This week’s church: St Gregory’s Minster, Kirkdale

I’ve been working on a bit about the beautiful little church of St Gregory’s Minster in Kirkdale, N. Yorkshire.

Situated at the bottom of a valley, with a beck running around the churchyard, this building dates from around 1060. We know that, because the man who rebuilt it, Orm Gamalson, had a sundial made which you can still see in the porch.

The inscription is in Old English and reads: ‘Orm Gamal’s son bought St. Gregory’s minster when it was all broken down and ruined, and he had it built anew from the ground for Christ and St. Gregory in the days of King Edward and of Earl Tostig.’

Above the dial it says, ‘This is the day’s sun-marker at every time.’ And directly below is the maker’s name: ‘Hawarth made me and Brand, priests.’

This is the original west door of the church.

The piece I’ve been trying to write is not just about the sundial, but also about time itself: how the Christian worldview shaped our view of time as a linear progression. And also how time changes all of us. At one time the Vikings probably destroyed this place. But here you have Orm Gamalson, a man of Viking descent, rebuilding the church, and leaving an inscription, not in runes, but in English. People change. Just give it time.

Nick Page @nickpage