St Margaret & St James

Pre Norman building of Dufton red sandstone with a fine carved hammer beam chancel ceiling, 11th century tower, unusual tympana, a dual sedilla and a piscina.

About this church

The existing nave and part of the chancel were probably erected around 1100AD and possibly built around an existing Saxon wooden church. The chancel was extended and the tower added in circa 1150.

On entering the porch, look above the door ahead of you at the carved semicircular stone carving or tympanum, which probably dates from the early 11th century. It is thought that the winged shield bearing a cross and a sword is almost certain to represent St Michael fighting the dragon below. There is a second tympanum above the west door, showing mythical beasts, which can be viewed from within the base of the tower behind the curtain. There is an interesting leaflet available about these tympana. Over the window in the south wall of the chancel and acting as a lintel is a grave slab, possibly from Roman times. The carved hammer beam chancel ceiling, replaced in 1880, is a fine example of craftsmanship, as is the oak reredos. The piscina, a perforated stone basin for carrying away the water used for rinsing the chalice, is recessed into the south wall of the chancel sanctuary. To its right are the sedilia, or stone seats for the priests. These two features are presumed to have been built when the chancel was extended in circa 1150.

In the south transept (Knock Porch) is a parish chest, probably dating from the late 13th century, and is made from 3” thick oak, almost certainly by local craftsmen in the village. It is a rare specimen, having two separately locked compartments, and it is speculated that the rector and churchwarden at the time were not on the best of terms and each demanded his own compartment! Also in the Knock Porch is an Elizabethan communion table.

In 2014 the tower was restored and reroofed and plans are afoot to restore the rest of the building to preserve it for future generations.
William Heelis, who married the children’s author Beatrix Potter in 1913, was the son of Revd John Heelis, who was at one time curate to his father (Revd Edward Heelis, rector of Long Marton church 1833-1874) and lived in a nearby cottage.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Social heritage stories
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

Other nearby churches

St Cuthbert

This attractive church surrounded by hay meadows and views of the Pennines, is a peaceful haven on a popular footpath and close to the Pennine Way and cycle routes.


St Michael

An important parish church, 14th century with many later changes clearly visible inside and out, in a fine setting between the River Eden and the North Pennines.

St Lawrence

St Lawrence's church is a grade I listed building, of late 12th century foundation, rebuilt late 13th after a raid by the Scots, restored 16th by Lady Anne Clifford, followed by two rounds of 19th century internal remodelling.

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