About Us

St James' Bilbrough is one of five churches which make up the Parish of Marston Moor in the Deanery of New Ainsty, lying to the south west of York. The Deanery of New Ainsty consists of many villages as well as the market towns of Boston Spa and Tadcaster.

Please feel free to come and explore our village church. We are open every day for you to enjoy the quiet, pause a moment to reflect, or visit the  Fairfax chapel.

A warm welcome is extended to any who wish to attend our services, even if only at Christmas or for weddings, baptisms and funerals. We have a ramp for your buggy or wheelchair, we can open the double doors if you need us to, we can speak up if you are hard of hearing and we have large print copies of the hymn books if you struggle to read the small print. We can even offer bread and wine on occasions! 

The usual service pattern is Holy Communion at 9.00 am on the first and third Sundays of the month, with informal, lay-led services at 10.00 am on the second and fourth Sundays. Please click on the Services and Events tab for current services.

Our vicar is Rev'd Martin Otter, The Vicarage, Wetherby Road, Rufforth, YORK, YO23 3QF

01904 738460 or 07842 106044

Please contact the Churchwardens if there is anything we can help you with:

Peigi Macdonald 01937 835729

Glynis Ashford

The Church of St. James, Bilbrough, York

Bilbrough is about half a mile from the Roman road from York to Tadcaster. Roman remains have been found here. Being on a moraine about 150 feet above sea level, the village commands extensive views over the flat vale of York

The first church was probably Norman. A font, perhaps Norman, was taken out of the old church when it was rebuilt in 1873 and is in the garden of the Old Rectory. A picture of the first church shows a small church with a tower at the west end and entry to the church by a south door. The windows are Gothic. The Chapel is now all that remains of the ancient church. In 1873 the old church was pulled down and rebuilt. The new church was built in Norman style and seated 156 people. The old church seated only 76, which however was enough for a village of under 200 people.  

In the South Chapel there is the large l5th century tomb chest of John Norton, founder of the chapel, with shields and quatrefoils on the north side, and some co-eval panelling on the east side,

The other large tomb in the South Chapel is that of Thomas, Third Lord Fairfax of Cameron - ‘Black Tom’, who was born on 17th January 1612 at Denton Hall, near Otley. He was knighted by Charles I in York in January 1641. Fairfax became Commander in Chief of the Parliamentary Army and defeated Charles I at Naseby in June 1645. Fairfax married Anne, daughter of Lord Vere of Tilbury, who is commemorated with him in this tomb. He died at Nun Appleton Hall on 12 November 1671.

Apart from Black Tom, Bilbrough has gained fame from the poet Andrew Marvell. He was tutor to Mary, Black Tom’s daughter, for a few years and lived at Nun Appleton.

The three original bells of 1789 were hung with all new ringing fittings in a new steel frame fabricated locally in 1990 and with provision for another two bells. In 1999 two redundant bells bought by the Church were hung to complete the peal of five. The funds to pay for this were provided by the Millennium Bell Appeal which formed the final part of this project. The new bells were dedicated at a special service held on Sunday 14th November 1999 by the Right Reverend Humphrey Taylor, Bishop of Selby and were rung on 31st December 1999 to celebrate the Millennium, then joining in the New Year celebrations by being rung at midday on 1st January 2000 with all the church bells in Great Britain. 

Before you leave the church look at the east end. The chancel was re-ordered in January 1971. The medieval altar stone was taken from the chancel floor, under the old altar and incorporated into the present altar table. The reredos comes from Saint Sampson’s, a redundant York church. The altar table is both ancient and modern. It is ancient in that the medieval altar stone with the five consecration crosses (five for the five wounds of Christ) has been re-used.  It is also modern, made in 1970 to incorporate the old stone. 

So the altar table reminds us that while we can learn from the past, we need not be fettered by the past. The present age has rejected a good deal of the cant, hypocrisy, humbug, pomposity, of a former age. No doubt future ages will reject much that we prize. The Church always needs renewal of the Holy Spirit. Strong winds of change disturb and bewilder. But “Jesus Christ is the same  yesterday, today and for ever” (Hebrews, Ch. 13,v5). The Holy Table for the Lord’s own Service on the Lord’s own Day still stands as the place where Jesus is known in the Breaking of the Bread.  A modern Communion Service ends: “Go in peace” . . .  Take into the world what you have learnt in the House of God. 

These are the words of the late the Revd. Hugh Crawford a much loved priest in this Parish for many years in a guide he wrote for the centenary of the rebuilding of the Church in 1973 and on which this present updated version is based.

Places of Interest 

Ingrish Hill, site of beacon in Napoleonic wars (behind cemetery on Back Lane)

The Manor, built in 1901(Main Street)

Old Bilbrough Manor, (Main Street)

Bilbrough Grange, 18th century (Main Street)

The Three Hares and former Blacksmith’s shop

The cave alleged to have been used by Dick Turpin