(This updated copy published with the kind permission of his daughter Phyllis Benedikz.)
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The beginnings of Christianity in what is now Yorkshire but was once the Anglian kingdom of Deira (from time to time joined with its northern neighbour Bernicia to form Northumbria) may be traced back as far-as AD. 314, when a bishop of York is mentioned as being present at the Council of Arles. After the Saxon invasions of Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries the flame of faith in the north was rekindled when Edwin, king of Northumbria, married the Christian Ethelburga of Kent, and one of Augustine's fellow-missionaries, Paulinus, was consecrated bishop of York. This was in 625, twenty-eight years after Augustine had established the English church at Canterbury. It was Paulinus of whom Bede wrote: '….he baptised in the river Swale, which runs by the village of Cataract (Catterick)' - the earliest specific reference to Christianity in the neighbourhood of Gilling (The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation (1910)).

When Edwin was defeated in 633 Paulinus escaped to Kent, taking with him Edwin's widow and her daughter Eanfleda. A year later Oswald, Edwin's nephew, routed the pagan British at Heavenfield, near Hexham, and the northern kingdom was again brought under Christian rule. Oswald had been converted by the monks of Iona, and it was in response to an appeal from him that Aidan was sent to be bishop of Lindisfarne, 'to preach to the Northumbrians'. But when Oswald himself was killed, in 642, his realm was divided. Oswi, his younger brother and husband of Eanfleda, succeeded in Bernicia, while Deira acknowledged Oswin. Nine years later Oswi laid claim to the whole of Northumbria, and a battle was imminent; but Oswin, seeing the strength of Oswi's forces, dismissed his men 'at the place which is called Wilfaresdun, that is, Wilfar's Hill, which is almost ten miles distant from the village called Cataract, towards the north-west'. He concealed himself in the house of a supposed friend, but was betrayed and then murdered on Oswi's orders. This happened, Bede continues, on August 20th, 651, 'at a place called Ingethlingum, where afterwards a monastery was built'. Oswi granted the monastery site in response to Eanfleda's entreaty and 'in satisfaction for Oswin's unjust death'.

Where was Ingethlingum? Geographical and etymological consideration led T.D.Whitaker (History of Richmondshire (1823)) and earlier historians to accept Gilling as the scene of Oswin's death and the site of the monastery. But in 1870 D. H. Haigh published a paper, The Runic Monuments of Northumbria, in which he argued that the more likely location was Collingham, near Wetherby. His view was based on his interpretation of some very indistinct runic markings on a monumental stone that had been disinterred near the foundations of Collingham church in 1841. Haigh first saw the stone in 1855 when, he said, 'I read quite plainly…..the name Auswini', and there were faint traces of other words. Returning in 1870 he found the marks 'not nearly as plain'; nevertheless with the aid of casts and photographs he attempted a restoration of the whole inscription, as follows: 'Aeonblaed this set / After (her) cousin / After Oswini (the) king / Pray for the soul'. The name Aeonblaed he took to be an earlier form of Eanfleda. In spite of the highly speculative nature of Haigh's work, his paper led writers such as Harry Speight (Romantic Richmondshire (1897), Edmund Bogg (Richmondshire (1908)), and even the compilers of the Victoria History of the North Riding (1914), to abandon the belief that Bede's reference was to Gilling. But in 1915 W.G.Collingwood, a considerable authority on Anglo-Danish monuments, categorically rejected the Collingham theory. 'It is certain', he said, 'that the name on the stone is not Oswini, and it is evident that the date of the design is much later than the seventh century'. This opinion received powerful support from T.D. Kendrick, Keeper of British Antiquities in the British Museum, in his book Anglo-Saxon Art (1938), where he cites the Collingham stone as a particularly good example of 9th century work. Nikolaus Pevsner (Yorkshire - The West Riding (1967)) concurs, and it being manifestly impossible for a 7th century queen to have set up a 9th century stone, we may well agree with Ekwall (English Place Names, 1959 edn.) when he writes: 'With Gilling near Richmond is usually and no doubt correctly identified Ingethlingum'.

Bede tells us that the first abbot of the monastery at Ingethlingum was Trumhere, a Northumbrian priest who in 659 was made bishop of the Mercians. One of Bede's sources for his Lives of the Holy Abbots was a work known as The Anonymous Life of Ceolfrith, Abbot of Jarrow, which had been written after Ceolfrith's death. Although the author is unknown his text survives, and a single sentence throws light on Gilling history: 'When he Ceolfrith had almost reached the eighteenth year of his age he entered the monastery situated in the place which is called Ingethlingum….which his brother Cynefrith... had ruled... but had committed shortly before to the rule of his kinsman Tunberht'. Ceolfrith, according to Bede, died in 716 at the age of 74, which sets the year of his arrival in Gilling at 660. We may thus suppose that the Gilling monastery was built very soon after 651; that Trumhere was followed in 659 by Cynefrith; and that about a year later Tunberht succeeded him. These three are the only abbots of whom we have any record, although the building itself may have stood for another two hundred years, until the wholesale destruction of religious houses in the Danish invasions of 866­-7.

Not a trace of this monastery remains today, but fragments of Anglo-Saxon sculptured crosses displayed in the church porch testify to the survival of Christian worship in Gilling in the 9th and 10th centuries. A very common form of Anglian monument was a cross head crowning a square shaft decorated with scrolls showing fruits or foliage, sometimes with birds or other small creatures among the branches. Danish crosses on the other hand often had wheel heads, and the sculpture was rougher and less naturalistic, with decoration resembling interlacing ropework. Collingwood has described the Gilling stones in some detail. They include one 9th century cross head (late Anglian) on which a superimposed 'lorgnette' cross has round terminals representing the rivets of earlier applied metalwork crosses. Two other fragments are typical Norse wheel heads, one with a lorgnette, the other with rope tracery. There are also two pieces of shaft from the Viking age, both decorated with ropework. One of these, sixteen inches high, has a tapering rectangular column rising from a cylindrical base. The second, ten inches taller, shows on one side the body and tail of a ribbon-beast and may originally have been part of a monument twelve feet high. All the pieces are of brown sandstone, and much defaced. A large flat stone lying in the turf opposite the church porch (and now surmounted by three other blocks) may have been a cross base.

