian
  • The carved pew ends were done by a local joiner, Thomas Gibson - his name is engraved in small print in the middle of the pulpit.
  • Late 18th Century memorial tablet on the South wall of the Chancel
  • Private pew to the Stapylton family
  • Superbly lettered prayer and commandment boards on the west wall of the nave.
  • Five hatchment boards
  • Stained glass Easit window by C.E. Kempe of London
  • North transept window by Comper
  • The Moses and Aaron windows at South end of the North aisle is 18th Century by Pecket.
  • Medieval coffin lid set in West wall of the Tower with foliated cross
  • The upper floor of the tower contains three bells set in an oak A frame dated 1805.
  • Two of the bells bear the following inscription:-Thomas Mears & Son, London 1805
  • The third tenor bell bears the inscription:-   These bells were the gift of Sir Martin Stayplton Bart 1805, Matt Curtiss, R.D. Smith; Church Wardens, Thomas Mears & Son of London Fecit.
  • The pinnacles put on the tower in 1888 had to be removed about 1975 because they were in danger of falling.


 A pictorial tour of St Mary's Church, Myton on Swale

(Click on a thumbnail for a larger image.)

 Click for larger image    
 Interior view
from rear
to north east
 Interior view
from rear to south east
 Impressive nave and east side  
Staypltons coats of arms    
Painting of Angel before the soldiers
by CE Schwanfelder
Painting of the Cruxifiction
by CE Schwanfelder
Impressive East window
by C E Kempe of London
  Church organ in memory of Major Stapylton of Myton Hall
 List of vicars at Myton from 1300
(large file of 632kb)
Comandment boards Prayer boards    






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