Hovingham, like Barton-le-Street Church, is part of the Street group of churches. Just as Barton-le-Street was completely rebuilt by the Victorians but retained much of its Norman carving, so Hovingham was rebuilt in 1860 but retained its Saxon tower and some other important Saxon carvings. Both churches, by dint of their substantial rebuilding, are little regarded within the books on church architecture, but both warrant some attention by those less worried about “top 100s” or “best 1000s”! So I’ll try to redress the balance a bit!
There is little externally to betray Hovingham’s comparatively recent rebuilding. It looks like a fairly typical “muddled” church with parts from most of the Gothic period. The Saxon provenance of the tower is, however, immediately apparent.
It is believed that the tower dates from the last 25 years before the Conquest. It is clear that some of the tower’s masonry was reused from an even earlier church. Interestingly, the Church Guide refers to the nearby church of Kirkdale St Gregory’s which has a sundial (see footnote) proclaiming that the Saxon landowner, Orm, had rebuilt that church; and it is known that he did so between 1055 and 1065. This is seen as evidence that Orm probably also commissioned Hovingham’s rebuilding in the same period.
There are three known fragments from the early church: an c8 “Anglian” cross over the west door; the c9 “Annunciation Stone” in the Lady Chapel; and a c10 “Wheel” cross on the south side of the tower. Within