A tiny church with ancient origins sitting in timeless melancholy at the edge of the East Coast Mainline.
Sitting in isolation on a knoll in rolling open countryside, is St Lawrence’s, Hutton Bonville. It closed in 2007 and has lain empty since then. A picture of timeless melancholy.
Despite being deeply rural, the pastoral peace is broken every so often when the East Coast Main Line thunders past. It’s often quite welcome – a relief to know that time hasn’t completely forgotten you out there.
St Lawrence’s is a small medieval church that was much altered in the 18th and 19th centuries. The story of this Yorkshire church is told in its stonework: the variety of colour, tooling, lichen, carving, joints … and of course, cracks.
In this location, the church really only makes sense in relation to Hutton Bonville Hall, which was demolished in 1962. The only physical neighbour this church now has are Hall’s two abandoned 18th-century gate piers, swathed in nettles and cow parsley.
The recorded owners of the Hall began in the 14th century with the Conyers,and from there to the Peirse and Hildyards families, both of whom have monuments in the church. At the time when St Lawrence was substantially rebuilt (with great sensitivity) in 1896, the then Sir H. Beresford Peirse closed his family vault that lies underneath but erected a tablet recording the seventeen burials there. These ranged from Henry Peirse, second son of Richard of Lazenby who dies in 1685 at the age of 21, to Marie who died in 1859 at the age of 74.
Other points of interest include the 17th-century communion rail, the scratch dial on the west elevation, and the simple font which is Norman in origin. A painted text of the 17th or 18th century invokes Micah Chapter 6, Verse 8 "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?".
Just one stained glass window survives. It’s found in the north aisle and is by the prolific practise of Wailes of Newcastle circa 1865. In the words of the Church Building Council, it uses "standard catalogue designs, angels with symbols of the Evangelists". Wailes' inventiveness was no doubt exhausted by the number of commissions it received.