A look at the history of Markenfield Hall, Ripon, with Dr Emma Wells

in Ripon

Almost directly opposite the former Lady Chapel hidden within Ripon Cathedral (now the north transept) are a series of tombs marred by time and reformation. One of two former chantry chapels of the Markenfield family, one was founded in 1345 by Andrew de Merkyngfeld (d.1365) and dedicated to his namesake saint. Among the surviving limestone memorials is also a table tomb to Sir Thomas Markenfield I, featuring an alabaster effigy of Sir Thomas, and wife Dionisia, who died in 1398. He is wearing a unique livery collar, or cloak strap, that reflects his service to Richard II (some say Henry Bolingbroke), depicting a stag at rest within park palings. Some proffer this is an artistic pun or rebus on his surname ‘Mark in Field’—a mark being the quarry in a hunt. Another Thomas Markenfield lays close by alongside his wife Eleanor Conyers, daughter of Sir John Conyers of nearby Hornby Castle. Both monuments represent the Markenfield’s elite knightly status.

The home of this household, Markenfield Hall, lies three miles from Ripon Cathedral and is considered among the best-preserved of the nation’s medieval moated manors. Constructed first in the early 13th century, it was turned into the palatial hall we see today about a century later by Canon John de Markenfield (a former clerk to Edward I) after Edward II granted him a licence to crenellate in 1310–likely a perk for being appointed that same year to Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Inside Markenfield Hall are several architectural gems, and perhaps the most notable of all is the surviving family chapel, accessed just off the great hall. Dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel and completed in 1310, services were held by a resident priest who also led masses at the chantry over at the cathedral. The chapel features an unusual carved ogee double piscina (the arrangement allowed the water of the eucharistic vessels to be kept separate from the water in which the priest washed his hands before conducting the Mass) decorated with the family’s coat of arms and even a squint or hagioscope pierced into the wall to allow Canon Markenfield to view the liturgy while remaining seated before the fireplace in his private chambers.

Check opening times before visiting Markenfield Hall, also open by appointment.

Books by Dr Emma Wells

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1 thought on “A look at the history of Markenfield Hall, Ripon, with Dr Emma Wells”

  1. Thank you for that – a really interesting piece. I had never heard of Markenfield Hall but I shall make a point of visiting in the summer. It looks beautiful.


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