St Patricks Church Patrington

Some history

The Queen of Holderness.

A quote from Simon Jenkins' book "England's thousand best churches":-

"Patrington church calls itself "Queen of Holderness" and rightly so.  It is queen too of what I regard as the finest era of English Gothic, the final flowering of the Decorated style in the early 14th century before the Black Death. 

Patrington lies in one of England's appendices, the Holderness peninsula beyond Hull.  Its splendour indicates that this must, at very least, have been prosperous farming and trading country in the Middle Ages.  The church is cruciform with a nave and aisled transepts, but is an aesthetic unity.  It was begun at the end of the 13th century, its spire completed in the mid-14th.  The stone is a pale, silvery limestone.  The window tracery is reticulated and other forms of curvilinear, the openings divided outside by boldly planned pinnacled buttresses which seem to act as braces to the whole composition.  The bare tower has corner pinnacles on open bases.  These support an arcaded octagon which embraces the base of the spire, a device of great delicacy.  The proportions of the steeple in relation to the nave and transepts seems perfect."

It is, however, a mysterious as well as a beautiful Queen, with little detail known currently of its history until the late Victorian period. 

Saxons, Normans and Norsemen.

Patrington is covered in the Domesday Book, but there is no mention of a church in the parish, despite there being glebe of around 300 acres set apart for two clerics.  Whether this is an accidental omission or whether the building had been destroyed in 1070 or 1071, when Danes landed on the north bank of the Humber and carried fire and sword as far as York before the area was reconquered by the Normans, we do not know.  At the time of the Norman conquest, the manor of Patrington had long been in the possession of the Archbishops of York, reputedly granted by King Athelstan in around 930.  There is some documentary evidence of this grant being renewed in around 1033 by King Cnut to Archbishop Alfric.  It is a reasonable assumption that there would have been both Saxon and Norman churches in Patrington.  Some of the stonework in the nave  bears traces of Norman workmanship, probably re-used from an earlier building.

The Archbishops.

There are various entries in the Archiepiscopal Registers pertinent to Patrington, including those of Archbishops Greenfield and Melton in the 14th century, when the current graceful and beautiful building was being (in part) constructed.  We have recently discovered a reference in the Greenfield Rolls, dated to November 1315,  to Stephen, son of Robert de Patrington, who was reportedly one of the masons employed in the construction of St. Patrick's and also a Precentor of York Minster.  His remains may be buried in the church. Construction was probably continued during the tenure of Archbishop la Zouch and completed in the time of Archbishops Thoresby and/or Neville.  There is no information currently available for the period from 1400 until the reign of Henry VIII, when it appears possession of the manor passed to the Crown.

Crown possession and the subsequent years.

There is no further reliable information through the reign of Elizabeth I and the Civil War, until an entry in the Parish Register in 1684, when the then Rector (Edward Saunder) recorded that Sir Robert Hildyard was the baronet of Patrington (assumed to refer to the Manor of Patrington, later held by the Marshall family).  The Constable family, whose ancestry goes back to the Norman conquest, clearly had some role in the Manor of the Rectory and there is mention of their name around 1556.  The advowson of the Rectory  was sold by William Constable, Viscount Dunbar, to Clare College, Cambridge on 15 May 1717, for £550 (a very large sum in those days), after which the living was held by former Fellows of Clare College, at least until the Rev. H. E. Maddock (Rector 1884 - 1901).  Up to the start of the 20th century, both of these Manors possessed land surrounding the church, which sometimes confuses the historic picture.

The Rectors.

After the Domesday reference to glebe for two unnamed (and possibly non-existent after the Danish depredations) clerks,  there is no information currently available until 1256, during the reign of Henry III.  In the 766 years since then, there are forty-six Rectors recorded.  There are fourteen recorded between 1256 and 1457 – the latter year being during the first reign of Henry VI and the early years of the Wars of the Roses.  There is then a break in information until 1535, the year after the Act of Supremacy which made Henry VIII head of the English Church and (presumably) shifted patronage of St. Patricks to the Crown and its supporters.  There are then nine Rectors until the sale of the advowson to Clare College in 1717 (in the reign of George I), with a further seventeen until 1960, when there is a reference to rights of patronage passing to the York Diocesan Board of Patronage.  To the present there have been six more Rectors, including the current  incumbent.  A list of their names is available on request.

Until the late 20th century, the Rector of Patrington was responsible for the cure of souls in the parish and the worship of God in our iconic church.  Before the turn of that century, the parishes for which the Rector was responsible had increased from one to four, the neighbouring parish of Winestead being added in 1967; and Hollym and Welwick parishes added in 1981.  In 2014, the incumbent of St. Patrick’s became responsible for the six parishes (and at the time, seven churches) listed on the “Benefice” page.

We have discovered a short film voiced by John Betjeman in we think 1955.  To view it. click on the link below:- 

We have also been pointed to a YouTube video posted in June 2019 - the link is:-

You may have to copy and paste these links into your browser. .


Church officers are researching (when time permits) what more can be found about our wonderful building's history.  If you have some information you feel would be useful, please email one of the Churchwardens, the PCC Secretary or the PCC Treasurer! 

Powered by Church Edit