Remains of St Michael's Church, 50m north west of Dairy Bridge, Rokeby Park


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016875

Date first listed: 24-Sep-1999


Ordnance survey map of Remains of St Michael's Church, 50m north west of Dairy Bridge, Rokeby Park
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Rokeby

National Grid Reference: NZ 08416 14405


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

A medieval chapel is a building, usually rectangular, containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate for Christian worship in the pre- Reformation period. Chapels were designed for congregational worship and were generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provided accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which was the main domain of the priest and contained the principal altar. Around 4000 parochial chapels were built between the 12th and 17th centuries as subsidiary places of worship built for the convenience of parishioners who lived at a distance from the main parish church. Other chapels were built as private places of worship by manorial lords and lie near or within manor houses, castles or other high-status residences. Chantry chapels were built and maintained by endowment and were established for the singing of masses for the soul of the founder. Some chapels possessed burial grounds. Unlike parish churches, the majority of which remain in ecclesiastical use, chapels were often abandoned as their communities and supporting finances declined or disappeared. Many chantry chapels disappeared after the dissolution of their supporting communities in the 1540s. Chapels, like parish churches, have always been major features of the landscape. A significant number of surviving examples are identified as being nationally important. The sites of abandoned chapels, where positively identified, are particularly worthy of statutory protection as they were often left largely undisturbed and thus retain important information about the nature and date of their use up to their abandonment.

St Michael's Church is a well documented example of a medieval church, with a number of medieval grave slabs in their original settings within its associated graveyard. The church has an association with Rokeby Hall which can be traced back to the 13th century, and burials indicate its existence in the 12th century. The extent of the churchyard is well preserved and deposits within the churchyard are undisturbed and will be well preserved beneath the present ground surface.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of St Michael's Church, which is situated 50m north west of Dairy Bridge and within the north east corner of the grounds of Rokeby Park. The monument includes the church, a socket stone for a cross and an associated graveyard. The church survives as an earthwork up to 0.5m high. It is unusual in form, the nave being approximately 6m square in plan. There is an attached cell which measures 2m by 3m to the south, believed to be a porch, and one to the east believed to be the chancel, which measures 3m by 5m. The graveyard contains a number of marked graves and the socket stone of a churchyard cross which are Listed Grade II. The gravestones include a number of undated standing examples, a group of 17th and 18th century gravestones now recumbent, a small tomb slab and a 12th century coped tomb slab. The small tomb slab is 0.7m long and tapers in width from 0.3m to 0.2m. In section it is a halved octagon and its top panel is decorated with a cross on steps. The 12th century coped tomb slab is 1.65m in length and tapers in width from 0.4m to 0.35m. A cross is depicted on one side panel and on the other is the shears symbol which is interpreted as indicating a female burial. The socket stone measures 0.6m square at its base and is 0.45m high. At 0.07m above the base is a concave moulding and at above 0.18m a broad, slightly concave chamfer reduces the dimensions of the socket stone to 0.4m square at its top. The socket is 0.2m by 0.25m. The extent of the graveyard is delineated by a later park wall on the east and north sides, and on the west by a stone wall garden boundary which is continued as a low bank 24m south beyond the end of the garden wall. The bank then turns east towards Dairy Bridge. Nearby Rokeby Hall was mentioned in the Domesday Book and the site of the present mansion overlies the site of the medieval hall. The earliest mention of the church occurs in 1204 when the advowson of Rokeby Church was given to Brian Fitz Alan of Bedale by the Lord of Rokeby Manor, Robert de Rokeby. Brian Fitz Alan's descendants held the advowson (right of presentation to benefice) until 1340, when the king's licence was obtained for the church to be granted to Egglestone Abbey. By this time the value of the church had fallen from ten pounds at the inquisition of 1282 to 66 shillings and eightpence due to the effects of Scottish raids. In 1342 the church was appropriated by Egglestone Abbey and ordained. In 1539-40 Egglestone Abbey was dissolved and the church was returned to the possession of the incumbent of Rokeby Manor. The lead roof of the church was removed in 1674 and replaced with slate. When Sir Thomas Robinson built a new church dedicated to St Mary the Virgin to the west of Rokeby Park in 1740, the old church became disused, and in 1769 the church and its churchyard was sold to John Sawrey Morritt in exchange for five acres opposite the new church. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling: these are the septic tank and adjacent soakaway for Teesview Cottage, fence line, garden stone wall and poles for services; however, the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 32058

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Oliver, W, St Mary's Church, Rokeby, (1943)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the Counties of England - Yorkshire, North Riding, (1914), 116
Ryder, P, (1998)

End of official listing