Inspiration

Days Out, Churches, Chapels - Yorkshire Historical Heritage

Churches in Yorkshire

From tiny chapels and Medieval market town churches, to magnificent Minsters - Yorkshire has it all.

Whether you are interested in regional history and heritage or simply seeking a place of peace and tranquility, the region's churches will not disappoint. These impressive and inspirational buildings offer a warm welcome to visitors and an insight into the area's rich and diverse cultural heritage.

Just as important to the communities they serve are the many parish churches, chapels and places of worship that are scattered across the region. Leave the main roads and take the time to explore some of Yorkshire's best kept secrets.

Churches Conservation Trust

The Churches Conservation Trust is the national charity protecting historic churches at risk. Ranging from the virtually untouched medieval in idyllic rural settings, to ornately impressive Victorian in busy town centres.

Below is a selection of churches in Yorkshire for you to enjoy:

Holy Trinity Goodramgate has the air of a hidden treasure. It stands in a small, secluded, leafy churchyard, with the Minster towering behind, tucked away behind Goodramgate - one of York's busiest shopping streets. To visit, you pass through an 18th-century archway tacked on to buildings that served as artisans' workshops in the 14th century.

With its colourful and vibrant interior, this Victorian church seems the very celebration of life, yet it stands as a testament to tragedy. It is a memorial to Frederick Vyner who, age 23, was captured and murdered by brigands in Greece in 1870.

Nestling in the grounds of Harewood House, All Saints' dates from the 15th century. It is remarkable for six pairs of effigies, dating from 1419 to 1510, commemorating the owners of Harewood and the nearby Gawthorpe estate. They are some of the greatest surviving examples of alabaster carving - virtually without rival in England - and offer a fascinating glimpse into the amour, robes, jewellery and headdresses of the day.

Likened to an old mariner gazing out to sea, St Stephen's stands majestically on the hillside between Whitby and Ravenscar, overlooking Robin Hood's Bay. Built in 1821, its appearance can be severe but the church resonates with the history of a resilient North Sea fishing community.

This atmospheric, partly ruined building started life as a church in the 15th century but was converted to a mausoleum in 1877 after a new church was commissioned. Today, only the chancel and north chapel remain intact.

Built on 8th-century Saxon foundations, this 13th-century church sits on the bank of the river Ure at the eastern end of picturesque Wensleydale. Inside, its rich history is all around, with good examples of Medieval wall paintings, fine Flemish brasses and a 15th-century reliquary, which is claimed to have once held the relics of St Agatha.

Since being rescued by a group of walkers in 1931, St Mary's has been known as the Ramblers' Church. The repairs made then are recorded on the back of the church door. The church stands alone in the middle of a field filled with the bumps and furrows of earthworks that indicate the site of a Medieval manor house, for which St Mary's was probably originally the chapel.

Set near a beautiful village green, this unusual barrel-vaulted neo-Norman church has many interesting furnishings including a Jacobean pulpit, a 17th-century communion table and a vestry door from York Minster. This church is one of 340 cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust - the national charity protecting historic churches at risk.

This Halifax landmark is one of most magnificent buildings designed by architect Sir George Gilbert Scott and paid for by Edward Akroyd, a Halifax manufacturer. Scott thought it his best church but he still lamented it was not grander still. Completed in 1859, it has a 72-metre-high spire and dazzling stained glass created by Victorian master craftsmen.

Explore...

  • York Minster has traces of every age from the Roman occupation of York and is the largest Gothic Cathedral north of the Alps. 
  • Beverley Minster, the tomb attracted pilgrims from far and wide. 
  • Ripon Cathedral is a wonderfully atmospheric building that inspired the likes of Lewis Carroll and Wilfred Owen. 
  • St Hildas Church in Ampleforth is mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086. 
  • St John the Evangelist, Denby.  Denby was a Danish settlement dating back to the 9th century and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. 
  • The Church of St Michael & All Angels at Barton-le-Street - described by Pevsner as 'A sumptuous small Norman church, rebuilt without any restraint'.
  • Halifax Minster - With a medieval font cap, stunning prize winning Victorian east window, 18th century marigold window, unique Reformation box pews, Commonwealth period windows a rare survival) and monuments to the rich and the poor, industrialists and beggars - the Minster is a great place to start a visit to Halifax and its many attractions.
  • Rotherham Minster - The Parish Church has stood at the centre of the town for over a thousand years. Beginning as a small Saxon church sometime around the tenth century and then devloping via a larger Norman structure to the present perpendicular church that has graced the town centre since the fifteenth century. Perpendicular in style and cruciform in shape the church was granted Minster status in 2004.
  • Leeds Parish Church is a Grade I listed Victorian building and at its opening in 1841 it was the largest Church to have been built in England after St Paul's Cathedral.
  • Bradford Cathedral: Bradford's beautiful Cathedral is a hidden jewel waiting to be discovered. Set in tranquil gardens where once battle raged, the Cathedral is alive with a sense of story from its 13 centuries at the heart of Bradford

Religious Heritage Sites

Whether you're interested in history and heritage or simply seeking a place of peace and tranquility, Yorkshire's religious ruins will not disappoint.

  • Bolton Priory - Explore the ruins of the Priory and discover a landscape full of history and legend on the historic Bolton Abbey Estate.
  • Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal is Yorkshire's finest Cistercian Abbey ruin, with over 10 historic buildings, spanning over 800 years of history.
  • Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds is one of the best-preserved medieval Cistercian monasteries in the country. Constructed between 1152 and 1182, many of its buildings still survive virtually intact up to eaves level.
  • Monk Bretton Priory, Barnsley: Discover a well preserved ground plan amongst other delights at this old Monastery site.
  • Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire, is one of the most complete and impressive abbeys in Britain. Explore the atmospheric ruins, which are surrounded by stunning moorland, and visit the interactive museum to explore 900 years of history and view unique archaeological finds.
  • Roche Abbey in South Yorkshire is beautifully set in a valley landscaped by Capability Brown in the 18th century. 
  • Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire: The moody and magnificent ruins of Whitby Abbey have drawn successive generations - from Saints to Dracula - to this site of settlement and religious devotion.