Parish Church of St. Sampson
(14) Parish Church of St. Sampson (Plates 10, 17;
Fig. 28) stands S.E. of Church Street and backs onto
Patrick Pool on the N.E., with a churchyard to S.E.
The walls are mainly of magnesian limestone and the
roofs are tiled. The church is aligned N.E. to S.W. and
stands obliquely over part of the Roman city wall. A
fragment of a cross-shaft of the first half of the 11th
century, found built into a house in Newgate (289) within the area of the former churchyard, suggests a pre-Conquest date for the earliest church, but excavations
by the York Archaeological Trust in 1974 revealed a
stone wall under the S. arcade which appeared to be
Norman (YPSR 1974, 28).
In the 12th century the advowson was in the possession of Pontefract Priory, and by 1226 it had been
acquired by the Archdeacon of Richmond, but the form
of the church at that time is not now ascertainable.
After disputes between the two contenders for the
advowson, the presentation came into the hands of the
archbishop in 1332, and into the king's hands in 1334.
It remained in the royal gift until 1394, when Richard II
appropriated the church to the Vicars Choral of York
Minster, in whose hands it remained until 1936.
The present church, though a Victorian rebuilding,
is in general design and largely in actual fabric a 15th-century entity. The Chancel and Nave are contemporary
with the two aisles. The North Aisle dates from after
1444 when Thomas Karr left 20 marks towards the
building of the N. aisle with a gable, provided it was
started within three or four years of his death. It was to
be to the same design as the 'recently-built' South Aisle.
Changes of alignment in the N. and S. walls suggest
that the two eastern bays of the aisles represent rebuilding of earlier chapels. That to the N. may have
been connected with the chantries to the Virgin Mary,
set up in 1268 and 1337 (see Monument (291)), and
subsequently referred to as being in the N. side of the
church. In 1405 John de Helmsley established a chantry
at the altar of the Holy Trinity, and this probably
indicates the beginning of the building on the S. side,
to which Robert de Louth in 1407 left 40s. for a glass
window. Bequests by Richard Ripley and William Tod
in 1485 show that the West Tower was then being built.
In 1489 the executors of John Karr established a chantry
in honour of the Holy Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary,
SS. Nicholas, Benedict and Barbara, and All Saints. As
there were already chantries to the Holy Trinity and
the Virgin Mary, this seems to have been known mainly
as St. Nicholas' chantry.
An attempt was made in 1549 to combine St. Helen's
with St. Sampson's, but this was thwarted by an Act of
Parliament in 1553. St. Sampson's, however, seems to
have acquired two bells from St. Helen's. The tower
was damaged by gunshot in 1644, and most of the
monuments were destroyed by the Parliamentarians.
The church was largely rebuilt between 1845 and 1848,
except for the tower, the top stage of which was
removed. The architect was Frederick Bell of York,
with Mr. Laycock as mason and Mr. Gray as joiner.
J. W. Knowles worked in the church, painting the
chancel ceiling in 1865 and providing a new stainedglass window in the chancel in 1866. Further restorations
at the E. end were carried out in 1875 under C. Hodgson Fowler, and again in 1881 and 1905. In 1910 the
tower was restored and a new top stage added. The
church was closed for services in 1969, and in 1974 was
restored and converted into a centre for old people.
Architectural Description. The church is an aisled quadrilateral, with a tower at the W. end of the nave projecting
slightly beyond the main body of the church. There is a
vestry built against the E. wall of the S. aisle.
The Chancel and Nave, of five bays, are structurally undivided, with two eastern bays forming the chancel marked
by a rood beam and a timber openwork screen. The E. wall is
gabled, with a stone coping and a truncated finial. It has a
weathered and chamfered plinth, and a weathered string-course at sill level beneath a window of three cusped lights
with geometrical tracery, flanked by gabled two-stage
buttresses with double offsets. The N. and S. arcades consist of
octagonal piers with moulded capitals and chamfered bases
with a square lowest stage, supporting pointed arches of two
chamfered orders. The western arches spring from complete
piers set against the piers of the tower, to which the wall faces
above are linked by miniature arches on the sides facing the
The North Aisle is of six bays, divided by gabled two-stage
buttresses. There is a difference in alignment and in profiles of
mouldings between the two E. bays and the four W. bays.