Two or three of these stones were dug out when a cellar was being made at Waterloo House, next to the Post Office. There are other indications that a considerable area of land lying south and east of the present church was once an ecclesiastical site. John Shaw, a native of Gilling, writing in 1867, mentioned the discovery of many human bones when the house adjoining the 'White Swan' on the south was built about fifty years before; and he continued: 'A new end was added to the house a few years ago, when more human bones were found; and in the garth behind and I think also in Mr Wharton's garden in digging post holes many human bones were found'. We have no means of dating these remains, but the probability that this was a burial ground is suggestive, since sites once consecrated usually persist over long periods, Shaw also stated that the 'Angel' inn was formerly a religious house - 'there has been many little windows and arches in it not visible now' - and H. A. Morrison, vicar from 1961 to 1967, drew attention to the adjoining cottages which, he suggested, still preserve traces of a mediaeval foundation, perhaps the chapel of a post-Conquest nunnery or monastery. There is a blocked square window in the south wall, and below it to the right what seems to be the remains of the arch of a doorway, though much of the latter was hidden when the cottages were converted to a single dwelling in 1963. The position of the arch, near to the ground, indicates that the building used to stand much further above ground level. The wide round arch of another doorway appears low in the east wall of the house and above are two blocked windows with arches similar in design to the others. If indeed a chapel once stood here, Morrison said, the east windows would have been above the altar and the arch below them would have represented the entry from the religious house. The doorway in the south wall would be in the correct position for a public entrance to the chapel. Only perhaps by stripping the inner face of the east wall back to the original stone could further evidence of the history of this building be obtained.

The years following Oswi's death in 670 were a high tide in the history of the English church, and nowhere more than in Northumbria - where Hilda ruled, Cuthbert preached and Bede wrote. Although the tide receded, and reached its lowest ebb at the close of the 9th century, yet an organisation had been established which was to survive the razing of buildings. By the 11th century the Danes had been largely absorbed and churches were again being built of restored. The tower of Gilling church may possibly retain traces of Saxon work - ­large irregular corner stones in the lowest courses, relatively thin walls, and perhaps even the jambs and arches of the blocked windows of the old belfry - but it is essentially Norman. In 1086 the church "in Ghellinges" was recorded in Domesday Book.


Already in the 7th century Gilling was one of the principal seats of the kings of Deira, and in the 10th it gave its name to one of the largest of the wapentakes into which the Riding was divided by the Danish invaders. It became the administrative centre for all the land between the Swale and the Tees, from the river Wiske to Westmorland. From the 9th century Gillingshire was held by the earls of Mercia, the last of whom, Edwin, may have had his manor house on Castle Hill, three hundred yards north-west of where Low Scales farm now stands. The site name is very old: a register book of St. Mary's abbey at York gives particulars of lands in 1309 'the tithes whereof appertain to the church of Gillyng', listing among other items 'three roods at Castle Hill' and 'one acre upon Castle Hill'. Writing in 1823 Whitaker stated that 'the last vestiges of Gilling Castle, the seat of the Saxon earls, are well remembered and were lately removed from the summit of the hill about a mile south of Gilling church'. Twenty-six years later Henry Maclauchlan (The Archeological Journal, Volume 6) found difficulty in identifying the precise location but talked with two old labourers, John Alien and Jenny Feetham (she born in 1750), who recalled helping to break up the foundations of the building, the walls of which had been four feet thick.

The manor of Gilling formed part of the vast possessions given by the Conqueror to his kinsman and supporter Alan Rufus, who built Richmond Castle. Edwin's house would be a wooden structure, which Alan may have rebuilt in stone pending the completion of his new fortress on the Swale. The importance of Gilling rapidly declined and apart from the somewhat scant records of landed families associated with the parish knowledge of its subsequent history centres almost entirely on the church. Rare indeed are such personal recollections as the following extract from John Warburton's diary written in the early 18th century: 'Thursday, October 16. Went from Walburn Hall to Richmond, about two miles of moorish ground and bad way, and thence to Ask Hall - belonging to His Grace the Duke of Wharton, to Gilling, a large church town, standing in a vally, not far from which is Sadbery, the seat of (James) Darcy, Esq., and Gillingwood, of (William) Wharton, Esq. Lodgd all night with Mr Matt. Smailes, an attorney-at-law in the town.'

We do not know just how much Gilling suffered in that 'harrying of the north' which in 1069 laid waste most of Northumbria - William the First's fearful answer to those who had resisted him; but even seventeen years afterwards only four ploughs were at work there on land sufficient for sixteen. Nevertheless the church was almost entirely rebuilt soon afterwards; the corners of the present nave and most of the tower date from that period. Before the 11th century closed it was given to the newly-founded abbey of St. Mary's in York, to which the tithes and other endowments were appropriated in 1224. The advowson (the right of presentation of incumbents) remained with the abbey until the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. St. Mary's became one of the largest and wealthiest of the Benedictine houses, holding manors and churches in many parts of Yorkshire. The abbey ruins may still be seen, the grounds forming a splendid setting for the Yorkshire Museum. This museum, incidentally, now displays the Gilling Sword, a fine Anglo-Saxon weapon 32.5 inches long, with its blade largely intact and with five silver bands around the hilt. The sword was found near the old ford at Gilling bridge in 1976, doubtless having been dredged up from its peat bed during re-grading of the beck.

In mediaeval times, and until comparatively recently, the parish of Gilling extended far beyond its present boundaries. In 1233 the Pope licensed the archbishop of York to build chapels in outlying places to be served by curates paid by the vicar. The necessity for such 'chapels of ease' was especially felt in Yorkshire, where a great many people might be cut off from their parish church in winter by flooded rivers and impassable roads. The archives of the see of York show that in 1344 'the abbey of St. Mary's possessed the church of Gilling with the chapels dependent thereon', and the abbey register for 1309 gives those chapels as Barton St. Mary's, Eriom (Eryholme), Cowton, Forcett, Hutton Magna, Appleby-on-­Tees (Eppleby), Barford-on-Tees and Mortham. Already in the 15th century Mortham lay waste, and St. Lawrence, Barford, just south of Gainford, has long been a total ruin, but a report of the Charity Commissioners in 1548 in respect of Gilling could still speak of 'six prestes belonging to the sayd paryshe at the findyng of the vacare there, besides the two chauntrye prestes'. Parish returns in 1783 and later years show 'annual immemorial payments' made out of the vicar's income to the curates of Forcett, Hutton Magna, Barton St. Mary's and Cowton. These places, with Eppleby, Eryholme and parts of Stapleton, are marked 'Gilling (detached)' on the first of the six-inch Ordnance Survey maps of the district, published in 1857. But although the vicar of Gilling is still a patron of the churches at Hutton Magna, South Cowton and Eryholme, all dependent chapelries of the ancient parish were designated vicarages by the late 19th century, having been declared independent benefices following the Pluralities Act of 1838.

