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East Riding
Goodmanham village centre by the church
Grid reference: SE889431
Location: 53°52’36"N, 0°38’56"W
Population: 244  (2011)
Post town: York
Postcode: YO43
Dialling code: 01430
Local Government
Council: East Riding of Yorkshire
East Yorkshire

Goodmanham is a small village in the East Riding of Yorkshire, some two miles north-east of Market Weighton. The village is situated on the Yorkshire Wolds Way a long-distance footpath.

This is a place celebrated in history: it was at Goodmanham, according to Bede, that a key event took place which secured the conversion of the Northumbrians to Christianity. Its name is then recorded as Godmundingaham, meaning 'home of the people of Godmund'.

The village is built in a favourable position on a south-facing slope of the Yorkshire Wolds between two streams. It has a plenteous supply of water from numerous springs and naturally occurring limestone for building. The land is extraordinarily fertile in this region.

The 2011 census record Goodmanham parish with a population of 244.


All Hallows Church, Goodmanham

The earliest traces of settlement here from the Stone Age. There are many ancient burial sites.[1] The boundaries of the village lie along the lines of ancient earthworks and these are evidence that it was a prehistoric place of worship. Near the western boundary of the village lies one of the most ancient roads of Britain, later adopted by the Romans. Settlement at this time is indicated by finds of Samian ware and coins of the period.

In Anglo-Saxon times, the village reached a position of great importance and fame. It became the site of the great pagan temple of Anglo Saxon Northumbria. In the year 627, according to Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, the temple was dramatically destroyed by the high priest Coifi on his conversion to Christianity, along with King Edwin of Northumbria:

"I have known long since" [Coifi] said, "that there is nothing in this religion that we have professed...the more I sought the truth of it the less I found...this can give us life salvation and eternal happiness...I advise that we burn the useless sanctuary – and who better than myself as an example?" [2]

So saying, he borrowed a war stallion and a spear ("and nom his spere on hond") both of which were forbidden to him as a priest. He galloped to the temple and flung the weapon into the temple; profaning and defiling it. He then ordered that the temple and all its enclosures be burned to the ground.

It is often said that Coifi rode from Edwin's council in York to destroy the temple at Goodmanham, a distance of around twenty miles. Local tradition has it that the ride was from the king's summer camp at Londesborough, which is two miles from Goodmanham.

We have no information about Goodmanham from the Viking period. It is next found as a listing in the Domesday Book produced under William the Conqueror. A few names of resident farmers are given: Colgri, Orm, Norman, William de Coleville. These names show the presence of Normans now occupying the land.

The church of All Hallows now stands on or near the site of the original pagan temple. This church dates from around 1130 AD and replaces an earlier one of wooden construction built in the Saxon period. The church is a Grade I listed building.[3]

A tumulus, located to the south-west of the village, is also supposed to contain ruins. One of the many 'sacred wells' in Britain dedicated to St Helena is located nearby.[4]

In 1823 Baines' History, Directory and Gazetteer of the County of York gave an alternative Goodmanham name of "Godmundin Graham". The village was a parish partly in the Wapentake of Harthill, and partly in the Liberty of St Peter. The population at the time was 220, with occupations including fifteen farmers, a boot & shoe maker, a corn miller, a shoemaker, a wheelwright, a blacksmith who was also the parish clerk, and the licensed victualler of The Star public house. A carrier operated between the village and Market Weighton and Beverley once a week.[5]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Goodmanham)


  1. "The Tumuli of the Yorkshire Wolds". Semi-Weekly Wisconsin (Milwaukee, Wisconsin): p. 1. 21 November 1866. 
  2. Arthur Mee. 1000 Heroes: Immortal Men & Women Of Every Age & Every Land. 
  3. National Heritage List 1084132: Church of All Hallows (Grade I listing)
  4. Paulus (5 August 2006). "St. Helen's Well (Goodmanham)". The Modern Antiquarian. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  5. Baines, Edward: 'History, Directory and Gazetteer of the County of York' (1823); pages 210-211