Lesbury Church of St Mary

Has been described as a Questionable Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameLesbury Church of St Mary
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishLesbury

Parish Church. Core probably C12; north aisle and chapel added and chancel remodelled in C13; east window mid-C14; late or post-medieval part rebuilding of tower; vestry probably C17; 1849 restoration including refacing and part rebuilding of south wall, addition of south porch, new parapet and roof to tower and re-cutting of much internal detail; chancel arcade altered 1853. Squared stone; large squared masonry of C12 type in tower, roughly-squared stone in vestry, C19 parts tooled stone; cut dressings, tooled-and-margined in C19 parts. Graduated Lakeland slate roofs except for Welsh slates on chancel. Plan: Nave with west tower, south porch and 2-bay north aisle; chancel with 2-bay north aisle and north-east vestry.

Tower shows complex evidence of rebuilding and repair; plinth, stepped and chamfered set-backs at mid-height and irregular stepped clasping buttress at south-west corner. West window is C19 lancet; slatted belfry openings with plain pointed heads, set north of centre in east and west walls; no openings on north. C19 parapet on block corbels; pyramidal roof with weathercock.

South side of nave all of 1849; large stepped buttress at west end; gabled porch,with C20 glazed doors in double-chamfered arch under worn sundial, enclosing studded double doors under moulded round arch on shafted jambs, possibly copy of C12 original; one lancet to west of porch and three to east. North aisle shows medieval masonry heightened in C19; old stepped buttresses, blocked north door and blocked small square-headed windows; C19 lancets.

South side of chancel is 1849 refacing with C13 features reproduced; three bays with chamfered plinth, shallow buttresses, lancets and priest's door. C14 3-light east window cutting C13 chamfered string course; clasping buttresses and C19 trefoil opening in rebuilt gable. North chapel shows restored C14- style 3-light window

Vestry shows old studded door on east in chamfered stone surround, with blocked window over; C19 two-light window and older blocked loop on north. Coped gables on moulded kneelers, with finial crosses.

Interior plastered except for north aisle. Tall double-chamfered tower arch on half-round responds. Arcade of broad double-chamfered arches with circular pier and responds with heavy chamfered impost band carried back on both wall faces. Similar but taller chancel arch; chancel arcade again similar but without the impost band. All detail heavily re-cut. Chancel has retooled trefoiled piscina on south and restored rebated square aumbry on north. Nave has C19 roof of collar-beam trusses with upper king posts, with braces rising from re-cut stone corbels. 5-bay chancel roof has heavy cambered ties resting on re-cut or renewed corbels and carrying purlins, ridge and separate straining- pieces linking the tie faces below the ridge; ties; purlins and straining pieces have relief-carved flower and leaf bosses, grotesque animals and Percy emblems. Old studded door from chapel to vestry.

C15 octagonal font carved with Percy crescents and fetterlocks. Old creed and pater boards flanking chancel arch; commandments board and George III royal arms under tower. Mid-C18 mural tablet in chancel to Garret family of Wooden; some C19 ledger stones. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The Church of St Mary was built in C12, but altered in later centuries. Prior to major C19 restoration was similar to Longhoughton Church. Suggested by Brooke as built with the intent of being used as a refuge. Any parish church is certainly likely to have been used as a refuge by villagers but this is far from a church built specifically with such an intent in mind. In original form this would have been a fairly typical small Norman church like many across the county. Gatehouse can not see any feature which might suggest it was especially defensible.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNU236117
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  • Brooke, C.J., 2000, Safe Sanctuaries (Edinburgh; John Donald) p. 86-7
  • Pevsner, N., 1957, Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 204


  • Ryder, P.F., 1999, 'Lesbury, St Mary' Church Archaeology Vol. 3 p. 54-5