The manor of Gilling, earlier possessed in turn by the lords of Richmond and St. Mary's abbey, was granted by Henry VIII to the Nortons, who also owned Hartforth. Richard Norton, a ringleader in the abortive rising of the northern earls against Elizabeth, lost his lands by attainder in 1569. His estates reverted to the Crown, which with the surrender of St. Mary's in 1539 already held the advowson. About 1585 the manorial rights became vested in the Bowes family, and in 1609 Humphrey Wharton bought them from Ralph Bowes. The son of Anthony Wharton of Regell Grange, Westmorland, Humphrey built Gillingwood Hall, which became the family seat. The Whartons still own much of the parish and remain patrons of the living, but since the establishment of the joint benefice of Gilling with Kirkby Ravensworth in 1976 the right of presentation has been shared with the bishop of the diocese. Gillingwood Hall was destroyed by a fire on S1. Stephen's Day 1750 and a farm stands on the site. Only a few fragments of the original building are preserved.

John Hall Stevenson of Skelton Castle, Cleveland, great-grandson of Anne Wharton of Gillingwood, assumed the name Wharton when he inherited the Gilling property in 1787. The estate subsequently passed to his nephew John Thomas Wharton, grandfather of Mrs Margaret Winsome Ringrose Wharton. The present beneficiary under a family trust is Anthony Charles Philip Wharton, great-grandson of James Charles Wharton, a former vicar of Gilling.


The names of some of the very early vicars of Gilling are found in the Patent rolls on which royal grants and privileges (including presentations to ecclesiastical benefices) were entered from the time of King John. Others occur in the de Banco rolls, which are law court records covering the period from Edward I to Henry VII, and in other ancient registers, kept like the Patent rolls at the Public Record Office in London. The principal sources of later information are the registers of the archdeaconry of Richmond. Originally within the diocese of York, Richmond was transferred to Chester when that diocese was formed in 1541. The present archdeaconry came into being when the eastern deaneries, including the deanery of Richmond, were detached from Chester in 1836 to become part of the new diocese of Ripon.
York registers beginning in 1361 and continuing into the 15th century were used by Matthew Hutton (1639-1711) to make the notebooks which today are the primary source for that period. Hutton's books (now among the Harleian manuscripts at the British Museum) and later registers provided James Torre (died 1699) with material for a series of folio volumes - five of them in the Minster library at York, which have been properly described as 'a treasure of information respecting benefices, patrons and incumbents'. There are omissions in Torre's lists however; Whitaker found the names of only four Gilling vicars, all from the 14th century. Later names from the York period have resulted from searches at the Record Office and from the work of A. H. Thompson. One of Thompson's sources was a copy of the earliest surviving register of the archdeaconry, covering the years 1442-1484. Consisting of 164 pages, written on vellum and in excellent preservation, it was used in 1853 for the series of Richmondshire wills published by the Surtees Society. Believed lost, it re-appeared about sixty years ago and was bought for the John Rylands library in Manchester.
The main archives of the Chester period are kept at the Cheshire Records Office, but there is a gap in the Bishop's Act Books there between 1686 and 1752 and earlier volumes do not include all the institutions in the diocese. Records of episcopal and other visitations furnish some additional names, and Whitaker was able to assemble what is probably a complete list of the vicars of Gilling from the mid-16th to the early 19t century. Post-1836 records are held at the Ripon diocesan registry in Leeds.

In the year 1299 an action was brought against William de Herdeby, vicar of Gilling, by Sir Thomas de Maunby, whose ancestor had given lands in Eppleby to John de Mallerstang, vicar of Gilling in the time of King John (1199-1216), in return for an undertaking to provide a chaplain for the chapel of St. Wilfred's at Eppleby on three days each week. These two holders of the benefice are the earliest of whom a record has been found. Although in ruins, St. Wilfred's still existed in 1586, but all trace of it has now disappeared.
The names of at least eight 14th-century vicars have been found. Whitaker mentions Roger de Geteheved, Nicholas Darell, Robert de Louthyr and William de Sandford. Plantagenet Harrison (The History of Yorksgire (1879)) adds four more: Simon de Leycester, Hugh de Gayteford, Richard (?) and Nicholas de Upton. In two cases the date of institution is known: Nicholas Darell - 13 May 1349, and William de Sandford - 26 April 1391. Louthyr's estate in the vicarage was ratified in 1388. Like all the vicars until the Dissolution, Darell was presented by the Abbot and Convent of St. Mary's. Five years later he was prosecuted by the archdeacon 'for contempt and transgressions'. Nicholas de Upton is recorded as having taken his estate bailiff to court, demanding of him 'a reasonable account'; and the last of the 14th-century incumbents, Sandford, was defendant in an action brought against him by his patron the abbot. Sandford's estate in the vicarage was ratified on 4 May 1392, probably as a precaution against the rival claim of John Haukeshede for whom a presentation had been attempted by the Crown a few weeks earlier.

Early in the 15th century in the reign of Henry IV, John Souleby became vicar of Gilling. Already installed in 1404, he probably held the living until his death in 1439; but he is remembered chiefly for the number of benefices he held in plurality. In 1412 he obtained a prebend in Southwell Minster (then a paid benefice), exchanging it a year later for a canonry at Ripon. In 1414 he secured a dispensation from the Pope to hold a second vicarage, and from then until 1416 he seems to have been vicar of Kimblesworth in Co Durham. Styled Perpetual Vicar of Gilling and Forcett, he probably employed a deputy at Gilling - John de Manfield, who became vicar when Souleby died. Souleby was appointed master of St. John's Hospital, Ripon in 1416; vicar-general to the archdeacon of Richmond in 1418; and prebendary of York Minster in 1419. He resigned his position at St. John's in 1426, and in 1435 he exchanged his Ripon canonry for the mastership of Greatham Hospital. When he died he was also rector of Bamingham. Souleby's successor, Manfield, was followed in 1454 by Robert Messynger, admitted in 1474 a member of the Corpus Christi Guild of York.

In 1535 the survey of benefices known as the Valor Ecclesiasticus was undertaken, made necessary by legislation of Henry VIII appropriating ecclesiastical revenues to the Crown. It shows that Dr. William Tate was then vicar of Gilling. A record of taxations in the archdeaconry of Richmond made ten years earlier (and now preserved in the Public Record Office) mentions Tate's predecessor and his curate: Magister Thomas Lee was vicar when the return was made by Archdeacon Dalby to Cardinal Wolsey, January 15, 1524-5, when the clarus valor was return as £13; Dominus Rudulphous Appylby was curate, clarus valor £4 13s. 4d.

Evidence of the close relationship that existed between Gilling and Forcett appears in the wills of two mid-century vicars. Both William Berrye (died 1561) and Cuthbert Thomson (died 1573) asked to be buried in Forcett church; Berrye 'within the Quier'. The inventory of Thomson's household goods is extremely interesting, including among other items the following: 'The lofte where the veker did lye. One bedsted with one feder bed and all yt belongs theronto, xxvjs viijd. ... In one chiste. Item ij. litill tyn bottels, one pair bridill bitts, ij. paire spures ... one prests bonet, iij. giltid dagers….'. Appended to the inventory is a letter from Thomson's successor in the living addressed to the registrar, which ends with the words: 'From Forcet this presente mornynge, by me, Nynyan Menvyle, vycare of Gyllinge'. Menvyle's name appears in Torre's list as Menfyld, but the general disregard of spelling niceties in those days is even more noticeable in the case of Simon Birchbeck, whose inscribed monument still lies in the floor of the nave of Forcett church and which translated reads: 'Here lies Simon Birckbeck, Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford, Bachelor of Theology, shepherd of the people of Gilling and Forcett ... 1656'. The parish register has Birbeck, and among many other spellings Birchbeck, Berchbeck, Birckbed and Birkith have been found.

