Norman and Plantagenet - 1130-1485

From Bernard de Baliol's first stone chapel to Richard III's grand Collegiate Church, St Mary's early years included some decisive moments...

Norman and Plantagenet – 1130-1485

1130 St Mary’s Church is founded by Bernard Balliol I.  A charter, confirmed by Henry I, grants the church’s patronage to St Mary’s Abbey, York but they rent it back to Bernard for four golden marks a year! The church consists of a narrow oblong nave and a long chancel. Two round-headed windows on the left in the chancel, and a window above the arcade in the north aisle survive.

1161-1181 St Mary’s gains a north aisle with rounded arches and a highly decorated south doorway – work attributed to Bernard Baliol the Younger (son of Bernard Baliol I).

1270 – 1330s A small tower with a lead spire is built, and within sixty years a south aisle with pointed arches. Robert de Mortham, Vicar of Gainford Church (the parent church to St Mary’s), founds a chantry to the Virgin Mary (an altar for special prayers) in the south transept. His tomb effigy now lies in the north transept.

1380 The north transept and aisle are created.

1478-1485 – The church is remodelled to create a Collegiate Church for Richard Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III): aisles are widened; the north porch and two-storey vestry are added. The nave walls are heightened to create a clerestory level of windows. The chancel arch is rebuilt with sculpted heads of Edward IV and Richard as Duke of Gloucester. Richard’s badge, the ‘white boar’, is carved into stonework outside the south transept.