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Early history

The first Christian converts were baptised in the River Derwent in 627 AD by St Paulinus, one of the second batch of Roman missionary monks sent by Pope Gregory to convert Britain.

Norton’s first place of worship was sited on the river bank near to the baptism place – where it is still possible to ford the Derwent – and dedicated to St Nicholas, often invoked as patron saint of fords and bridges.

Today it is difficult to find much trace of the ancient church. A medieval building was replaced by a Georgian one in 1816 and this in turn was demolished in 1900. Anyone visiting the local swimming baths can see the foundation platform of the old church when they look to the right when crossing the pseudo-bridge at the entrance of the building. There is still a St Nicholas Street in the parish and the short road near the baths is still Church Street.

The foundation stone (behind the pulpit) for present day St Peters was laid on 16th October 1889 by Archbishop Thompson. The church was dedicated on St Peter’s Eve 28th June 1894. The new dedication came about because the Archbishop was the patron and he felt at least one of the four churches in either town should be dedicated to an Apostle.

The stone font

This is a massive and impressive piece, probably 12th century, but because of some damage is mounted on a modern base. It is known to be the font of the medieval church, thrown out in 1814 but kept by someone as a garden ornament. It was returned to St Peters in 1894.

The organ

This is a three manual Harrison & Harrison. In 1911 the instrument was lifted up to the present organ loft, an electric blower was installed in 1942. It was renovated in 1987 and rededicated by Bishop Wimbush in September 1988.


In the Tower are 8 bells – six installed in 1926-1928 and two in 1946. They are reckoned to be among the best peals in the country and the enthusiastic and knowledgeable come from far and wide to ring them.

The memorial chapel

Norton is unusual in that it has no war memorial and all plaques of names are in this chapel. So on Remembrance Sunday, the poppy wreaths are laid here where those involved in the South African and two World Wars are commemorated. Known to many as the Lady Chapel, it is where weekday Holy Communion services take place and here anyone can come for private prayer. The lovely atmosphere is enhanced by the beautiful windows by C E Kempe.


The East window, again by Kempe and unusual in that it is a memorial to those involved in the Boer War. The donor’s son was killed at Ladysmith.

The tiny window on the South side of the Sanctuary ( Kempe again) is in memory of two young men of the Black Watch killed in Turkey in 1916 and 1917 respectively. Their brother was vicar of St Peters and could glance up at the window from the altar as he celebrated the Eucharist. The priest was our most famous vicar ( so far) The Rev A C Don

The West window is a World War 1 memorial, dedicated on 11th November 1921 and paid for by public subscription. The four British patron saints symbolise 1 Spiritual Victory, St Patrick 2 National Victory, St George. 3 Plenty, St Andrew. 4 Peace and Unity, St David.


Church House

This was built in 1937 and requisitioned by Northern Army Command a year later. Church House became the Officer’s Mess, church huts became the Quartermaster’s stores, and Nissen huts were built in the grounds. The bases of the huts can just about be seen today. After the war Church House was renovated and permanent electric lighting installed in 1948.

Rev Christopher Chapman was the vicar whose vigour and vision got the new church of St Peters built to half way down the nave and into use, all in less than 5 years. Sadly his death in 1906 at only 59 meant that he never saw his church completed. It is fitting that the window at the pulpit end of the north aisle is dedicated to him.

 Rev Alan Campbell DON.KCVO. Born in Dundee, studied for ordination at Cuddesdon College before becoming a curate at Redcar 1917. He then became vicar of St Peters later that year until 1921. There then followed a 10 year period as Provost of St Paul’s Cathedral in his native city of Dundee. From 1931 – 1941 he was secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Gordon Lang and became a chaplain to King George V. In 1941 he became a canon of Westminster Abbey as rector of St Margaret’s Westminster, the parish church of the Houses of Parliament. This was followed in 1946 by elevation to the post of Dean of Westminster, a post he held for 13 years, a period which included Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. He died on 3rd May 1966. The Book of Remembrance in the Memorial Chapel was presented to the church by him.



1389. Nicholas Malton

1525. John Walker

1552. James Smyth

1590. Thomas Harrison

1609. Richard Sheriff

1622. John Ruccock

1659. R Hague

1663. Martin Penston

1673. Samuel Kidd

1674. John Cartwright

1698. Francis Alderton

1708. Robert Artinstall

1727. Robert Maunsell

1744. Stephen Clark

1748. Geoffrey Walmaley

1773. John Cleaver

1783. Henry Robinson

1784. Ralph Tunstall

1805. William Johnston

1807. John Richardson

1834. Edmund Day

1874. Frederick Edmund Sadgrove

1876. Edward Robinson

1881. Christopher Jackson Chapman

1907. Wm Joseph Mundy Coombs

1917. Alan Campbell Don

1921. Harold Merryweather

1932. George Wilfred McLane

1942. H Bursey

1946. Jack Fisher

1962. Leonard Stanley Rivett

1974. Dennis Bradley Cooper

1994. William Clifford Hedley

1998. Bill Ankers

2011. Rachel Hirst

English Heritage Building ID: 329716

Grade II Listed building

Description: Church of St Peter

Date Listed: 4 May 1967

OS Grid Reference: SE7942771029

OS Grid Coordinates: 479427, 471029

Latitude/Longitude: 54.1290, -0.7860

Location: Langton Road, Norton, North Yorkshire

Locality: Norton-on-Derwent

Local Authority: Ryedale District Council

County: North Yorkshire

Country: England

Postcode: YO17 9AD

Listing Text (Source: English Heritage)

1889-91. By C Hodgson Fowler.

Chiselled sandstone with sandstone ashlar dressings; slate roof.

West tower; 6-bay, aisled nave and clerestory; south porch; chancel, vestry, organ chamber and south chapel.

4-stage buttressed tower on plinth has west door beneath pointed head-stopped hood-mould.

4-light window with reticulated tracery and chamfered sill above with a stopped ogee-arched hood-mould.

Bracketed ledge to third stage with statue of St Peter beneath crocketed canopy.

2-light mullion and transom bell openings beneath crocketed ogee arches to each face, over corbelled chamfered band.

Corbel table beneath embattled parapet with crocketed pinnacles and waterspouts.

Opening to gabled south porch is a 2- centred arch on half octagonal shafts with a continuous hood-mould forming an impost band.

Triple-arched niche over.

 Pointed doors with long foliate wrought-iron hinges.

Buttressed nave has 2-light windows with reticulated tracery beneath pointed hood-moulds. Continuous sill band.

Clerestory windows are similar, of 3 lights.

Tall west window of 5 lights with reticulated tracery and chamfered sill band.

Coped gables and gable crosses to nave, chancel and porch.

Interior: tall quoined tower arch of 3 chamfered orders.

Pointed arcade of 2 chamfered orders on octagonal piers.

Chancel arch of 2 orders springing from responds with attached shafts.

Cll square font with blind arcading on a cylindrical pedestal with roll moulded foot.

Pulpit and tester by W Brierley. Stained glass window by Kempe.