Sources for St Mary’s Church, Studley Royal

These lists include the main sources, both published and unpublished, for our current knowledge and understanding of St Mary’s Church.

Primary Sources (Unpublished)

Parish Records

The historic church for the chapelry of Aldfield cum Studley, in which St Mary’s, Studley Royal, is sited, is St Lawrence, Aldfield, a 14th-century foundation rebuilt in the 1780s. In 1878 St Mary’s superseded it as the parish church, but in 1969 St Lawrence’s resumed its former role and in 1970 St Mary’s was declared redundant. The records for the parish, including registers, are in the North Yorkshire County Record Office at Northallerton (PR/ALF). The papers relating to St Mary’s, which cover the period from 1877 to 1973 and include licences and faculties, are catalogued under PR/ALF/6.

The Building

There are references to St Mary’s, Studley Royal, in all the three significant manuscript sources for a study of William Burges’s career:

  • A manuscript estimate book kept by Burges for the period 12 August 1875 to 30 March 1881. National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 86.SS.52
  • An abstract of Burges’s diaries. The original is not publicly accessible, but there is a photocopy in the National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, 69.J.37
  • A series of 65 unindexed sketchbooks and notebooks kept by Burges between 1848 and 1881 and now owned by the Royal Institute of British Architects, London. They can be consulted by appointment in the study room of the RIBA Drawings Collection, housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

There is correspondence between Burges and Lord Ripon in the Ripon papers in the British Library, London:

  • BL Add MS 43623, correspondence, vol CXXXIII, fols 43, 110.

Primary Sources (Published)

‘New church of St Mary, at Studley: Mr W Burges, architect’, The British Architect, 10 (27 Sept 1878), 130 [a description of the church]

Pullan, RP, The Architectural Designs of William Burges, 2 vols (London, 1883 and 1887) [a collection of Burges’s designs selected by his brother-in-law]

Walbran, JR, A Guide to Ripon, Fountains Abbey ..., 11th edn (Ripon, 1874), 137–40

One of the chairs used in the nave of St Marys, Studley Royal, before benches were installed
One of the chairs used in the nave of St Mary’s before benches were installed in about 1913. The chair is currently in the church vestry © David Thornton

Material Sources

English Heritage Collections

The collections from St Mary’s, Studley Royal, comprise accessioned fixtures and fittings, furniture and church books as well as related archives.

The furniture includes one of the original chapel-style chairs used in the nave before benches were installed in about 1913.

The church books include a number of 19th-century bibles, almanacs, and communion and services books, some with Vyner and Robinson family heraldry on the bindings. There is also a cloth- and leather-bound preacher’s book with entries of services held at the church from 1877 to 1900. These are held off site at Helmsley Archaeology Store.

The site archive held at Helmsley Archaeology Store includes photographs, records of site recording and conservation work, and unpublished research into the architecture, history and site collections (see below).

Victoria and Albert Museum

The Studley Bowl (M.1:1, 2-1914), dating from c 1400, is one of the earliest and finest pieces of English domestic silver in existence. It was once owned by St Lawrence’s Church, Aldfield cum Studley, near Ripon, and was for a time the property of St Mary’s, Studley Royal. It was sold in 1913 amid local, regional and national controversy in order to enhance the benefice income, to help fund future repairs, and to enable immediate work at St Mary’s and St Lawrence’s to be undertaken.

Visual Sources

Burges and his collaborators must have produced many drawings for the church, but, apart from those contained in his notebooks in the RIBA Drawings Collection (see above), none are known to survive. However, several were reproduced in RP Pullan’s The Architectural Designs of William Burges (see above).

Axel Haig, Interior view of the chancel, St Mary, Studley Royal, looking east, watercolour, c 1872, RIBA Drawings Collection, SB133/BURG [19] [impressive perspective painted for Burges for exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1872].

Historic England Archive

Items in the Historic England Archive at Swindon relating to St Mary’s, Studley Royal, include:

  • photographs detailing the restoration of the wall-paintings in June 2011 (2K/14526)
  • an album of photographs and other printed material (postcards, engravings and prints) relating mainly to Fountains Abbey, but including several pages of mostly late 19th- and early 20th-century views of St Mary’s Church (AL0129)
  • an album of 35 black-and-white photographs showing general interior and exterior views of the church, taken in 1975 (AL0929).

More details of these and many other items can be found in the online catalogue. Some material is not yet listed in the online catalogue, including a large collection of aerial photography; for a full search, please contact the search team.

Copies of images and documents can be ordered through the website or by contacting the archive. For details of current charges for these services see the archives price list.

