The little 900-year-old Church of Our Lady, tucked away behind Seaton Delaval Hall, was built by Hubert de Laval and dedicated in 1102 by Bishop Flambard, of Durham. It has only been a parish church since 1891, before that it was a private chapel for nearly 800 years.
St. Oswald’s church occupies an elevated position, at the top of Church Street. It is surrounded by a large burial ground, and commands a fine view of “the sunny gardens and houses of the Bailey on the opposite side, clustered at the feet of the reverend abbaye which rises proudly behind them.” A church was founded here before the Conquest, but the present structure cannot lay claim to so high an antiquity. The present church is principally of three dates, the earliest portion being the eastern part of the arcade formed by the pillars and arches of the nave, which were probably built about the year 1190, in the episcopate of Bishop Pudsey, a great patron of architecture. The alterations which were considered necessary, owing to the failure of its foundations by the workings of an old colliery, have destroyed many fine features, and deprived it of much of its ancient character. It consists of nave, aisles, chancel, and tower, the latter being in the Perpendicular style. There are sittings for 600, which were entirely new when the whole of the interior underwent restoration in 1883. The church was repewed at the time of the alterations, and the nave partially filled with seats.
The Church, which is dedicated to St. Thomas the Apostle, is an ancient structure, standing upon an elevated site on the north side of the town. It is principally of the Norman period, and simple in detail, its oldest portion being the lower stages of the tower. The restorations or additions, which have been effected from time to time, are of the Early English and Later Decorated styles. It consists of nave, aisles, chancel, south porch, and western tower. The chantry chapel at the east end of the south aisle, and dedicated to St. Mary, was probably added about 1225.
The church of St. Oswald at Sowerby is almost entirely modern, most of it having been rebuilt between 1840 and 1883, while the north aisle and vestry were added in 1902. That there was a building here in the 12th century is shown by the south doorway, which is a good example of the work of that period. The semicircular arch is of three orders, the inner one being moulded with rounds and hollows, the middle one enriched with beak heads, and the outer order with the chevron. The only other old work is the lower part of the tower, which is probably of 15th-century date.
From ‘Parishes: Thirsk’, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2, ed. William Page (London, 1923)
The church of St. Wilfrid consists of a chancel measuring internally 28 ft. 4 in. by 17 ft. 11 in., nave 44 ft. 1 in. by 17 ft. 7 in. and south porch. A small round-headed window in the south wall points to the 12th century origin of the fabric, but this window is the only detail remaining of the date. The earlier of the other windows date from about 1260, when the chancel was probably rebuilt. The porch is comparatively modern of the late 18th century. Over the roof at the west end is a plain wood bellturret with a pyramidal roof; it contains two bells.
There is a large amount of relatively modern carved furniture in the church, including a very large organ; much of the carving was done by the rector, the Rev. W. T. Kingsley, who held the living in 1859. The chancel arch has been rebuilt. The lower parts of the jambs are modern, the upper parts are old, and apparently the old bases of the semi-octagonal responds have been raised. The capitals are of a coarse section and probably of 15th-century date. The two-centred drop arch is of two chamfered orders.