Knaresborough St John the Baptist History

Photographs of Church and Graveyard
Index to MI's
War Memorial inside the Church

Location: Church Lane, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire        [ map ]

History: It is believed that a place of worship has existed on the site currently occupied by St.John's Church, for over a thousand years but the first mention of Knaresborough Parish Church appears in the records of Nostell Priory near Wakefield. This states that in the year 1114 King Henry I granted the "Church at Cnaresburgh" to the canons at Nostell. The church was originally dedicated to St.Mary and held that name until the Protestant reforms of the 16th century when it became the Church of St.John the Baptist.

Following the Scottish raid in 1318, the church fell into a dilapidated state and in 1328 the then king, Edward III honey-mooning with his young bride Philippa in Knaresborough, promised her that he would arrange the reconstruction of the church. Queen Philippa took a considerable interest in the restoration work and in particular, in the re-designing of the St.Edmund's Chapel, then St.Edmund's Chantry. It is not known exactly when the restoration work began and ended but throughout this period and during the Black Death in 1349, the townsfolk had the support of Queen Philippa who was often in residence in the castle. Philippa died in 1369 and her devotion to the town of Knaresborough and the church, was long remembered by the people and the church became known as the Queen's Church.

The bells were first hung in 1774 and the present clock was installed in 1884. The face carries St.Paul's phrase, "redeeming the time" and the exterior view from the north side shows the gargoyles and turret stair-way up the tower which is mainly late 12th century. The churchyard was landscaped in 1973 and many of the gravestones can be seen around the immediate area of St.John's.

Reference: "The Queen's Church - The Story of Knaresborough Parish Church" by Arnold Kellett, first published in 1978 by the Friends of Knaresborough Parish Church.

Connecting Churches:

Harrogate : Brearton : St John the Baptist
Knaresborough : Holy Trinity
Knaresborough : Goldsborough : St Mary

Parish Records:

Knaresborough Parish Records are now lodged at

North Yorkshire Archives

The County Record Office
Malpas Road

Telephone: 01609 777585
Fax: 01609 777078


Deposited Registers (NYRO, microfilm only)

Baptisms: Registers with incumbent (Microfilm 1561-1933)
Marriages: Registers with incumbent (Microfilm 1561-1912)
Burials: Registers with incumbent (Microfilm 1561-1958)

Bishop's Transcripts:

1670, 1674, 1675, 1679-1682, 1684, 1686-1688, 1690, 1691, 1696,1698, 1699, 1702, 1705-1718, 1721, 1723, 1725-1728, 1731-1738, 1740-1933 (All at WYAS, Leeds, plus one other, undated, c. 1670)

IGI Coverage:

C 1670-1764, 1765-1778, 1819-1833, 1835-1839;
M 1670-1764, 1765-1778, 1819-1833, 1835-1836

From "Kelly's West Riding Directory 1908"

The parish church of St. John the Baptist, originally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, is an ancient and spacious cruciform building of stone, principally in the Perpendicular style with some remains of Early English, and consists of chancel, with north and south chantry chapels, nave of four bays, aisles, transepts, south porch and a central tower with four pinnacles and a spire, containing a clock and 8 bells, recast and increased from four to 8 in 1774.

The Slingsby chapel on the north side of the chancel contains a number of monuments to the Slingsby family, baronets of Scriven. In the centre of the chapel is a fine altar tomb with recumbent effigies in Caen stone, erected in 1602 by Henry Slingsby, their son, of Francis de Slingsby obit 4th August 1600 and Mary (Percy) his wife obit 1598. There is also a memorial to Thomas Slingsby buried 10th February 1670, and on the south side, within a monumental niche, is a standing figure of Sir William de Slingsby Kt. Commissioner General obit August 1604. On the north side is an effigy in Roman costume of Sir Henry de Slingsby Kt. high-sheriff 1611-12 obit 17th December 1654, and on the floor, a slab of black marble inscribed to Sir Henry de Slingsby Bt., of Nova Scotia, author of 'A Diary of Events 1638-48' who was beheaded 8th June 1658, for attempting to restore Charles II.
There is a mural monument of white marble to Dorothy (Craddock) wife of Sir Thomas Slingsby Bart, obit 24th January 1673, and another altar tomb with a fine marble effigy of Sir Charles Slingsby 10th and last baronet who died 4th February 1869, erected by his sister Emma Louisa Catherine Slingsby.

The Roundell chapel on the south side of the chancel, was restored in 1875, and a stained window erected by William Roundell Esq., in memory of his parents and brother and sister.
There are also stained windows to the Rev. James Fawcett, a former vicar, and to the Powell, Beaumont, and Shaw families. There is one at the east end to the memory of Hugh G. Christian Esq., of Fysche Hall. The stained west window is a memorial to the late Sir Charles Slingsby Bart.

The church was thoroughly repaired and reseated in 1872, when the reredos was presented by a member of the Collins family.
The font is perpendicular, and has a carved oak cover of Jacobean date.
A new organ has been provided at a cost of £1,100.
There are sittings for 600 persons.
The register dates from the year 1560, and is in good condition.
The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £430, including 150 acres of glebe, with residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Ripon, and held since 1888 by the Rev. William Edward Hancock M.A., of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Hon Canon of Ripon and Rural Dean of Knaresborough. The appropriate tithes amounting to £339, belong to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and lessees.

(Transcribed by Alan Longbottom)

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