The E. window has three trefoiled lights with curvilinear
tracery in a two-centred head. In the N. wall, two windows
to E. have two ogee cinque-foiled main lights under an embattled transom and four tracery lights in a square head. In the
four W. bays are windows of generally similar form but with
two-centred arches to the main lights and no transoms. The
W. window has three cinque-foiled lights with geometrical
tracery in a two-centred head.
The South Aisle is generally similar to the N. aisle, also with
a difference in alignment and in profiles of mouldings between
the two E. bays and the four W. bays. The E. window has
three ogee-headed lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head. Below is a small doorway to the 19th-century
vestry. The windows in the S. wall are uniform with those
in the N. wall, and the W. window has three lights with plain
two-centred heads and vertical tracery in a two-centred head.
Fig. 28. (14) Church of St. Sampson, before conversion.
The West Tower, partly incorporated in the body of the
church, has octagonal E. piers on square bases with spurs, with
corresponding splayed inner angles to the W. responds, and a
vice in the S.W. corner. The E. arch is of three chamfered
orders, with the inner order resting on demi-angels with
shields, that to S. charged with a merchant's mark, probably
of John Karr, Lord Mayor in 1456 (Plate 29). The N. arch is
of two orders, the S. arch of three, and the W. rear-arch of one,
resting on the wing of a defaced angel on the S. side and
springing from a wider reveal on the N., with a demi-angel
with a shield to the right of the springing. The piers and
responds, but not the W. wall, have a chamfered plinth.
Externally the tower is divided into two stages. The whole
of the W. wall was refaced in 1910. It has a moulded plinth
and four-stage buttresses to the W. The W. window is of four
lights, with vertical tracery. The bell-chamber above has a
rectangular opening in the E. wall and louvred two-light
arched openings in the N. and S. walls, with a restored canopied niche containing a statue of St. Sampson at the same level
in the W. wall. The top stage dates from 1910.
The Roofs are of the 19th century, with some 15th-century
bosses reused. The chancel roof is supported by three main
trusses of arched-braced construction, and two intermediate
trusses with tie-beams. The bosses are mainly of foliage but
also include an eagle, a lion's mask, two wild men, and an
animal amidst foliage. The nave roof has three arched-braced
collar-beam trusses; each truss has three carved bosses, including an eagle, a moustachioed head with a square head-dress, a
lamb with the bearded head of St. John the Baptist on a charger,
and five shields; of these one has modern painted heraldry and
another is carved with a cross encircled by a wreath; the other
three are held by angels and are carved with the arms of
Bromflet(?) and Knoll(?), and an unidentified design, possibly
a merchant's mark.
The N. aisle roof has seven arched-braced collar-beam
trusses, each with three carved bosses. The bosses include the
heads of a wild man, crowned and bearded man, bearded man
wearing a torce, bearded man with a bonnet, woman with a
head-dress and woman with a wimple; muzzled bear, serpent
coiled round a quatrefoil, lion of St. Mark, lion fighting a
dragon, Catherine wheel, octagonal tower, and five shields,
four held by angels; one shield is plain, others are carved with
the merchant's mark of John Karr(?), the arms of Sandford(?)
and Wistow(?), and a cross voided. The S. aisle roof has five
arched-braced collar-beam trusses in the two E. bays. The
subsidiary trusses have five bosses each and the central truss has
a single boss at the apex. The bosses are mainly foliage, apart
from four grotesque faces and two angels holding blank
shields. The W. section of the roof, of common-rafter construction, has no bosses.
Fittings—Aumbry: in N. aisle, in E. wall, rectangular opening
of uncertain date. Bells: (1) large bell inscribed '+FIAT
VOLVNTAS TVA PATER OMNIPOTENS' and initials
'R B', 16th-century; (2) sanctus bell, dated 1775. Bell-frame:
with posts and curved braces, probably 15th-century, much
repaired, and not in original position. Benefactor's Table: in
S. aisle, on W. wall, sarcophagus-shaped marble tablet,
probably by Fisher, recording benefaction of £40 by Mrs.
Alice Green, dated 1818. Brasses and Indents. Brass: in S. aisle,
near E. end, to William Richardson, 1680, signed Joshua Mann.