The Chester records include three vicars between Thomson and Birckbeck - ­William Sterne, Roger Blagburne and William Barker. All three died in the vicarage but only Barker held the living for more than five years. He in fact served for thirty one years, and Birckbeck for forty. Simon Birckbeck was the first incumbent to be presented by a member of the Wharton family, Humphrey Wharton, on January 4, 1616. It seems that he was a relative of the Whartons, for he subscribed himself 'kinsman' in the dedication of his book The Protestants Evidence, a defence of the Church of England published in 1635. The next vicar was William Etherington, but much more widely known is Matthew Hutchinson, who died 'worth £50 a year' according to an entry in the Richmond register. In his will dated October 26, 1704, he bequeathed property in Richmond and Reeth for the relief of widows and the education of poor boys ('of good report and their parents frequenters of the prayers of the church'). Separate trusts were set up for Gilling and Richmond and both charities continue their useful work to the present day.

Whitaker records the existence of an inscribed memorial to William Thompson: 'Gulielmus Thompson, AM., Vicarius de Gilling, obiit 29 May, 1742, aetat. 70 ...'. The stone is no longer visible but may yet lie beneath the re-arranged pews of the inner north aisle. The names of some other 18th-century vicars occur in the Chester records in connection with the appointment of curates to daughter chapels in the parish. Thus in 1747 Benjamin Crowe nominated James Read, and in 1749 Cuthbert Alien, to the curacy at Forcett. Crowe died in the latter year and the vicar who nominated Matthew Raine in 1756 was James Worsley. Vicars of Gilling were themselves assisted by curates throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, whose names often appear in the burial register as officiating clergy (the last to be mentioned in this way was F.H. Homer in 1898).

Set in the chancel floor in front of the altar steps is a memorial to the last vicar to be buried inside the church building: 'Beneath this stone are interred the mortal remains of the Rev. Rob. Lascelles, M.A, (twenty-four years Vicar of this Parish) who was buried November 6' 1801, aged 81 years'. Already ordained, Lascelles was living at Skelton Castle in 1752 and may have resided there until his friend and patron John Hall Stevenson presented him to the Gilling living in 1777. Nicknamed 'Panty' (for Pantagruel) and so called in correspondence between Hall Stevenson and the author Laurence Sterne, his portrait in oils still hangs at the castle. At Gilling, according to Shaw, Lascelles 'was fond of greyhound coursing, netting birds, and had two or three card parties weekly'. He was the author of a book, Angling, Shooting and Coursing, published posthumously (London, 1815).

William Hall, already curate in 1795, and instituted vicar by his eldest brother, John Wharton, in 1801, was re-instituted as William Wharton in 1807. The following year he married Charlotte, daughter of the first Lord Dundas, of Easby. Of him Shaw wrote: 'not distinguished for pulpit ability or piety, but a pleasant and kind-hearted man'. He died in 1843 and was buried at Skelton. William Wharton was succeeded by his fourth son, James Charles Wharton, who held the living for fifty years; but James' son, George Henry Lawrence Wharton, resigned at the age of 33 after just six years as vicar.

An old resident, for many years a churchwarden, recalls the Rev. John Greville Chester and the Rev. John Henry Heigham as the last of the 'sporting' vicars of Gilling. Mr. Chester was a fine shot, and Mr. Heigham and members of his family regularly rode to hounds. Between them these two men occupied the vicarage for almost half a century. On his retirement in 1948 Mr. Heigham was followed by the much loved Mr. Spurrier, and he in turn by Herbert Andrew Morrison, remembered not least for his Lenten talks on Gilling and its church.

In a terrier dated 1783 Robert Lascelles wrote: 'There is no vicarage house, the vicar having from time immemorial rented a house'. Lascelles lived in the house at the north end of the High Street now known as 'The Old Parsonage', the property of the Whartons. It was William Hall who built a vicarage, on the south side of the church drive, in the first years of the 19th century - reputedly to satisfy the wishes of his future father-in-law. The work entailed the enclosure of land previously open to the village, and the demolition of cottages in Kirk Street which used to stretch from opposite the Square and the "Shoulder of Mutton" inn (where the village hall now stands) to the churchyard and round its northern boundary. The last vicar to live more than briefly in this vicarage, Harold Youngman Rowe, knocked down the extensive but no longer practical servants' quarters in 1967, financing the work by selling some ten acres of land between the vicarage garden and Waters Lane. The house itself was sold in 1978 when the present incumbent, the Rev. James Siller, moved into a new vicarage on the opposite side of the drive.

The gateposts at the entrance to the drive came from Gillingwood House. Nearby is the old elm tree, planted in 1714, which was the village meeting place until the vicarage wall was built and close to which the village stocks stood.


The late 11th-century church probably consisted of an aisleless nave, rectangular chancel and western tower, reflecting a Celtic rather than a continental influence. It was originally ascribed to St. Peter and there is no indication why or when the dedication to St. Agatha was made. Aisles were added to the building in the 14th century, carried westward to embrace half the width of the tower, and the north and south walls of the nave were replaced by the existing three-bay arcades with their Early English octagonal columns and pointed arches. The vestry also belongs to that period. A century or so later the tower was heightened and the nave roof was raised to admit clerestory windows (the remains of a gable, visible from the churchyard, show that the roof was once more steeply pitched). During the 19th century the original north aisle was replaced by two new aisles, the chancel and the porch were largely rebuilt, and the organ loft and tower stair were added.

Above the porch is an old sundial bearing the inscription 'Fugit Hora Ora' (time flies, pray thou). Inside the porch a stone seat on the left is topped with a mediaeval grave cover on which the outline of a shield with three bears rampant, a sword and a plain cross can be discerned. The similar seat opposite has two slabs: a small one, perhaps from a child's grave, and a larger one showing an eight-armed cross and sheep shears. The shears represent a woman and were a device of the northern sheep-raising districts. A sword indicates a man, not necessarily a soldier.

The moulded capitals of the nave arcades exhibit small differences of detail, greater as between the north and south series, and hood moulding is found only on the south arches. These are indications of a few years' difference in date, the south aisle being the older. It would not be uncommon for aisles to be built one at a time as the needs of a growing population required. Above the chancel arch two corbels project: before the Reformation these would carry the rood loft, a narrow gallery supporting a painted wooden crucifix which might be flanked by figures of the Virgin and St. John.

