St Thomas a Becket's Church


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of St Thomas a Becket's Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Stockton-on-Tees (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NZ 39775 25431

Reasons for Designation

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little fabric of the first church being still easily visible. Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of 1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are identified to be nationally important.

Despite some structural instability, St Thomas a Becket's Church survives reasonably well. Important parts of the original medieval church remain intact and it retains architectural features considered to be of high architectural merit. Taken together with the remains of its graveyard, it will contribute to our knowledge and understanding of medieval life and society.


The monument includes the remains of a church and associated graveyard, situated within the small settlement at Grindon. The church at Grindon was originally built during the 12th century and substantially rebuilt by Bishop Pudsey in 1190. It was dedicated to St Thomas a Becket who was canonized in 1172. The visible remains include parts of the nave, chancel and south chapel. The nave is rectangular and 15m east to west by 6.5m north to south within walls of limestone blocks on average 1m thick. The north and south walls stand to a maximum height of 5m and the west gable stands to its full height of 7.2m. The main doorway into the church is visible in the western end of the south wall of the nave. The doorway is a particularly fine example, with a semi-circular arch supported on columns. A second doorway of square-headed form in the north wall of the nave has been blocked. There are two original lancet windows in the south wall and a single lancet window in the north wall of the nave. There is a later window at the eastern end of the south wall. A large window, the remains of which include part of the sill and one jamb, are visible at the eastern end of the north wall. There is a single lancet window, centrally placed in the western gable, and the remains of a bellcote. The remains of the chancel survive to the east end of the nave and are considered to be slightly earlier in date. The chancel is visible as the lower courses of walls of rubble masonry, except the north wall which stands to 2.2m high and retains the sill of a window. The church was altered during the 14th century when a chapel, known as the Fulthorpe porch, was added to the south side of the chancel. The chapel, rectangular in shape, measures 5m by 3.4m within walls which stand up to 2.2m high. It has the remains of windows in the west and south walls, and parts of a piscina with a broken bowl lie adjacent to the eastern side of the south window. During the late 18th century the church was extensively repaired. At this time, the small porch around the south doorway was constructed; this is visible as rubble walls standing to a maximum height of 1.1m. The lead roof was replaced with slate, parts of the chancel were refaced in brick and the interior of the nave was panelled with wood; the holes facilitating the wooden panelling are clearly visible. In addition to these alterations, a brick fireplace was inserted in the south wall of the nave in order to heat the `Wynyard Pew'. The church, which is Listed Grade I, remained in use until 1848 when it was abandoned and superseded by the opening of the church of the Holy Trinity at Thorpe Thewles. Surrounding the church on all sides there are the remains of an associated graveyard 70m east to west by 55m north to south within a broad bank up to 1.5m high and spread to 5m. The graveyard remained in use until the church was abandoned. Vegetation cover has obscured the graves and their headstones with the exception of a large slab immediately outside the west end of the church. Until at least 1928 a stone coffin and a medieval grave slab, the latter engraved with the name `Roger de Fulthorpe,' were visible in the churchyard to the south east of the church. It is thought that the latter had originally been placed in the `Fulthorpe Chapel'. All fences which cross the monument and the wooden stile are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

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This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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