Another post from the blog archives. This was originally posted in 2016.
When I was looking up the meaning of ‘All Hallows’ for a post on the village blog I was surprised to read that historians were unable to place a date on the age of All Hallows Church. This is the problem with libraries, you start off on one topic and it’s quickly turned into two or three completely different ideas. So this post is now a brief history of All Hallows Church. Before I resume writing that post, can I just mention that ‘All Hallows Day’ is also known as ‘All Saints Day’ and derives from the Old English ‘hallowed’ meaning holy or sanctified.
So, what has been determined about the early All Hallows Church and was it even called ‘All Hallows’? There has been some speculation that a saxon church may have been built on the site but if there was, there is no trace of it now. Unfortunately, the church records cannot provide any historical help because they were sent to London in 1780 for a legal case, and never returned.
Not wishing to get hung up on dates, what has been suggested is that about the year 700, churches and monasteries were being established around Beverley and St John of Beverley visited the country districts around his diocese. And, as Walkington has a saxon name, it may have have been a recognisable place and may of had a Christian Community and therefore a church.
The first hard evidence of the church in Walkington comes in 1223 when it was recorded that Robert de Hemingborough was the Rector between 1223 – 1228; whether the church was called ‘All Hallows’ – I don’t know.
Standing outside the church looking at the exterior it’s doesn’t seem to be of much architectural significance, despite being a Grade II listed building; the walls have been patched up and re-built several times over the years, in different styles and using different materials. However, it does have a certain charm, a warm friendly, comforting look, and once inside the oak doors, it provides the visitor with a place of peace and tranquility.
Inside the church you are quickly made aware that the important thing is not the history of the building with it’s wood, and the stone and the glass; it’s about the people of the village and the contribution they have all made to the story of All Hallows Church and the mark they have left on the fabric of the building.
The layout of the church follows the traditional build; facing east to west with a tower at the western end; a North and the South Transept crossing the central aisle just before the Chancel.
The tower at the western end of the church houses the church bells. We’ve all heard the Walkington Bell Ringers on a Sunday morning and a Monday evening ringing out the bells across the village. As early as 1552 the tower housed three bells; now the tower hosts six bells which were dedicated in 1959 during the time of Revd. N.A.H.Lawrance, following an appeal which raised the princely sum of £1880. It’s appropriate, that two of the bells, bear the inscription “ Given by the people of Walkington. AD 1958”
The stone square area around the font is late 18th century, however the wooden font cover was the work of a skilled local craftsmanship, a joiner called Mr. Rotsey Lawson (1869-1949). In 1818, £700 was raised by a levy on the local rates to re-roof the nave and to complete other extensive re-building work and builders being builders, they carved their initials on the wall next to the tower door.
Walkington lost many young men in the Great War and their names are recorded on the memorial plaque by the main door. The church clock was a donation in 1919 by the Plimpton family in memory of Capt.Robert A. Plimpton who was killed in Flanders.
On both sides of the Nave we have wooden pews that were donated by Major J.D.Fergusson Fawsitt (brother of the rector) in 1886 at a cost of £200. The rear pews at the south side were occupied at the turn of the century by the local Drum and Fife band, who provided the music for the church services, these pews were fitted with and extra upper ledge to hold the sheet music. If you look carefully you can see that part of the upper ledge of the rear pew has been cut away to accommodate the bass drum. You can imagine the musical challenges, posed by a likely very enthusiastic ensemble of local farmers and boys with differing musical abilities keeping time to the bass drum. Church music would be loud in those days… Farm Boys 2 v Choir Boys 0.
Further down the Nave, near the South Transept, stands a brass eagle lectern that was donated to the church by Major Ferguson-Fawsitt in 1888 at a cost of £105. Across from the lectern stands the pulpit which is made of oak and dates from early 17th Century.
The North Transept of the church has some interesting stonework built into the wall. It is part of a 12th Century grave cover that has been built into the bottom of the west arch. Above is the colourful widow is a memorial to Margaretta and Robert Dunning. Many years ago the transept was known as the Dunning Chapel.
The larger South Transept displays a beautiful example of a 14th Century curvilinear window. During repairs to the fabric in 1934, Sidney E.Lythe, a local building contractor, found that the east wall of the transept contained a window that had been filled in. Removing the plaster revealed a medieval window, the window was restored to its original state but new glass was put in to commemorate Mr. Harold Lythe’s 64 years of service as church organist (1903 – 1967).
The oak choir stalls in the Chancel were made locally by Mr.Walter Lawson (son of Rotsey) and dedicated in 1953 to the memory of Rev. H.D.Greaves (Rector (1926-1947). Harry Greaves was a talented organist and responsible for the installation of the present organ in about 1930. He was also the driving force behind the building of the choir vestry in the 1930’s.
The Chancel is dominated by the east window, made by Henry Harvey of York in 1970 to replace the cracked and decaying Victorian window. The window depicts “Our Lord In Majesty with a company of saints”. The tracery (the stonework elements that support the glass) shows the Archangel Michael and two Greek letters Alpha and Omega; the lower corners of the window depict the Annunciation and the Nativity.
On the right of the alter is the “Lawson” window dedicated in 1938 to the memory of Helen, daughter of Rotsey Lawson.
I hope you have found this post interesting and that you will maybe take a closer look at the features mentioned the next time you visit All Hallows Church.
Editors Note: I am much indebted to the authors of two small booklets:
Rev’d David Kirby for his guidebook to All Hallows Church, and;
Prof, S.G.E.Lythe ‘The Rectors of Walkington’
Both booklets are held in the Beverley Treasure House.