Headland Benefice

History of St Peter’s Church


We are grateful to Reader John Walker of Bridlington for this brief history. Some of the information is from the Victoria County History (East Riding).

The church of St. Peter is built of stone and consists of nave, chancel, north aisle, west tower and south porch. The tower and much of the nave were rebuilt between 1890 and 1905. Of the aisle-less Norman church there remains the jambs of the south doorway, the chancel arch and the font. The low but massive chancel arch is semi-circular and of three orders, supported on jamb shafts with scalloped capitals.
The unusual square font has a cable ornament round the top, an attached shaft at each corner with moulded base and scalloped capital and a different geometrical pattern covering each of the four faces. At the end of the 12th century a north aisle was added to the nave and the chancel was apparently rebuilt.

There are small lancet windows in the south and east walls of the chancel and at the east end of the aisle. In the north wall of the chancel is an opening, not thought to be asquint which may survive from the 12th century chancel. The 3- bay arcade to the aisle, dating from c.1170-1200 has semi- circular arches of two chamfered orders. The piers are circular with nail-head ornament to the capitals and water-holding bases.

The church was in poor repair in the late 15th century and it suffered storm damage in 1714. Work ordered in 1720-1 included the removal of the porch, but if this was done a new porch, apparently of chalk and brick, was subsequently put up. The church was also given a small brick tower, perhaps in the 17th or 18th century. The chancel was restored in 1831 and the south side of the have refaced with brick about the same period, the north side was refaced with cobbles a few years before 1892.

By the late 19th century the porch and tower and indeed the whole West End of the church, were ruinous and before 1897 both were demolished. The nave was restored during the last 20 years of the century, tiles replacing cobbles on the floor, box pews being removed and walls being renovated or perhaps rebuilt. By 1901 the porch had been rebuilt and the raising of a new tower had begun and by 1905 the tower was completed. The old chancel remained, but its brick floor was tiled in 1912. The tower retains a cobbled floor, either preserved or replaced.

There were two bells in the tower in 1552. Of the present bells, one is dated 1675 and was made by Samuel Smith, the elder, of York, and both were recast in 1908. The plate includes a silver-plated cup and pewter paten and a set given to the church in 1891. The registers begin in 1559 and are complete.

Reighton retained some dependence on the mother-church at Hunmanby and contributed towards its repair; for example, in 1662 burials at Reighton were subject to the payment of a skin-penny to the vicar of Hunmanby until at least the early 18th century. The payment was apparently made reluctantly in 1720 and may have ceased soon after this date. Reighton churchyard was extended in 1924.

Edited by David Hartley (c) 2024

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