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Listed Building
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Ordnance survey map of CHURCH OF ST MAGNUS
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TA 15900 65948



II* 1893-4 by Temple Moore.

MATERIALS: Faced with Whitby ashlar stone. Internally lower parts faced with red Dumfries sandstone, upper ones with Ancaster stone. Red clay tile roofs

PLAN: Nave, chancel, N and S aisles, central steeple, NE vestry.

EXTERIOR: The style of the church is 14th-century. Dominant elements are the sturdy central tower and the continuous roofs over the nave and aisles. At the W end there is a four-light W window with Decorated tracery. Substantial gabled buttresses divide the nave from the W ends of the aisles which have small cusped lancet windows. At the E end the chancel has a five-light E window with flowing tracery and a foundation stone at the NE corner records the date of 1893. There are two-light Decorated windows in the S and N wall of the chancel. The aisles are reinforced by large central buttresses and have small two-light cusped windows in square-headed frames. The low, massive central tower has a projecting SE stair-turret that is flush with the E wall of the S aisle. The tower has cusped lancets and cusped Y-tracery belfry openings. The spire sits behind embattled parapets and has one tier of small spire-lights.

INTERIOR: Pink stone is used below the springing of the arches with cream-coloured above. The crossing has N and S chamfered arches and more elaborate moulded arches to the chancel and nave. The two-bay arcades have piers with a complex section: two foils with fillets and two ogees, and quirky detail to the ring moulding of the shafts. All the roofs are painted blue, the nave, chancel and crossing roofs being peppered with stars. The boarded wagon roof to the chancel is divided into panels by moulded ribs with a brattished wallplate. Nave roof is steeply canted. Over the crossing is a flat panelled roof while the aisle roofs are divided into panels. The N and S walls of the chancel are divided into bays by arcading, the western arch on the N side opening into the vestry, the centre arch containing a small organ. The E wall is plain.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: There is an elegant integrated design of choir stalls and a low timber chancel screen, panelled with restrained blind and pierced tracery. The chancel screen returns as two reading desks facing each other and the choir stalls have tall, panelled backs with a coved cornice. The timber altar rails are equally low-key. There is a slender timber drum pulpit on a stone base, the sides of the drum being decorated with blind tracery. The nave benches have ends with concave shoulders and a simple hollow-chamfered moulding. The oldest item in the church is the 12th-century tub font on a 19th-century ashlar base. The tub has blind arcaded sides carved with zig-zag and lozenges. One panel is carved with stylised flowers and another with two animals joined at the soles of their feet. Round the font the floor is paved with old inscribed monumental slabs. The E window is a fine work in stained glass by Victor Milner, Temple Moore's preferred stained glass artist. The other chancel windows are also of excellent quality and are presumably also by Milner who also may have designed the W window. In the S aisle are two small but good windows by C E Kempe. There are several early 19th-century wall monuments resited from the old church including one to Lady Ann Hudson d 1818, signed by R J Wyatt of London, including a good group carved in relief.

HISTORY: The church of St Magnus was built under the will of George Wright of Bessingby Hall and replaced a small brick church of 1767 which stood nearby. The architect, Temple Lushington Moore (1856-1920), was one of the greatest church designers of the late Gothic Revival. Born in Ireland and educated in Glasgow and Yorkshire, he maintained a close affinity with the latter county and many of his commissions are there. He was articled to G G Scott junior from 1875-8 and began independent practice in the 1880s. His greatest achievements were between the mid-1890s and the start of the First World War and are characterised by what one contemporary critic called `good proportion and sweetness of line'. The elaborate ornament and polychromy of 1860s and `70s architecture have no place in his work which forms a key bridge between Victorian and C20 church architecture. A devout Anglo-Catholic himself much of his work was for High Church clients.

Moore appears to have made three designs for the church. The design selected involved a substantial central tower witn a recessed spire. Usually architects at the end of the 19th century contrived to ensure that crossing towers were not very obvious or obtrusive inside. Unusually this is not the case at this church, so the building assumes a three-cell appearance on its main axis and there is a strong sense of separation between the nave and chancel. Moore does succeed in illuminating the tower space very effectively by windows in the side walls. The church cost £2,896 plus £252 for fittings.

SOURCES: Brandwood, G., Temple Moore: an Architect of the Late Gothic Revival (1997), 110, 221. Neave, D, and Pevsner, N., The Buildings of England: Yorkshire: York and the East Riding (1997), 276-7.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The church of St Magnus, Bessingby, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * It is of very considerable interest as a beautifully proportioned late Gothic Revival church by one of the greatest of all Victorian and Edwardian church architects who was beginning to establish a fine reputation when St Magnus was built. It combines a strength of line with fine detail. * It contains a notable collection of woodwork by the architect of the church, at once restrained and yet full of beautiful detail.


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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 19 Feb 2006
Reference: IOE01/15197/17
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Les Waby. Source Historic England Archive
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