St Mary the Virgin

Raised on a hillside above the River Swale, the history of Christian church building can be traced through the fabric of St Mary's from the 12th to the 21st centuries.

About this church

There has been a church in Richmond since at least the 12th century, but the earliest written record of a church comes from a charter written around 1125 referring to links between the Benedictine abbey of St Mary in York and Holy Trinity Chapel in the market place, then serving as a chapel for Richmond Castle. The first documented evidence of a church on this site is from 1137 and 12th-century features can still be found at the west end of the church today. Look for a Norman pillar and 12th century arcading at the west end of the nave.

The entire church was rebuilt in the late 15th century, however, the building as we see it today owes much to a comprehensive restoration by the famous Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott from 1858-1859. The Easby choir seats boast 16 misericords carved with diverse figures such as foliage, animals and human heads. The most famous misericord depicts a pig playing the bagpipes. There is a similar misericord carving in Ripon Cathedral and at Beverley Minster. Around the canopy above the stalls is a Latin inscription that translates as: 'There are ten kinds of mischief in the cloister - extravagant living; exquisite food; gossip in church; quarrelling amongst the clergy; disorderliness in the choir; idle students; disobedience in the young; complacency in the old; obstinacy amongst the religious and worldliness amongst ministers'.

The 17th century Hutton memorial is most important historical monument in the chancel. The Timothy and Elizabeth Hutton are shown kneeling at prayer with 12 children below them. Each of the children has its own coat of arms and inscription.

Highlights include; Near the north door is a poor box dating to the reign of Edward VI (1547-1553). In the south aisle is a plaque commemorating John Laird Mair, 1st Lord Lawrence of the Punjab. Mair was born in Richmond in 1811. Another highlight is the Green Howards Chapel with its poignant carved wooden reredos dedicated to the soldiers who fought in WWII. All the chapel furnishings are by the Thompson of Kilburn studio - look out for carved mice! In the south wall are a 13th century sedilia and piscina as well as an aumbry of the same date. On the wall are fragments of a 15th century mural. The east window dates to about 1450, though the glass is Victorian. 'Ruth's Window' in the south aisle is a 21st century reminder of the fragility of life and bears the motto, 'Hold onto that which is good'.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Steps to enter the church or churchyard
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets in church
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Wifi

Other nearby churches

YorkshireEASBYStAgatha(explorechurches.org)1

St Agatha

St Agatha's is a beautiful church dating from the 6th century.

St Michael & All Angels

Regarded as one of England's 1000 best churches, St Michael & All Angels is easily overlooked but visitors would do well to stop and enjoy the remarkable peace of this thin place in the heart of Swaledale.

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