Heritage - St Mary's

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Originally services were probably held in the open, perhaps gathered around a stonecross. There is a base of a cross on the south side of the church which is said to be 9th century but a later date is more probable. Until the 14th century there was no church in Haxby so people had to travel to Strensall which had the nearest church for burials, this meant crossing the River Foss which flooded regularly. A burial ground in Haxby was dedicated on 17th June 1328.

 

In 1472 Haxby villagers presented a petition for their own priest. This must have been granted because in a survey of 1546 the incumbent was named as John Ive. However the right to control religious activities in Haxby remained with Strensall and remained so until the 19th century.

 

In the 16th century a church was built on the site of the present one. It became very dilapidated and was described as an "unsightly building, inconveniently arranged inside. In appearance it looked more like a large barn than a temple set apart for the service of Almighty God"

The old church of St Mary's Haxby

 

 

A fund for its restoration was set up, but in 1876 the church was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt in 1878 in the early Gothic style at an estimated cost of £1800. In 1911 the church tower was moved, the nave was extended to the west and a porch added

 

on the south side to accommodate the increased population. The dedication of the new parish church took place on 16th November 1911. In 1921 the choir vestry was added, other changes followed and the last major reordering of the church was in 1985.

 

 This last reordering involved altering the layout of the chancel and extending the chancel steps beyond the arch. The altar was moved from facing the reredos to facing the congregation. The choir stalls were moved from side facing in the nave to the chancel. A new altar, communion rail and seating for the clergy and servers were provided. The large pulpit was cut in two to provide a smaller pulpit and a matching lectern. Interior doors were added to the south entrance and a balcony was added to accommodate the large congregation worshipping at that time. A toilet, sacristy and porch were built by the north door. After the building work was finished, all the dark staining of the wood of the ceiling and the pews was stripped off and the present colours added. The organ was rebuilt in 1988.

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The roof covers the whole building with a break at the chancel. The main part of the building is the nave from the Latin word 'navis', a ship. The planking is indeed reminiscent of the bottom of a ship's hull.


   When the interior of the church was refurbished in 1988, the roof was made a striking feature of the church. Some of the features were highlighted in symbolic colours. The green of the chancel represents growth and healing, this is continued down the nave.

 

 

   The white and red ribs over the sanctuary recall the body and blood of Christ. The blue ribs are the colour of Mary from whom the church takes its name. The main supporting ribs are in black and white and remind us of the choices faced by humanity, light and darkness, belief and unbelief, life and death. The gold leaf remind us of Kingship- gold was presented to Jesus at his epiphany. Where gold is laid over black this is a sign that Jesus is Lord and the powers of darkness can never overcome his kingdom. The plain wood of the roof reminds us of Jesus? trade as a carpenter and his death on the cross.  

 

The kneelers were made in the mid to late seventies and were dedicated in 1981. Their varied designs and bright colours make an immediate and welcoming impression on all who enter our beautiful but simple church.

 

A hall was built in 1851 and was originally a village school suitable for 40 pupils, but it was only used for this purpose until 1876 when a larger school was built (which is now Haxby Memorial Hall). The hall then became a social hall and a Sunday School for the church.

 

In 1908 while work started on improvements to the church, Samuel Sutton, chairman of Flaxto  n District Council generously offered to double the Sunday School in size and the extended hall was officially opened on 16th November 1908 by the Lord Bishop of Beverley.

 

The hall has had several improvements in recent years, with major refurbishment in July 2003.

 

Quotation from "Old Coaching Days? by T Bradley 1889 .

 

‘In the lovely little village of Haxby, whose rustic simplicity breathes an unalloyed peace there stands a simple little church in a small and unpretending churchyard’

 

 

Registers now kept for us at the Borthwick Institute in York are as follows :

 

1. All entries 1691 to 1753

2. Marriages 1754 to 1811

3. Baptisms & Burials 1754 to 1801

4. Baptisms & Burials 1801 to 1812

 

For further information please contact our Parish Administrator