On the west wall, to the left of the baptistry arch, is a handsome brass plate inscribed with the names of men of the village who died in the two world wars. The name of John Greville Chester, vicar until his death in 1923, appears at the end of one of the front pews in the nave. In that year a faculty was obtained for the formation of a centre passage between the pews, lacking since the 1845 alterations although it seems that there had been one previously. Around the base of the lecturn run the words: 'The gift of parishioners and friends in memory of John Henry Heigham, Vicar of Gilling West 1923 - 1948'. A plaque on the wall near the pulpit names this vicar and his wife. A litany desk is a memorial (1964) to Eliza Caygill, 'forty years Councillor of this Parish'; and a table just within the main door commemorates Hilda Marguerite Willis (1968).

The fine black marble monument to the right of the baptistry arch has the full­ length figures of a knight and his lady; the man in armour with a roebuck at his feet, the woman wearing a netted head-dress with a cat at her feet. The inscription (in Latin) reads: 'Here lies Sir Henry Boynton, knight, last heir of Sedbury of that name, and Isabella his wife, who died the seventh day of January in the year of our Lord 1531, to whose souls may the Lord be gracious'. This stone was formerly in the old north aisle, covering the Boynton vault; and although it may have been moved during the 1845 rebuilding (since Sir Stephen Glynne speaks of it as being 'in the second north aisle' in 1866), it was probably not raised to its present position until work was being done on the tower at the turn of the century.

In 1525 Sir Henry Boynton and Richard Barningham founded the chantry of St. Nicholas - a chapel with a priest 'to pray for the souls of the founders and all Cristen soules'. 'The same chaunterye is within the sayd parishe church' wrote the commissioners who visited Gilling in 1546 and again in 1548; and since the north aisle was the burial place of the Boyntons it is likely that the chantry was established there. The chantry priest in 1546 was Robert Galen; and the annual income, out of which he was paid, was £4 13s 4d, arising from the rents of lands assigned by the founders. Two years later Robert Wilkynson was in charge, and two priests are mentioned but the same income. Wilkynson was described as 'of the aige of xliiij [44] yeres, of no lernyng, of honest conversacion and qualities'. His appointment was not to last long: the dissolution of the monasteries foreshadowed similar action against the chantries, of which there may have been as many as fifteen hundred in England at that time. By an Act of I Edward VI (1548) chantry lands were either sold or leased and chantry priests were pensioned off.

Monitions published in 1742 and 1743 gave notice of the construction of two galleries in the church to provide additional seating. The first, provided by Sheldon Cradock for the use of his family and the Hartforth servants, was built over the north side of the nave between the two pillars. Eleven feet long and eight feet wide, with two pews facing south, it was reached by a staircase beginning opposite the then-existing north door. This door was used by the boys of Hartforth School, who occupied seats at the back of the north aisle, with the master's pew in the corner by the tower. The second gallery was at the back of the nave, extending across the tower at a height of twelve feet. It was twenty-two feet long and nine feet deep, with a staircase at the south end. Thirty years later a third gallery was erected, of which the following extract from a faculty dated January 25, 1773, provides a detailed picture: '... near the bottom of the south aisle between the lowest south window and the great south door where a gallery to contain three seats [pews] may be erected extending in length from the south wall to the stone pillar on the north twelve feet five inches and eight feet from the front towards the west the basis whereof to be eight feet from the level of the floor and the bottom of the stairs to be five feet six inches broad ascending towards the west wall from the corner of the great south door and the staircase to be two feet nine inches broad and to turn back and go from the west wall over the top of the south door into the said gallery……With liberty to divide the said gallery into three seats or pews...and to cut the stone pillar and to break the walls wherein to place the... beams to support the gallery...Granted to Richard Gamwells, William Readhead and James Hawkswell for the use of themselves and their families'.

The galleries together provided seats for seventy people but must have greatly disfigured the interior of the building. A need for still more accommodation having been established, permission was sought in 1843 to dismantle the north wall, provide a second north aisle, remove the galleries and fit new pews throughout the church. In the event much more was done. The modern inner aisle is much wider than the old north aisle and it is evident from the ground plan dated 1845 that it resulted from a complete reconstruction, including new windows at each end. Both in it and in the additional aisle (divided from it by a four-bay arcade) an attempt was made 'to correspond as much as maybe with the style of architecture of the old structure': but the outcome was not particularly happy: some small inconsistencies of detail are insignificant, but a major imbalance was produced in the church as a whole.

The work did not end there however. The plan accompanying the final report to the consistory court of Richmond, dated 21 September, 1847, indicates that the chancel too was largely rebuilt - no doubt at the expense of the lay rector, John Thomas Wharton, and in memory of his father, the late vicar. The seats in the church were entirely renewed and re-arranged, and this involved a radical re­allocation of 'sittings' - pews reserved for named people - which then and into the 20th century accounted for the majority of the available places. Children of the National school were no longer accommodated on benches in the chancel, where the stalls continued to be set aside for the patron and his family. The choir occupied pews in what is now the baptistry. The Sedbury four-poster pew on the left of the chancel arch made way for a new pulpit, and the old pulpit, with sounding-board overhead, was replaced by the present desk. In spite of the loss of the galleries the post-1845 church held a hundred and thirty-four more people, and a hundred places were set aside (in the more distant parts) 'as free and open sittings for the use and benefit of the poor inhabitants of the parish wherein to attend divine service and sermons'.

A note in the register of baptisms reads: 'That on the third day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-five the foundation stone of an additional north aisle was laid by John Thomas Wharton, Patron and Impropriator, in the presence of us whose names are hereunto subscribed - and the church was re-opened for divine service on the fourteenth day of November in the same year. James C. Wharton, Vicar; Frank Speddings, Thomas Emmerson, Churchwardens'.

During the hundred years that followed memorials to the Cradocks of Hartforth and to the Gilpin Browns of Sedbury multiplied in the north aisles. Still within the parish today, both estates have been closely linked with Gilling throughout their history. In the 17th century Whartons owned Hartforth as well as Gilling, but Hartforth was bought in 1720 by William Cradock of Gainford, a descendant of John Cradock, Chancellor to the Bishop of Durham, who died in 1627 and was buried in Durham Cathedral. The Hall dates from about 1740, with some 19th­ century additions. William Cradock married Mary Sheldon, and the name Sheldon Cradock ran through five generations to Sheldon William Keith Cradock, who died
in 1922. He and two of his brothers, with their sister, are remembered in three of the windows in the north wall of the church. They were children of Georgiana Cradock, to whose memory the window in the east wall of the inner aisle was erected. An imposing monument below this window recalls the distinguished naval career of Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock, killed in action leading his squadron at the battle of Coronel off the Chilean coast in November 1914.

