Sheriff Hutton is a small village to the north of York with connections to the 15th century and the War of the Roses. (If you are keen to learn more about the history of the village, I wrote about it here.)
History of The Church of St. Helen and Holy Cross
St Helen’s has a history dating back to the 12th century, with the church itself dating to the 11oo’s.
This date coincides with the building of a Norman motte and bailey castle by the Bulmer Family. The remaining earthworks of this castle are next to the churchyard.
Originally an aisleless building with a western tower, the church was enlarged in the 13th century where in which the present west door was added, and a north chapel was added to the chancel.
During the 14th and 15th century, the church was continually expanded, with the powerful Neville family who owned the nearby castle using it as a family church and burial place.
The church remains relatively unchanged from the one the Neville family knew, with just the addition of the west porch in the 18th/19th century.
Points of Interest
The North aisle contains two effigies that are time worn but still tell a story through the centuries.
Sir Edmund Thweng
In St. Nicholas chapel is the effigy of Sir Edmund Thweng, and dates to 1344.
He came from a large family, with 8 brothers and sisters, and we know that he fought in the Scottish War of Independence. His eldest son, Marmaduke was named for his father and born when Edmund was only 15.
He was of Cornborough Manor, and there is still a Cornborough Manor nearby, and is a family farm.
You can clearly make out that the effigy is of a Knight and the angel by his side.
Edward of Middleham
Edward of Middleham was the only son of Richard III and Anne Neville, and was Richard’s heir. He was born between 1473 and 1476, invested as Prince of Wales but sadly died in 1484.
There is an effigy of an child in the north aisle that was long thought to be that of Edward. It is much time worn now, but in the 17th century the Neville family arms were still visible.
In addition, the Sun in Splendour, a symbol used by the House of York is in the 15th century window above. However there is debate about the identification of this effigy, and I plan to write about it in my next blog entry.
It’s a beautiful church with many original aspects remaining from when the great Neville family owned the nearby castle.
It is also a must to visit for those who are interested in Richard III and the 15th century. The church is proud of its connection to Richard III and even if the effigy is not that of his son Edward, it was a feature in his life. He visited the church in 1485 to pay an outstanding stipend to the chantry priest William Sympson.
For all the photos from my trip to Sheriff Hutton, please visit my flickr