High Melton

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Churchyard, St James' Church, High Melton

High Melton is a village and parish in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It has a population of 339. [1] reducing to 300 at the 2011 Census.[2]

Parish church

The Church of St James dominates the village. The church has Saxon origins [3][4][5] but the main part of the existing building was established about AD 1100 and handed over to Avice de Tania in 1153 AD to be put under the care of the Cistercian nuns at Hampole.[6] It was originally intended as a Chapel of Ease to the Priory at Hampole, which had been founded a few years earlier by Avice de Tania with her husband, William (de) Clairfait,[7] whose gift and that of the churches of Adwick and Melton were later confirmed by Archbishop Roger of York.[8][9][10]

Until at least the reign of Richard II (1377–1400), the church was known as the "Church of All Hallows" and served by nuns from the Hampole Priory, along with Chaplains appointed by them. About this time, a tower was added and a Lady Chapel[11] to the south-east. As a result, the ground plan is rather unusual, having two aisles - one through a short nave within the chancel and the western tower, and also a continuous south aisle to the whole length of the church leading to the Lady Chapel.

Before the Reformation there was no ecclesiastical parish of High Melton (then known as Melton-super-Montem or Melton-on-the-Hill), remaining under the spiritual direction of the Priory at Hampole, which appointed a Curate[12] and claimed the income from the lands.[13] No Vicar was appointed until following the Civil War, when John Norobolt was installed as first Vicar of Melton-on-the-Hill in 1660 following the Restoration.[14]


  1. UK Census (2001). "Local Area Report – High Melton Parish (00CE026)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/sources/census_2001_ks/report?compare=00CE026 }}
  2. UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – High Melton Parish (E04000082)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/sources/census_2011_ks/report?compare=E04000082. Retrieved 3 July 2019 
  3. Ryder, P.F., 'Saxon Churches in South Yorkshire', South Yorkshire Council, County Archaeology Monograph No 2, 1982, pp 45-61.
  4. English Heritage - Heritage Gateway listing, ref. Monument Number SE 50 SW 6 [1]
  5. Coatsworth, E., 'Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture' Volume VIII: Western Yorkshire (2008). Although no documentary evidence exists for the establishment of the church in pre-conquest times, early mediaeval architecture, markings and grave slabs indicate that a church existed in the period 1042-1066.
  6. Lewis, S., 'A Topographical Dictionary of England' (1848), Institute of Historical Research, Pages 287-291 [2]
  7. Whiting C.E. Rev. Prof., Excavations at Hampole Priory, Vol XXXIV part 2, Part 134 Yorkshire Arch. Journ. MCMXXIV pp. 204-212.
  8. 'Houses of Cistercians nuns: Priory of Hampole', A History of the County of York: Volume 3 (1974), pp. 163-165.
  9. Armitage, E.S., 'A Key to English Antiquities: with special reference to the Sheffield and Rotherham District', W Townsend (1897), pp. 261-262. Following Avice de Tania's death, William Clairfait (formal name : Willielmus de Clarofagio filius Godrici) married the Norman heiress of Sprotbrough, Albreda de Lisours, in 1167. Some time after William's death, one year after this marriage, Albreda formally transferred some of the lands she had inherited through her marriage to William (who was Lord of Emley) to the nuns at Hampole. This included the Melton and Adwick churches.
  10. Powlett, Catherine, Duchess of Cleveland, The Battle Abbey Roll (with some Account Of The Norman Lineages), Volume I, (1889), John Murray, London [3]
  11. The Lady Chapel was founded as a Chantry by the Chaplain appointed by the Cistercian Nuns, known as John de Melton [4]. It is recorded that "this very Chantry founded in the Church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin". The Chantry was originally endowed by Lords of the Manor Hugh Cressi and William Dronfield with lands at Melton, Cadeby, Bentley, Goldthorpe, Adwick-le-Street and Mexborough. With the passing of the first Chantries Act in 1545, the "clear value" of the Chantry in St James' Church was (in 1546) at £5.9s.6½d and the Cantarist is recorded as being one Richard Mawer.
  12. Correspondence between Robert Parkyn Priest of Adwick-le-Street (1541–1569) and William Watson, Curate of Melton on the Hill, see Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (1963), Fifth Series, 13:49-76 Cambridge University Press
  13. Dickens, AG, 'Robert Parkyn's Narrative of the Reformation', The English Historical Review, 1947 LXII (CCXLII), p. 58
  14. Doncaster Archives, Records of St James, Ref: P20, Register 1538-1860

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