Indents: in slab reused for Atkinson (see Floor-slab (2)), three
indents, two for kneeling figures and one for inscription,
mediaeval. Doors: (1) in N. doorway, divided externally by
mouldings into tall panels; in heads of four main panels are
tracery forms based on repeated square-headed windows
(Plate 26), 15th-century, extensively renewed; (2) in S.
doorway, six-panel door, probably 18th-century. Glass: in
tower, W. window, wl, 2nd light, various mediaeval fragments, including a bishop blessing, and 17th-century spiked
flowers. Inscription: in S. aisle, on S. wall, white marble tablet
with shaped lower side and rectangular background of grey
marble, recording reopening of church in 1848 after rebuilding.
Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: in N. aisle, on W.
wall, (1) . . . ., daughter of John Awkingham, damaged,
obelisk with cartouche beneath, 18th-century. In S. aisle, on
S. wall, (2) Charlotte Thornton, 1850, white marble sarcophagus on black marble background, shaped top; (3) Richard
Clarke, 1815, white marble sarcophagus with foliate bracket
feet, black marble background with shaped top, signed Plows;
on W. wall, (4) tablet flanked by pilasters, moulded cornice
and base, pulvinated frieze and dentilled cornice, probably to
James George Atkinson, 1729, inscription illegible. In churchyard, many headstones now relaid: in path on S. side of church,
including (5) Ann Waud, 1810, and son; (6) Jeremiah Hall,
1751; (7) Joseph Munby, 1816, three infant children, widow
Jane Munby, 1819, her mother Jane Pontey, 1840, flat slab;
(8) Ann Welsh, 1797, . . . ., her daughter Ann, wife of Robert
Heselgrave, 1797, Robert Heselgrave, fallen headstone with
sarcophagus and torch and arrow in saltire at angles, signed
R. Mountain; others to E., N. and W. of church, including,
to W. of N. aisle, (9) Ann, daughter of Ann Potts, 1798.
Floor-slabs: in N. aisle, (1) Martha, daughter of Dr. Green of
Doncaster, 1723; (2) the Rev. Mr. Robert Atkinson, curate of
Bulmer, 1767, see Brasses, Indents; (3) . . . . ., youngest daughter
of . . . . d Seller, Gentleman; (4) Thomas Hands(?), woollen
draper; (5) David Johnston, 1700; (6) Margaret Gee, 1818;
(7) Elizabeth, widow of the Rev. John . . . . . ., formerly
minister of this [congregation], 182(5)(?); (8) Christopher
. . . . ., 1761, . . . . . ., 1791, . . . . ., 1797, John Bell, 1802, and
others earlier, very worn. In S. aisle, (9) Ann Ingram, spinster
daughter of M(etcalfe) Ingram of Fossgate, 1758; (10) . . . . . .,
and Sarah, wife of John Clapham, 1843; (11) Mary Wilk[inson](?), 1832, Tobias Jackson, 1833.
Piscina: in N. aisle, in E. wall, trefoil-headed recess with
blind spandrels, no bowl or drain, probably upper part of
piscina, mediaeval. Plate: (dispersed; information from Fallow
and McCall and later inventories) included, (1) cup with mark
'W.B.', London 1767–8, inscribed 'St. Sampsons Parish 1767
Wm Renald & Jas Woodhouse Church Wardens', now at
church of St. James the Deacon, Acomb Moor; (2) copy of the
foregoing, makers' mark R.C./J.B., York 1812–3, engraved
'St Sampson's Parish 1812 John Mounser & Wm Bean Church
Wardens', now at Murton Parish Church; (3) paten with
added foot, paten inscribed 'William Watson Thomas Bradley
Church Wardens 1806', by I. H., London 1791, foot by N.W.
& Co., York 1804–5, now at All Saints, Pavement; (4) two
salvers from Holy Trinity, King's Court, inscribed 'The Gift
of John Waller Gent for ye Communion Service in Christ's
Church York in memory of Elizabeth his Wife who dyed
Anno 1696', London 1695–6, now at church of St. James the
Deacon, Acomb Moor; (5) brass alms-dish with inscription
'Wm. Simpson gave this Brass Bason to St. Samp' Church
May ye 10th 1705', now in New Earswick Parish Church.
Safe: in vestry, cast-iron, decorated with tracery forms, 19th-century. Stoup: in S. aisle, in S. wall, to E. of S. door, octagonal
stoup with pendant base and lead-lined basin set in arched
recess, probably mediaeval.