A Short History of St Matthew’s Church

The village of Hotune is mentioned in the Domesday Book and in Norman times was owned by the Buscel family. For details concerning Village History please see the separate leaflet entitled: ‘Leading Families and Lords of the Manor of Hutton Buscel’.

There are two approaches to the church: one, which used to be the main entrance, is by Church Lane through the Iychgate, designed by Basil Champneys (1843-1935) and given by Thomas Gurney Little (vicar 1873-1917) in memory of his first wife Hannah (d.1890).  This was restored in 2002. The second entrance, termed Vicar’s Walk, is the one now in common use but was only made available to the public in Late Victorian times.  Prior to this it was used solely by the Vicar and the lay Rector as it crossed the grounds of the old Hall.

Norman Tower

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The extreme plainness without buttresses or windows below the belfry stage, combined with the remarkable way it batters inwards from its wide base with walls four-and-half feet thick, give an impression of simplicity and strength. The lower part of the tower belongs to the early church that had been built by the Buscel family and granted to Whitby Abbey in 1127. Reginald Buscel had married Alice, niece of William de Percy, the first of the Norman Abbots. The high Norman windows indicate its original height; the corbels and embattled parapet were added c.1460 during a period of repair to the chancel and building of the south aisle. Surmounting the tower is a cockerel weather vane, believed to have been once on York Minster and presented to the church by Bishop Osbaldeston who was Dean of York 1727-47. This was regilded in 2000 as part of a millennium project, the cockerel symbolising a new dawn.


In the small bellcote above the chancel arch on the apex of the roof of the nave, there hangs a sanctus bell to be rung at the consecration in the Holy Communion service. Given in memory of Elsie Hepworth (d.1964), it replaces one removed probably in the 16th century.         .

South Porch

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Above the porch door is a canopied niche with an effigy of St Matthew the Evangelist (his attribute being a winged beast with the face of a man), carved by Alan Durst in memory of Vi Armitage, a generous benefactor (d.1967). The sundial which was moved from the niche to the wall of the tower, has the inscription TIME WASTED IS EXISTENCE, USED IS LIFE 1826.

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On the jambs of the porch door there are grooves in the stones made by archers when sharpening arrows for bow and arrow practice (using churchyard yew). Several stones with Norman designs can be found set in the walls of the porch.


The oldest part of the church internally is the 13th century set of pillars on the north side of the nave. The rest is 15th century and followed an order for repair of the chancel in 1458. In 1853 much of the church was again rebuilt by William Dawnay, the 7th Viscount Downe, to the design of William Butterfield. This included the north aisle, the sanctuary and the exceptionally high-pitched roof.

The rood, a beam across the chancel arch carrying the figures of Christ, the Virgin Mary and St John, was removed in the 16th century when Emma, widow of Ralph Clayton (d.1554) priest of Hutton Buscel, was accused of retaining the hand bell and ‘a great barr of iron which dyd stand under as a stay and upholde the Rode’.

There are many memorial gifts: the oak door to the tower and screen above commemorate Mr Little; the oak table at the back of the nave, Jack Butterfield (1964); the wooden processional cross, Constance Armitage (1946) and the brass processional cross in use now, James Jewitt (2008); the stand for a paschal candle, Doris Snaldon (1996) and the bookcase by the north door, Leonard Day (2003). Pew bibles were given by parishioners in 1964/66. The prayer books were given in 1933/34 and supplemented later by more in memory of Henry Fowler. English Hymnals commemorate Hilda and Sidney Dix (1988), and The Common Worship books (1998) and The Complete Anglican Hymn Books (2012) commemorate Rene Robertson, Peter and Peggy Gedge.

Pulpit & Lectern

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The beautifully carved oak Jacobean pulpit has been cleaned of its many coats of paint in memory of Norman Hick (d.1950) and is shown off to its full advantage. The sconces that support the candles were made from oak and molten bell metal rescued from York Minster after the disastrous fire there of 1840. The brass eagle lectern was given in 1905 in memory of Thomas Joseph and Jane Candler of Low Hall, West Ayton. It stands on a wooden plinth given in memory of James Vesey-Roome (vicar 1938-1955).

Lady Chapel

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The altar is the 17th century wooden Communion. Table and was moved at the time of the 1853 restoration. On it stands a crucifix made in 1909 from an oak beam of Folkton church, and two candlesticks that had been turned in 1985 by Fred Calvert (d.1987) from the old churchyard gate posts. He also turned, in 1980, two wooden alms dishes. The chapel was furnished in memory of Henrietta Stanton (Mr. Little’s step-daughter, d.1928).

The oil painting, Madonna and Child after Murillo, is in memory of Catherine Stapleton (d.l951).


The Choir Stalls made by ‘mouse-man’ Thompson of Kilburn, are in memory of William Lawson-Smith (vicar 1932-1938): on the left stall are the arms of Whitby Abbey, depicting three ammonites; on the right are the crossed keys of St Peter beneath a crown, for the see of York. The Early Victorian organ, with Swell added by William Denman of York in 1894, was completely restored in     2005 by John Clough of Bradford.

South Aisle

This aisle and porch were added by the Abbot of Whitby c.1460. The ‘mouse-man’ Litany Desk is in memory of Lewis Drakeford-Lewis (vicar 1917-1932). There is also a ‘mouse-man’ table. The brass memorial records the two Barber brothers killed in the Great War; adjacent is a war memorial from the Methodist chapel, transferred in 2005. The East and West Ayton British Legion standards were deposited with the church at the closure of that branch in 1987.