Secondary Sources (Published)

William Burges is mentioned in virtually every history of 19th-century architecture in Britain, and St Mary’s, Studley Royal, is described and illustrated in most books on the Victorian Gothic revival. The following list includes only works that incorporate original research.

William Burges and St Mary’s, Studley Royal

Crook, J Mordaunt, William Burges and the High Victorian Dream, 2nd edn (London, 2013; 1st edn 1981), 201–16 [this is the standard biography of Burges, and contains a summary list of his works]

Crook, J Mordaunt (ed), The Strange Genius of William Burges, ‘Art-Architect’, 1827–1881 (Cardiff, 1981), 102 [exhibition catalogue, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London]

Crook, J Mordaunt, The Church of Christ the Consoler, Skelton-cum-Newby, North Yorkshire (London, 2004) [This guidebook, published by the Churches Conservation Trust, which has owned Christ the Consoler since 1991, is the fullest modern description of St Mary’s ‘sister’ church]

Crook, J Mordaunt, ‘Burges, William (1827–1881)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004) [online edn, revised May 2006; subscription required; accessed 29 Nov 2012]

Eastlake, CL, A History of the Gothic Revival (London, 1872), 353–7 (reprinted by Leicester University Press in 1978 with an introduction and notes by J Mordaunt Crook) [A perceptive account of Burges’s career to date by a well-informed contemporary; remains an essential history of the development of Gothic up to 1870. Accessed 12 April 2013]

Handley-Read, C, ‘William Burges’, in Victorian Architecture, ed P Ferriday (London, 1963), 185–220 [an incisive essay by the first modern scholar to work on Burges]

Hawkes, J, ‘Superabundance and disorder: Ruskin’s “Two Great Evils” and the Church of St Mary, Studley Royal’, in Rethinking the Interior, c 1867–1896: Aestheticism and the Arts and Crafts, ed J Edwards and I Hart (London, 2010), 41–6

Leach, P, St Mary’s Church, Studley Royal (Department of the Environment guidebook, London, 1981) [the most detailed published description of the church, with a useful bibliography]

Leach, P and Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire West Riding, Leeds, Bradford and the North (New Haven and London, 2009), 723–4

The Patrons

Denholm, A, Lord Ripon 1827–1909: A Political Biography (London, 1982)

Denholm, AF, ‘George Frederick Samuel Robinson, first Marquess of Ripon (1827–1909)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004) [Includes a full list of the sources for Lord Ripon’s biography. Subscription required; accessed 29 Nov 2012]

Wolf, L, The Life of the First Marquess of Ripon, 2 vols (London, 1921)

There are two detailed modern accounts of the incident that led to Frederick Vyner's death:

Jenkins, R, The Dilessi Murders (London, 1961; repr 1998)

Stevens, C, Ransom and Murder in Greece: Lord Muncaster’s Journal in 1870 (Cambridge, 1989) [incorporates a transcript of the diary kept by Lord Muncaster, who was also kidnapped, but survived]

Artists and Craftsmen

Burges’s principal collaborators at St Mary’s are briefly but illuminatingly discussed within a wide context in two standard works:

Harrison, M,Victorian Stained Glass (London, 1980), 54–5 and plate 23 [on WG Saunders, Fred Weekes and HW Lonsdale]

Read, B, Victorian Sculpture (London and New Haven, 1982), 263–5 [on Thomas Nicholls]

Lawrence, D and Wilson, A, The Cathedral of Saint Fin Barre at Cork: William Burges in Ireland (Dublin, 2006) [The craftsmen who worked on St Mary’s were also employed by Burges for his cathedral at Cork, and this detailed monograph illuminates the collaborative process behind all Burges’s buildings]

Secondary Sources (Unpublished)

Calpin, K, ‘Thomas Nicholls (1825–1896): Victorian sculptor’, unpublished MA dissertation (Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies, University of York, 1996)

Davies, J and Manning, T, ‘Wall painting condition audit, St Mary’s, Studley Royal, North Yorkshire’, unpublished report, AML Reports (new series) 40/1997 (English Heritage, 1997)

Simpson and Brown Architects, ‘St Mary’s Church, Studley Royal: conservation plan’, 3 vols (English Heritage, 2001)

Several unpublished reports are held in the site archive at English Heritage’s Helmsley Archaeology Store, including:

Mitchell, M and Thornton, D, ‘The building and decorative stones’ (2005)

Thornton, D, ‘A handlist of the decorative features and furnishings of St Mary’ (2004)[1]


1. I am grateful to David S Thornton for his corrections and improvements to a draft of these pages. 

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