St Laurence's churchChurch Layout

History - The North Chapel (The lady Chapel)


This chapel, built in the early 13th century, originally may have been a chantry chapel dedicated to St. Catherine.

An entry in a survey of chantries in the county of York (1546) reads: "The Chantry of St. Katherine in the parish of Athewyke by the Street Peter Skott ... of the foundation of Richard Cusworth ... to pray for the soule of the founder and all Christen Soules, and to do divine service in the quere."

The building of the chapel necessitated the removal of the north wall of the chancel which was replaced by a two-bay arcade with pointed arches meeting on a pier of four cylindrical columns surmounted by a quatrefoil abacus.

Arch between chancel and chapel with quatrefoil abacus

The columns and wall responds of the arches still bear marks of infilling of sockets where once were mounted wooden screens removed at the Reformation when chantries were dissolved.

The distinct lean of the pier between the arches may be related to the near collapse of this area of the church in the 16th century.

The two lancet windows of the east and north walls are original, as is the oculus window matching that of the chancel. The stained glass inserted in the East windows in 1943 depicting the life of St. Francis was designed by J. E. Nuttgens.

Of special interest in the chapel are the three altar tombs of mid-15th to 16th century; the one under the eastern arch between the chapel and chancel deserves particular attention. This incised alabaster slab is a memorial to James Washington (d. 1580), his wife Margaret and their children. Cut into the slab is the figure of a gentleman dressed in Elizabethan fashion with the arms of the Washington family inscribed upon the breast. The figure representing his wife is outlined beside him and she displays the coat of arms of the Anlaby family. The site of the Elizabethan mansion, home to the Washingtons and dismantled in 1864, lay across the road from the church where now is the bowling green.

Washington tomb - James and Margaret

The stars and stripes of the Washington family coat of arms on the slab and repeated on the tomb sides were to be seen here long before they became the familiar feature of the flag of the United States of America. When first installed the tomb would have presented a very colourful sight with all the coats of arms brightly picked out in colour. For a more detailed account of the Washingtons of Adwick see The Washingtons.

Washington tomb - coats of arms

A tomb placed to the right of the altar and dated 1470 is a memorial to John Fitz-William and Amicia his wife. The centre of the stone slab has the following inscription: "Sic testes, Christe, quod non jacet lapis iste, Corpus ut ornetur, sed spiritus ut memoretur." (Witness, O Christ, it is not a stone which is here to honour the body, but that a soul may be remembered.)

The tomb of John and Amicia Fitz-William

The remaining tomb of 1590 is a memorial to Leonard Wray and his wife Ursula whose family seat was at Cusworth. There are other memorial stones in the floor of the chapel and on the north wall.