St Mary the Virgin



The following is a transcript of a framed, calligraphed, description of the church which hangs in the nave. The date and author are unknown.
Link to Historic England listing for St Marys [link]

This small cruciform church follows the traditional architectural style of the thirteenth century, technically termed
“Early English” and is the most indigenous of all architectural styles in the Gothic period.

It was designed by the famous church architect Temple Moor. 
The foundation stone was laid in 1924 and the church was consecrated in 1926.


Characteristic of “Early English” are the lofty lancet windows of varying proportions arranged in groups of two or three and sometimes five, and the refined simple contour of the mouldings.

The feature is especially fitting in view of the Cistercian Nunnery which stood at Thorpe (Nunthorpe) at the beginning of the thirteenth century – site nearby Nunthorpe Hall.



The Chancel is planned with arcades; its small
south aislesuggests a chapel for daily use.


To the north are the vestries and the organ loft. The arches with their varied mouldings and the clerestory above give height and dignity to the Chancel, which indeed is the church proper. This is a somewhat unusual feature but the effect is uplifting.

The four main arches carrying the tower over the crossing are bold features of the interior and the method adopted to transfer the thrusts created (the arch never sleeps) to substantial abutments is worthy of study The scheme of the arches leading east from the transept to the choir aisles gives a great sense of solidarity and fascinating diagonal views of the altar are created from the transept. Here the harmony of the whole and the quality of scale can best be studied. It is the coursing and size of the stones adopted that largely give this quality.

Again the slight variation in the detail of the corbels carrying the western arch at the crossing should be noted. It is just such details that make our church interesting, being hand wrought in every particular without any of the standardisation of the machine-made product.


The deep arch over the 3 light North Transept window – delightfully out of centre - is another instance of design to give substance to the structure. This arch actually carries the stairway up to the tower – an ingenious camouflage.



Visitors should glance at the narrow little west window in the North Transept with its arched head, an exception in design, & eastward the “Vesica” shaped opening (to allow sound from the organ loft) which has an interesting traditional significance.


Built of Ayton stone and with all the roofs,
doors, seating and fittings of English oak.

The church stands as an example of the pure
English product – rare in these days




Its position with magnificent views from outside
its walls must be unsurpassed in Cleveland.


The Eight Bells in the Tower were installed to the memory of Sir Arthur and Lady Dorman and their eldest son, Mr Charles Dorman, whose liberality so largely contributed to the erection of the Church.


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