In 1891 Gwendoline Georgina Cradock married Herbert Straker of Hartforth Grange, in Gilling church. Their son, Major Guy Herbert Straker, inherited the Hartforth property and took the name Cradock in 1930. He died at the Hall in 1975 and was buried in Gilling. His sister had married the 10th Lord Barnard at Gilling in 1920 and one of her grandsons, Josslyn Gore-Booth, now owns Hartforth.

After the death of James Lord Darcy in 1733 the Sedbury estate passed first to a cousin, Henry Darcy of Colburn, and then successively to the Darcy Hildyards and the Darcy Huttons. James Darcy Hutton sold Sedbury in 1826 to the Rev. John Gilpin, vicar of Stockton-on-Tees, whose wife was Jemima Brown. Their son George added the name Brown when he inherited much of Arkengarthdale on the death of his mother in 1854. George Gilpin Brown had a large family: six of his sons grew to manhood and there were four daughters, one of whom, being the eighth child, was named Octavia. On his death in 1889 the fine west window of the inner north aisle was erected by parishioners and personal friends. Memorials to his sons include the east window of the outer aisle and several mural tablets close by. The eldest son, George Thomas Gilpin Brown of Sedbury, was killed by an accidental fall in his own grounds when he was 70 years old. The property was bought by Mr. G. E. Sisterton in 1920; by Mr. Charles Webb in 1925; and by Brigadier Baker Baker in 1947. The Hall is almost entirely modern, the old house having been pulled down in 1927.

Although the stone tracery and the glass in the windows of the south aisle are modern, the walls, the doorway and the jambs and heads of the windows all date from the 14th century. An ancient piscina opening near the south-east corner suggests that there was once a chapel here, with an altar. The corbel in the east wall may have supported a statue. A 15th-century recessed tomb has a cinque­ foiled arch with a gabled hood mould and what may be the remains of a leaf­-carved finial (or, since it is so heavily defaced, was this the figure of a saint?). The recess has a slab engraved with a sword and eight-armed cross.

The east window of the south aisle is a memorial to Charlotte Wharton. Beside it is a tablet to two sons of the Rev. J. G. Chester, both killed in the 1914 - 1918 war. The windows in the south wall commemorate thirteen members of the Roper family of Richmond and Gilling Lodge. In 1838 Roper Stote Donnison Rowe Roper married Jemima Margaret Gilpin, sister of George Gilpin of Sedbury. They and four of their eight children are named on brasses below the left-hand window. The second window was given by George and Elizabeth Roper in memory of some of their own ten children and 'as a thank-offering for 50 years of happy married life'. The right-hand light depicts St. Agatha, to whom the church is dedicated. She was a native of Sicily, where she died a martyr on February 5, AD. 251. 

On the wall between these windows are three marble tablets. The lower right-­hand one names Esther Raine (1757 - 1838), but chiefly extols the achievements of her two brothers, one of whom (Matthew) was born in Gilling and was headmaster of Charterhouse from 1791 until his death in 1811. Above the recessed tomb is a tablet erected by these brothers in memory of their parents, Matthew and Esther. Written in Latin, it has been well described by Whitaker as 'an effusion of filial piety' ('..Maritus probus, liberalis Pater, strenuus Magister .. .'). The father, who died in 1807, had been master of the free grammar school at Hartforth and vicar of St. John's, Stanwick. No doubt it was he who composed the Greek inscription on the third tablet: 'God helps the struggling one', in memory of his own father, also Matthew, who died in 1771.

Above the south door is a panel of wood emblazoned with the Royal Arms, ascribed to George IV with the date 1829. It would seem however that a mistake was made, for the arms are probably those of George III. George IV ascended to the throne in 1820. The Hanoverian escutcheon over the quartered arms of England, Scotland and Ireland on the royal shield bore the electoral bonnet of Hanover in the period 1801 to 1815, but thereafter the Imperial Crown. What appears at the centre of the Gilling panel may represent a bonnet but is certainly not the Imperial crown.
The ornate marble murals on either side of the south door are early 18th-century memorials to the Darcys of Sedbury. A line on one of them ('interred in this north aisle') indicates that they were moved from their original position on the old north wall when the new aisles were built in 1845.

Almost everything now visible in the chancel is modern, including the restored east and south walls and the re-facing on the north wall. The Norman-style windows and six-panelled blind arcade behind the wooden altar, the doorway into the churchyard, and most of the furnishings, are Victorian. More recent still are the sanctuary chair and the credence table within the Communion rail; the former, with the lecture in the nave, authorised as a memorial to Canon Heigham by a faculty dated October 31, 1955. Only the chancel arch, the 14th-century doorway into the vestry (with hood mould stopped by grotesques of a man and a beast), and a piscina basin in the south wall belong to the very distant past. The windows on the south commemorate William Wharton, the first of the Wharton vicars. In 1728 - 30 the chancel was the scene of a considerable dispute between an earlier William Wharton, then lay rector and Sir James Darcy.

Shaw fills in the story: 'Once, when the Gillingwood Hall family and the Sedbury family were at variance, the former refused Sedbury admission through the chancel door, their usual way of entrance, so Sedbury demanded the key to enter by the north door rather than enter with the general public'.
The 14th-century vestry has an unusual diagonally-ribbed half-tunnel vault (a full tunnel of similar design may be seen in the porch of Richmond church). Photographs of 19th and 20th century vicars hang on the wall. A large engraving of the Rev. R. Lascelles, dated 1795, is dedicated to John Wharton, Esq. The west door and the store into which it leads are modern, but the wall against which both vestry and store are built may be as old as the original chancel. From the churchyard a blocked round arch, six feet wide, may be seen in this wall. It probably linked the chancel with a former chapel or aisle which may have contained the Norman lancet window (also blocked) which is set within the arch.

The ground floor of the tower is now the baptistry. The 13th-century cauldron ­shaped font used to stand under the arch, and earlier still was in the south aisle, when baptisms were often conducted from the porch. The west window opening is 15th-century insertion, but the stained glass (representing the baptism of Christ) is a memorial to the Rev. James Wharton and was dedicated in 1901. A faculty was obtained in 1899 to cut an opening in the tower wall above the arch to form an organ chamber. The old organ was removed from the ground floor and a new and larger instrument ('incorporating all the pipes of the old organ') was installed in the floor above. A stone stairway was built adjoining the tower on its south side to provide access from both the churchyard and the baptistry. A wooden stair inside the tower goes up to the second floor, where the small-rubble walls are unplastered and the only light enters through a small almond-shaped window as old as the tower itself. Here is the clock mechanism, made by George Brownless of Staindrop in 1758. Another stair climbs to the level of the old belfry: the blocked remains of windows can be seen from the churchyard, but the best-preserved opening is hidden behind the clock face in the east wall. From within one can just see the tops of two round-headed lights, but the central shaft has gone.
The present bell-chamber, reached by a ladder, is a 15th-century addition. The square-headed window openings, each originally with two lights, are now filled with wooden louvres. There are three bells, the 'second' made by Henry Jurden of London about 1450, the treble and tenor by Samuel Smith of York in 1707. Each bell is inscribed:

'Gloria in altissimis Deo 1707' (treble, west)
'Sancta Thoma ora pro nobis' (second)
'Venite exultemus Domino 1707' (tenor, east)

A trap-door gives access to the embattled top of the tower.

