This page gives you a brief history of Kellington Church.


A History of Kellington Church


Kellington 30 November 2010

 The first record we have of Chelinctone (Kellington) is in the Domesday Survey (1085-1087) but no mention is made of a church.

             The first intimation we have of a church is 1185 when John de Kellington was appointed rector by the Knights Templars, who had a preceptory at Temple Hirst. The de Kellingtons held the living for three generations until 1339 when a vicarage was established and Robert de Melburn was appointed vicar.

             Kellington Church is dedicated to St Edmund, King & Martyr, King of East Anglia; he was martyred by Danish invaders in 870. Why the church is so named we do not know, unless John de Kellington may have had as a predecessor a member of the Hastings family who held land in East Anglia.

St. Edmunds

             The living was in the hands of the Templars until they were disbanded in 1312 and their Kellington property passed to the Knights Hospitallers of St John. This it remained until the Reformation of Henry VIII gave the advowson to the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge, but it is now in the hands of the Diocesan Board of Patronage.

The Croysdale Monument

             The parish of Kellington included Beal, Roall, Eggborough and Whitley, but in 1873 Beal became part of Birkin parish. One theory for the isolated site of the church was that it was built in the centre of the parish of all five villages, another reason was to preserve it from flooding which was quite prevalent in earlier times. The building is 26 feet above the lowest part of the village and a quarter of a mile from the vicarage by a footpath which crosses two fields. There are several footpaths from the other villages and they are shown quite clearly on the 1848 survey map.

A view from Whales Lane.

             Until 1926, Kellington parish was in the diocese of York, but was then transferred to Wakefield and is in the deanery of Pontefract.

             The Church is built of limestone which makes it look so beautiful when the sun shines on it, or when it is floodlit for special services.

             Inside it is pleasantly light because of the light coloured walls and absence of stained glass in the windows.

     There is no evidence that there were ever houses near it.

             The main shell of the Church is Norman, but little Norman work remains. The lower part of the western end of the south nave is traditionally Norman and adjoining is the internal arch of the Norman window. An eighteenth century drawing shows a small Norman chancel arch.

             Changes were made int the twelfth century, the tower seems to have been built together with the re-construction of the nave and chancel. On the east wall of the tower the weather course of the previous nave roof is clearly defined. The angle buttresses of the tower date from 1400 and the two heavy buttresses were added to the north west in the late fifteenth century. The tower continues to cause anxiety despite costly work of grouting in 1959.

             The pinnacles at the four corners of the tower were removed in the 1940's when one was unsafe and it was considered that the tower looked better without them as they were not part of the original design.

             The re-constructed nave was lighted by lancet windows of which two remain. The north aisle and arcade seem to have been erected towards the end of the twelfth century. The aisle seems to have been roofed continuously with the nave, as was usual in the work of that period. All traces were obliterated when the present north aisle was created 1866-70.

             The site of the previous Norman chancel arch suggests an apsidal termination.

             The priest's doorway is complete externally, but was quite obliterated internally by the Victorian restoration. An old drawing shows a square headed Tudor east window.

             There is a well designed late fourteenth century window of three lights in the south wall.

             Further restoration was carried out in 1504, the belfry stage was added to the tower and the west window pierced through and a clerestory added towards the end of the fifteenth century.

             The Victorian restoration cost £3,000 and was paid for by Miss Mary Ann Eadon whose memorial tablet is on the wall near the high altar.

             A fourteenth century coffin slab of a knight rests in an upright position in the north west corner of the north aisle.

             The font dates from 1663 and near the font lies the Kellington Serpent Stone which is now presumed to be the coffin lid of a knight; but according to ancient village lore it is that of a shepherd who, with his dog, slew a "noisome snake" and as a result both died of poison. The shepherd's name was Armroyd and the battle was fought in Armroyd Close.

Kellington Serpent Stone.

             The stone was originally in a niche in the north wall of the Chantry Chapel but was removed by the King's authority and placed in the south east corner of the old churchyard, probably about 1548. Through exposure to weather, the carving deteriorated and it was brought back into the church in 1869.

        Lead from the nave roof was removed by thieves in the 1950's.      

       In 1968, the roof of the chancel was rebuilt as it was infested with woodworm and dry rot. The roof was re-covered with light modern materials. To replace the type of material previously used would have been too costly.

       History was again made in 1987 when a woman, the Rev. Deacon Barbara Lydon, was licensed to be in charge of the parish.

      In advance of new seam of coal to be mined from Kellingley Colliery underneath the church, British Coal funded the stabilisation of the structure. This mining would have made the already cracked and leaning tower unsafe. Between Oct 1990 and Jan 1991 a team of archaeologists from the University of York excavated the interior of the church and a two-metre strip around the outside. The mining started in April 1991.

