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Church’s grading re-evaluated

20 December 2013

ENGLISH HERITAGE

Stonework: carved capitals at St Michael and All Angels, Barton-le-Street, north Yorkshire

Stonework: carved capitals at St Michael and All Angels, Barton-le-Street, north Yorkshire

A VICTORIAN parish church that replaced a demolished building dating from Norman times has had its heritage grading lifted to the highest level, after a reappraisal of its architecture.

The church, St Michael and All Angels, in the village of Barton-le-Street, near Malton, in north Yorkshire, was built in 1871 on the site of a church erected in the 1160s, and incorporated many Romanesque carvings from the original. In 1954, it was given a Grade II listing, but this has now been increased to Grade I, marking it as of exceptional interest and importance.

English Heritage's regional team leader for designations, Nick Bridgland, said: "Since the 1950s, there is a much greater appreciation of Victorian architecture. . . While pulling something down and rebuilding it might not be seen as sensitive, here, the way that they have done it - in a Romanesque idiom, and making use of all these elements intelligently and carefully - has created a very nice church.

"We were asked to reassess it on the basis that its Grade II listing didn't reflect the true glory of this little church, and the outstanding quality and quantity of its Romanesque carving.

"Many churches have very good bits of Romanesque carving, but often they are just propped up in the porch, or used as display pieces. Here, 450 elements have all been reused in places which make architectural sense; so, for instance, a fantastic corbel course has been reused as a corbel course, even though it's on the inside of the building. The care and intelligence with which the pieces have been reused merited the highest possible grade."

Grade I status also confers greater protection to the church. English Heritage will now automatically be involved in any discussions about its future, or before any work affecting it can be done. "It is also a bar at which point grants can be triggered," Mr Bridgland said. "The grading really is intended to flag up what a really fantastic building this is. . . We like to think of it as an accolade."

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