In the time of Henry 11, Henry de Sadbury was lord of Sadbury-juxta-Gilling, but in the 13th century his great-granddaughter, Juliana, married Richard de Barningham, who thus became possessed of the manor. The Barninghams held Sedbury until 1350, when it was sold to the Scropes of Masham. A principal feature of the Barningham shield - three bears rampant - is seen on a grave cover in the church porch, and the Barningham arms in stained glass survive in the 14th-century head of one of the windows in the south aisle.

In the 15th century Sedbury became the property of Sir Christopher Boynton, whose son Henry, in 1489, married Isabella, daughter of Bertram Lumley of Ravensworth. This was the Henry Boynton who joined with another Richard Barningham to found the chantry of St. Nicholas. The arms of Boynton and of Lumley appear above the figures in the Boynton memorial in the nave, and they appear again in the north aisle.

Sir Henry Boynton's daughter and heir, Isabella, married Henry Gascoigne, second son of Sir William Gascoigne of Gawthorp. The Sedbury estate remained with four generations of Gascoignes, until in 1641 another Isabella was left sole heir. A stained-glass shield on a square of glass in the north aisle belonged to the Gascoignes and was probably part of a window in the old north aisle. Of twenty ­four quarterings eight are not missing, but among the families represented were such names as Franke, Mowbray, Wyman, Neville, Barton and Bulmer, all linked by marriage with the Gascoignes. The Gascoigne arms from the first quartering of the shield and those of Boynton and Lumley are the last two.

Isabella, last of the Gascoignes, had a daughter who married the Hon. James Darcy, sixth son of Conyers Lord Darcy of Hornby Castle, taking Sedbury with her. Their son, also James, was created Lord Darcy of Navan (Ireland) and died in 1731 at the age of 80, just two years before his grandson, a third James Darcy. This last, James Jessop Lord Darcy, was he who erected the monument now on the left of the south door, in memory of his great-grandfather, grandfather, and several ladies of his family. On it faint traces of the Darcy arms survive, but the arms have disappeared completely from his own memorial on the right-hand side of the door, only the motto remaining: 'Un Dieu, un Roy'. All the Darcys thus commemorated were buried at Gilling.

The arms of Cradock, surmounted by the crest, appear in the window at the east end of the north wall of the north aisle.

In one of the windows in the south wall of the chancel is a memorial inscription to the Rev. William Wharton, placed there by his son John Thomas Wharton. Above it are the impaled arms of Wharton and Dundas beneath the Wharton crest. The window to the left repeats the impaled arms, but within a lozenge - ie. for Charlotte Wharton, while that on the right - for William, has the Wharton arms with crest. The mullet (star) in these arms identifies William Wharton as a third son.


Apart from the Barningham and Gascoigne fragments, none of the stained glass in the church is older than the 19th century. The east window of the south aisle (biblical scenes representing motherhood) and the east window of the inner north aisle are by William Wailes of Newcastle, an artist who has been described as a pioneer of his time. Very good examples of his work may be seen in the church of St. John the Baptist in Newcastle. The Gilpin Brown windows in the north aisles are by Alfred O. Hemming of London.


The existing vessels include four made by Barnards of London in 1844 and probably used at the re-opening of the church in the following year. They were obtained through Messrs. Barber and North, of York, whose account has been preserved, dated Dec. 29, 1845:
A plain silver flagon £20 0s 0d
- do - chalice £6 15s 0d
- do - patine £7 17s 6d
- do - plate £7 5s 0d

A silver chalice and paten now stored at the Bank date from the early 17th century. It is likely that they were given by that Humphrey Wharton who bought the manor and who in 1616 presented Simon Birckbeck to the living. The cup is plain, with a bell-shaped bowl and well-moulded stem, knop and foot. It is 7 3/8 inches high. The following comment has been made on these two vessels: 'The old cup is a very good one in shape and design; the date letter is that for 1620 and the maker's mark AB, who has been noted as the maker of a very fine flagon at S. Mary Abbot's, Kensington, and other plate elsewhere. His name has not been discovered. The paten which forms a cover to it does not belong to it. The date is 1624 and the maker PB, whose mark again is well known but name unknown'. The comment continues: 'I have an idea that in or about 1845, when the new things were got, an old cup and an old paten, like the two old ones remaining, were exchanged away, and a mistake was made by sending away a cup with the cover of the other cup, and hence the cup and cover now existing not belonging to each other '. It is not improbable that a chalice and paten should have been given in 1620 and a second pair in 1624; and it may well be that one of the cups was deemed no longer serviceable after more than two hundred years of regular use; but the actual history of these ancient vessels remains a matter for speculation.


The Gilling parish records were deposited in the North Riding (now North Yorkshire) County Record Office at Northallerton in 1967. They are regrettably incomplete and few predate the 19th century. The parish registers however begin in 1680, with a baptismal record for the years 1639 - 1642 also. Earlier books are known to have existed, and a note in 1780 castigates those responsible for failure to preserve them and keep them up-to-date: 'The keeping of a Church Book, for the age of those who should be born and christened in the Parish, began in the Thirtieth Year of King Henry the Eighth, that it in the Year of Our Lord 1539, so that in this present year 1780 it is 241 years ago. This Register Book seems to have taken date 1639, but not to have been regularly kept till 1680 owing, it is to be apprehended, to the shameful neglect of former Incumbents during the space of 140 years'. The registers of births, marriages and deaths now at Northallerton run up to 1842, 1837 and 1859 respectively.

The first entry in the register of baptisms is dated November 24, 1639: 'Andrew, sonne of Launzlott Langhorne'. The baptism of 'William, ye son of William Thompson, then Vicar of Dovercourt and Harwich in ye County of Essex' appears in 1704, the year preceding his father's institution as vicar of Gilling. The boy was born at Harwich, and his mother must have died then or shortly afterwards, for William Thompson married again, at Kirk Merrington, in 1708 - a fact recorded in the Gilling register. No less than eleven Cradock children were baptised at Gilling during the 18th century, and between 1680 and 1750 (the year when the Hall was burned down) four of the Whartons of Gillingwood were buried here, though no trace of their graves exists today. The Wharton name does not re-appear in the registers until the early 19th century, when children of William and Charlotte Wharton were christened.