          Working  with English Heritage engineers the tower, which was very unstable, was dismantled stone by stone, numbered, then carefully reassembled in the same order to retain its original style.

The church with the tower removed (from an old newspaper cutting).

         In the Autumn of 2004  thieves have stolen the copingstones from the church wall and left the wall in need of repair before the rain and weather deteriorates it.

             The porch was added in the fifteenth century. Close to the porch is a good cross base dated from the end of the thirteenth century. About three feet of the stem of the cross remains.

             The gate posts are dated 1698 and recently a preservation order was placed on them.

            The altar table in the Lady Chapel is inscribed with the names of the churchwardens of the day:

Thos. Chanter Rich. Dickon } John Ward Wm.Rawdon }

            The table opposite the south door, now holding church notices etc., is also an old altar table. Just inside the door is an ancient churchwardens' chest and some fifteenth century bench ends are near the high altar.

            There was an early seventeenth century chest in the choir vestry but it was stolen during a break-in by thieves in 1987. During a previous break-in the Bishops' chair, a beautiful black oak carved piece, was taken.

Church Plate

            Church plate belonging to the parish consists of a chalice with a square looking bowl with the inscription "Wm. Wood, Vicar, W Shere-son, W Chapman, W Wilson, Ed. Padgett, Church-W. 1677". This cup is still in use at the Eucharist.

            The paten is plain and inscribed "The Gift of Mrs Jane and Mary Anby to the Parish of Kellington, 1748".

            There are two silver flagons 101/2" in height and 6" in diameter, tapering to 41/2" at the top. They are engraved with arms on a lozenge, three demi-lions rampant; these also were the gift of the Aubys. The family lived at Sherwood Hall, Mrs Anby is buried in the Chancel.

            The two silver flagons are now on loan, for safekeeping, to York Minster and are on exhibition with other church treasures.

The Bells

            Kellington church has 3 bells. One belongs to pre-Re formation times and has the inscription "Iste Campana Sonet Johannes". This was probably cast by John de Cotsale c. 1410

         The inscription on the other two are "God Save the Queen and Her Realms Amen 1600 J.A., W.H., J.S., H.D." and "Soli des Gloria Pax Homini-bus 1638".

            On the bell frame itself, towards the south is carved "Nicholas-, Emley Dunn, Wm. Rawdon, Francis Manverley, Gardianes, ecclesiae".


H M S Kellington

            In the south west corner is the flag of the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Kellington which was adopted by the village during the Second World War. The flag was presented to the parish when the ship went out of service.


HMS Kellington


The Alter Cross



 The Alter Cross in Kellington Church bears the inscription " In memory of Thomas and Elizabeth Croysdale and their son Walter Alexander by members of the family. Xmas 1907"


            The registers are kept in the Wakefield Record Office and date from c. 1639.

            It is believed that while Sir Walter Scott was writing his novel Ivanhoe he was staying with a friend who owned Sherwood Hall and the church bells heard during the trial of the Jewess Rebecca, the belles of Templestowe, were the bells of Kellington Church.

               A list of incumbents can be seen on the west wall of the Church.


  1185        John de Kellington

  1202        Thomas his son

  1239        Alexander, son of Thomas



  1239        Robert de Malebuyn (Melbun)

  1293        John de Chauncey

  1293        Ric de Burghbrigge (appointed by the Hospitlers of St. John)

  1249        Joh Elys de Berwyke (Barwick)

  1362        Rich de Alnworthrop

  1362        Will de Hill

  1435        Thos Grynder

  1455        Will Grene

  1477        Robt Ellerton

  1504        Oliver Wodrufe

  1520        Tho Newport

  1528        Richard More (appointed  by Trinity Collage Cambridge)

                  Will Oglethorpe

  1597        Henr Smyth M A

  1606        Brian Harrison

  1608        Theoph Buckworth STB, DD, Fellow of Trinity, afterwards Bishop of Dronmore

  1609        Sam Utley M A

  1633        Gwil Hill  M A

  1662        Gwil Wood

  1705        William Oates

  1717        Daniel Hopkins B A

  1735        George Almond B A

  1764        John Bakewell M A

  1770        Francis Paddey M A  

  1810        George Frederick Tavel

  1818        John Lowthian M A, Fellow of Trinity

  1840        Joseph Mann M A, Fellow of Trinity

  1892        Edward Bickersteth Birks M A,  Fellow of Trinity

  1914        Egbert Claud Hudson, afterwards Cannon of York

  1923        John Harold McCubbins M A

  1933        Philip St John Wilson Ross M A

  1936        Thomas Woods M A

  1943        John Cowl A L C D

  1953        William Littlewood




        The old  Vicarage was bought from the Church Authorities in l979 by its present owner, Mrs Christine Abraham.