The carved oak Reredos was erected by parishioners in memory of Canon Thomas Hutton Croft, who held the living 1826-1873. The brass cross on the high altar was given in memory of Alice Schofield (d.200l). In the floor of the Sanctuary may be seen on the Minton tiles, the Downe Coat of Arms alternating with coronetted ‘D’s as part of the Butterfield design in restoration. There are two finely carved 18th century chairs and two 19th century chairs of an earlier style: one a ‘Glastonbury’, the other is in memory of John Guthrie (d.1990). The rich carpeting was given by Peter Jaram (vicar 2001-2005).


The two chief monuments are at the east end of the church; both block up doorways! Bishop Osbaldeston’s on the north blocks an entrance to the vestry, his wife’s on the south, a doorway into the churchyard. The Bishop’s monument is by James Lovell (protégé of Horace Walpole and well known for ornamental fireplace design); it records his life and that of his second wife Lucy Digby (d.1783). The arms beneath the mitre are of the see of London (gules two swords in saltire argent pomelled or). He was Dean of York 1727, Bishop of Carlisle 1747, Bishop of London 1762 and he died in 1764. He held the bible on which King George Ill took his coronation oath in 1760. He had married the heiress Elizabeth Farside in 1733 and moved into The Hall that had been built by her father, becoming in 1739, Lord of the Manor. Clergy from the Carlisle diocese were ordained here in 1760 and 1761. At York he supervised the laying of the great pavement designed by Lord Burlington and William Kent for the floor of the Minster. In London he successfully opposed the placing of monuments in his Cathedral of St Paul, as he believed this to be contrary to the wishes of Sir Christopher Wren.

The monument to Elizabeth Osbaldeston (d.1748), was erected by the Bishop and describes her many virtues ‘ … her whole conduct was a scene of humility and meekness which justly recommended her to the regard and love of all that knew her’. The arms are of the see of Carlisle (argent on a cross sable a mitre labelled or) impaling Osbaldeston (argent a mascle sable between three pellets) with Farside (gules a fess or between three bezants) in escutcheon of pretence. The Osbaldeston family finally sold their estates in Hutton Buscel in 1839, to the Honourable Marmaduke Dawnay Langley who had inherited the Wykeham estates in 1817. He rebuilt many houses along the village street, but died in 1851.

Other monuments are in the south aisle to the memory of Hannah Wright (d.1787) and in the tower to Huntriss Pierson (d.1796) and to Thomas (d.1805) and Elizabeth (d.1832) Storr Pearson.


The font by the south door dates from the Victorian restoration. Inside is a portable stone font, which has been in use for at least 250 years. A bishop’s mitre surmounts the cover suggesting that it belonged to Bishop Osbaldeston.

Stained Glass

The windows are fair examples of Victorian workmanship: the East has the crucifixion and is in memory of Hannah Little; the Sanctuary has Elizabeth, Zachariah & Anna in memory of Robert Croft, Canon Residentary of York Minster (d.1831), Elizabeth his wife (d.1841) and Ann their daughter (d.l852); the Chancel has Christ healing a blind man with Tabitha & Zacheus and is in memory of George Smart, the surgeon and philanthropist (d.1855) who had himself become blind, his wife and his son; the South Aisle has Christ’s blessing of children in memory of Elizabeth Monkman the ‘faithful nurse and companion in sickness of many ladies’ (d.1875), and which may be compared with a similar theme in the North Aisle in memory of John Cass Smart (d.1894).

The Bells

There are three bells, two of which were recast by John Taylor of Loughborough after they were damaged when lightning struck the tower in1902. Inscriptions have been reproduced: treble, NIL DESPERANDUM CHRISTO DUCE 1639; tenor, GOD SAVE HIS CHURCH ROBERT PORTER GENT & CR MUNCASTER CRC TE. The third is original and dates from the late 14th century. On it is inscribed IHC CAMPANA SANCTI MATTHAEI SYR THOMAS DE DRUFELD PARSON ME FECIT. Thomas Scott of Driffield was rector 1375-1393; his will was proved in York in 1429.

Communion Plate

The church possesses early 18th century plate of the Britannia standard (a higher silver content than the sterling standard): a Queen Anne Paten on a conical foot, London 1701/02 by Seth Lofthouse; a pair of George I Flagons, one London 1714/15 by Seth Lofthouse, the other by William Fawdery; and a George I Alms Dish, London 1716/17 by Seth Lofthouse, wt 36oz. Other plate is modern. The wafer box is in memory of Jamie Vesey Roome (d.1948 aged 3). The glass cruets are in memory of Eileen Butterfield (d.2002). A ciborium for giving communion to the sick is in memory of Hilda Gibson ,( d.1982): it is locked in an aumbry behind a tiny curtain in the Lady Chapel. Of considerable importance is the Steeple Cup, London 1611/12 by John Evans, pictured at the back of the church and now on display at Scarborough Town Hall: for details of provenance see the leaflet ‘Leading Families and Lords of the Manor of Hutton Buscel’.

A Hutton Buscel Saint

Thomas Welbourne, a schoolmaster who was born in the village, was hung, drawn and quartered at York on 1st August 1605 for ‘persuading to popery’. 324 years later he was beatified by Pope Pius XII, on 15th December 1929.

This was written by Edward Stapleton c.1960, revised in 1971 by Henry Stapleton in his memory, and again in 2005 by Piers Percival, in association with Mary Gibson, Mr E Stapleton’s daughter.   

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