The records show how, among the ordinary people of the parish, family names often persist over long periods up to the present day. Not less frequently, they may disappear completely, and new ones take their place. The occupations of villagers, many of them noted in the registers of baptisms, followed a rather different pattern. In the 18th century we find the following, among others: farmer, gardener, labourer, miller, maltster, inn-keeper, mason, plasterer, cooper, brazier, blacksmith, carpenter, cord-wainer, butcher, weaver, tailor, stay-maker, quarryman, carrier, servant, toll-gate keeper and most of these were centuries old trades, often handed down from father to son. Today there are very few tradesmen actually carrying on their work in the village itself. With the coming of the railways there came freedom of movement and the end of village isolation; and in the 20th century the change was vastly accelerated by the introduction of motor transport and by the development of modern communications systems. Most men, and many women, now work outside the village, often doing work unknown to previous generations. So, for example, we find the following in the current register: chauffeur (1909), road scout (1925), bus driver (1932), machine operator (1955), office machinery mechanic (1960), public relations officer (1964), local government officer (1965) and research engineer (1973).
Occasionally the burials registers provide glimpses of exceptional personal tragedies. In 1766 three boys, Anthony, Matthew and John Heslop, 'were unfortunately drowned in Aske pond, by the breaking of the ice'. Eight years before, John Moore of Gilling had been murdered on the road between Richmond and Aske. He was buried near his parents (south-east of the church porch) beneath a stone with angels' heads, an open book, hour-glass and inscription: 'John Moore, of Gilling, Brasier, 21 Jan. 1758, age 66, wife Elizabet, 1753, son John, Brasier, 1758, age 30'. The story of the crime is told on the reverse of the stone:

"Unto the mournful fate of young John Moore,
Who fell a victim to some Villain's power,
In Richm'nd Lane, near to Ask Hall, 'tis said,
There was his life most cruelly betray'd.
Shot with a Gun by some abandon'd Rake,
Then knock'd 0' the' head with a hedging stake,
His soul I trust is with the blest above,
There to enjoy eternal rest and love;
Then let us pray his murderer to discover,
That he to justice soon may be brought over."

But, says Shaw, the criminal 'escaped the hand of justice'.

The churchyard has been enlarged from time to time. The report of a survey made in 1873 recommended that several old buildings on the NNW boundary (stables, gig houses, etc), perhaps the remains of cottages in Kirk Street, be pulled down 'because they unnecessarily encroach upon the churchyard and much disfigure the same and impede the view of the church from the parishioners'. A plan shows a coach road leading from the vicarage to these buildings and on round the churchyard and then due south by the vicarage wall down to Waters Lane. This road is still remembered as having been used by the vicar and his family. The same plan shows the 'recent addition', by the surrender of glebe, of a wide strip all round the churchyard except where bounded by the vicarage wall.

A major extension of the churchyard towards the north-west was made in 1950. Since then the foundations of buildings formerly in Kirk Street have occasionally obstructed grave-digging. In the older parts few memorials earlier than 1750 survive. One of the most ancient is that to John Heineman, 'Cooke to the Right Honourable Sir Conyers Darcy', the date perhaps 1730. Only a little more recent, a stone to the memory of William and Ann Wailer (1764) offers sound advice:

'Adieu vain world, I've had enough of thee,
But now I'm careless what thou sayest of me,
Thy smiles I court not nor thy frowns I fear,
My days are past, my head lies quiet here,
What faults in me you've seen take care to shun,
Look but at home - enough there's to be done'.
Perhaps the finest epitaph was written as the 18th century closed:

"Near this stone are deposited the remains of
Jean Baptiste Henry, a native of Vitri le Francois,
in the Kingdom of France;
who for near thirty years was a faithful servant
in the house of Sedbury.
He died May 3rd 1797 at an advanced age, and
Having no near relations bequeathed an ample fortune,
the fruits of honest industry and strict economy,
to his Friends, Fellow-servants and the Poor.

Among the 19th century graves are those of George Wilson, 'of Gilling Lodge, formerly Surgeon in the Honourable East India Company serving at Madras' (1821); Samuel Spedding, 'Chief Constable' (1831); and William Hildreth, 'private soldier in the 3rd. batt. 1st. foot, who died in Portugal, June 1st, 1812, aged 38 years', and who probably fought under Wellington at Torres Vedras. Gilpins and Whartons lie here too (though not the Wharton vicars), and a fenced alter-tomb north of the church covers the Cradock vault.

Of all the memorials in the churchyard perhaps none better expresses the love felt by Gilling people for their village and their church than that to George Alderson, 'agent to the Earl of Bridgewater and other gentlemen', who died at Bath in 1818, but was brought home to rest:

'He was a native of this place'.

(r = resigned d = died in service)

Instituted                                             Other Recorded Dates
John de Mallerstang                             temp. King John
William de Herdeby                             1289, 1290, 1299
Simon de Leycester                             1307, 1308, 1311
Hugh de Gayteford                              1344, 1346
Roger de Geteheved                           Vicar before Darell
Nicholas Darell                                    13 May 1349 15 September 1903
Richard ---------                                   08 October 1903
Nicholas de Upton                               17 October 1903
Robert de Louthyr                               1388, 1391r
William de Sandford                            26 April 1391 30 October 1903
John Souleby                                       1404, 1439d
John Manfield                                     1414, 1446, 1454d
Robert Messynger                               12 April 1454 13 January 1904
Thomas Lee                                        04 March 1904
William Tate                                        14 March 1904
William Berrye                                    1548, 1554, 1562d
Cuthbert Thomson                               15 January 1562 1573d
Nynyan Menvyle                                 25 March 1573 1576d
William Sterne                                     22 March 1576 1580d
Roger Blagburne                                 27 July 1580 1585r
William Barker                                    15 September 1585 1616d
Simon Birchbeck                                 23 December 1616 1656d
William Etherington                             15 September 1665 1681d
Matthew Hutchinson                           20 July 1681 1705d
William Thompson                              23 February 1705 1742d
Benjamin Crowe                                 17 July 1742 1749d
James Worsley                                   22 March 1749 1777d
Robert Lascelles                                 13 December 1777 1801d
William Hall                                        3 December 1801 1807r
William Wharton                                20 December 1807 1843d
James Charles Wharton                      16 May 1843 1893d
George Henry Lawrence Wharton      26 May 1893 1899r
John Greville Chester                          18 July 1899 1923d
John Henry Heigham                          09 May 1923 1948r
Horatio Sandys Cumby Spurrier           05 October 1948 1961r
Herbert Andrew Morrison                   01 July 1961 1966r
Harold Younoman Rowe                     19 January 1967 1975r
James Robert William Siller                 24 February 1977
Peter Hulett                                        12 March 1983
Harry Alexander Tait                          20 October 1990
Jennifer Irene Williamson                    25 April 1995 2005r