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Askham Richard is a small rural village of approximately 70 houses built around a village green. The former manor house is now Askham Grange HMP and YOI. As a pretty village the residents are accustomed to welcoming visitors and are pleased to have visitors to view the church and attend the regular services.
St. Mary's Church, built in the latter half of the 12th century, consists of a single oblong comprising nave and chancel of the same width and height under one continuous roof, without any architectural division between them. It has a bell turret on the west gable rather than a tower.
The original church had a low roof, a stove in the middle of the church and box pews.
It was largely rebuilt in the 1870s but still retains its Norman doorway and the doorway of the vestry is of the same 12th century date, though it has been called “Saxon”. The “restoration” involved the rebuilding of the west wall three feet westwards, and extension to the nave on the north side, the repair of the chancel and the rebuilding of the east end from the window sill up.
The entire roof and floor were renewed. The new altar rails were made from the old oak from the roof and the oak from the pulpit and the pew beneath were preserved.
A Roman sarcophagus rests opposite the church porch. It is made of grit stone with the usual covering of the same material. Measured outside it is seven foot long, two wide and one foot nine inches in depth. It is of similar character to many found outside the city walls of York (Eboracum) and Tadcaster (Calcaria).
In the church is a stone believed to be the base of the village cross. The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal wrote: An impost with a dragon-snake not plaited, but undulating in strong curves, and continued round the edge of the stone. It is thought to be pre-conquest no doubt traceable to the dragons of the Anglo-Danish age.
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