A History of All Saints Church
The first thing that strikes a visitor to All Saints Church of Moor Monkton is its isolated position. It lies on the edge of the central of the 3 great common fields of the village, about half a kilometre to the south of the village, next to the lane that leads from the old Roman road to the village itself. Although this is not unusual for an ancient church, it does suggest that circumstances have changed since it was built in the 11th century. It is difficult to be sure of the situation then, perhaps the location of the village subsequently moved although this seems unlikely due to the advantages of the present village being next to the river Nidd and on higher ground. More likely it was built here to serve the 3 villages of Moor Monkton, Scagglethorpe (now gone) and Hessay. If this were the case then it would be in a good central position for these settlements, favouring the largest of Scagglethorpe and Moor Monkton equally.
A possible first reference to the building occurs in 1089 when Ralph Paynel gave it to the Priory of the Holy Trinity in York. The only visible evidence of these early beginnings are two round topped windows, one to the right of the porch and one in the north wall of the chancel.
In about 1200 the church was partly rebuilt and a fine south doorway was added, now sheltered by the later porch. Evidence of this alteration can be seen on the internal walls around the door where the smooth dressing of the 12th century stone contrasts the rougher finish from the earlier wall. The decoration of the arch in this doorway is interesting - there is a waterleaf capital at the head of the left colonette while, to the right, there is only a plain capital. Also the hoodmould above the arch incorporates two grotesque animal head stops, the left one is a replacement but the right one is original.
The Priest's door in the south wall of the chancel probably dates from this time although it may be an improvement on an earlier one.
The pointed windows (lancets) were probably put into the walls at this time although they have been subsequently restored. The external walls of the chancel were probably resurfaced during the 13th century as their finish is much smoother than the internal face.
The niche in the south wall of the chancel probably housed a piscina in which vessels used in the services were washed.
Sir Henry Slingsby is responsible for the much of the structure of the church that we see now. In 1638/40 he paid for a brick tower to be built to house the bell which he had recast from the two originals. The tower replaced the old bellcote (a wooden frame mounted on the roof to house the bell). This original tower was built of brick and evidence of this can be seen inside the tower above arch from the nave where some of the 2 inch bricks are visible behind the whitewash.
Other relics of Sir Henry's generosity can be seen in the communion table and the rounded balusters of the communion rail.
Despite the Slingsby's attachment to Moor Monkton most chose to be buried at St John's Church, Knaresborough, close to their other family seat at Scriven.
In 1878 the parish council commissioned an architect called James Fowler to carry restoration work on the building. This work included dismantling Slingsby's brick tower and rebuilding it in the present stone facing with new and old brick interior. The east end was rebuilt and given a new east window with strong mouldings in the Norman style. Evidence of this can be seen in the differences in the stonework above and below the window.
The north wall of the nave was rebuilt and a medieval gravestone incorporated into it. It is likely that the Norman lancet windows were restored at this time.
The porch was built over the south door and includes two reset medieval stones, one of each side of the arch. The one on the right is said to commemorate a priest and his head and feet are visible. The threshold of the porch is made from two slabs of stone one of which may have been the gravestone of Rev. Cuthbert Hesketh who died in 1665.
A new rood was installed which is carried on trusses of embattle beams and brace collar beams. It is said that it replaced a painted ceiling of a celestial canopy.
Colourful tiles were laid in the Chancel and a new floor made in the Church. This involved the removal of monuments in the Nave floor to the Nottingham farming dynasty of Hessay, some of whose gravestones stand in the graveyard.
New fittings were provided, including the Pulpit and Lectern, together with new Stalls with acorn knobs, or finials, and end panels in the style of the C17th. The Organ stood on the right side of the Chancel, behind the south wall of the Arch.
The Font with its deep bowl on a moulded pedestal probably dates from the 13th century. It seems to have been re-carved at the time of the 19th century restoration as can be seen from the deeply carved fluting in the stone. The cover, with its scrolled wrought ironwork like that on the South Door, is 19th century.
Other interesting items in the Church are the two boards, one on each side of the Chancel Arch. These are Creed and Commandment Boards, the one on the left setting out the Apostles’ Creed and Commandments I – IV. Commandments V – X continue in the left panel of the other board, which has the Lord’s Prayer in the right panel. The boards are very faded but look as if they date from the 19th century.
In the tower is a Benefaction Board listing charitable bequests form deceased parishioners. The board is shown in the little sketch of the church which hangs on the north wall of the Nave. The sketch was made before the 1878-79 restoration, by the Vicar’s daughter, Miss S E Carr, and shows the Benefaction Board attached to the south wall of the Nave, in the position of the later added memorial window to the Rev. Charles Slingsby.
Rev. Charles Slingsby died on 15 November 1912, in a hunting accident with the Ainsty Hunt. The window depicts Saint Hubert transfixed by his Vision of the Crucifixion impaled on the horns of a stag; and Saint Francis of Assisi with his birds and a peacock, the symbol of the Resurrection. The window is by the London firm of Heaton, Butler and Bayme, and the Rev. Charles’ gravestone is towards the edge of the graveyard at the east end of the Church.
Based on work done by Dr Peter Newman