Nikolaus Pevsner on Thirsk

ST MARY. Without question, this is the most spectacular Perp church in the North Riding. Admittedly it cannot compete with the East Anglian Perp, but in its own county it stands out. It was begun about 1430 and built into the c16 - the tower apparently first (see the straight joint between its E buttresses and the aisle w walls), the chancel after the nave and aisles. The stimulus seems to have been the foundation of a chantry by Robert Thirsk, who died in 1419. Licence for it was given in 1431. Heraldic arguments allow the chancel E window to be dated c.1460. The restoration by Street in 1877 has done no damage. If the church thus appears as a perfect all-round Perp job, it must be recorded that some few very minor details point to an earlier date, notably the fragment of the hood-mould of a much lower tower arch in the nave w wall and the roof-line on the same wall of a nave roof without clerestory. The w tower has w buttresses with exaggeratedly many set-offs, a large three-light w window, three-light bell-openings, and nicely lacy openwork battlements. This motif recurs on clerestory, aisles, and chancel -with pinnacles in addition. The clerestory has six tall three-light windows with panel tracery under depressed pointed arches. In the aisles the three-light windows have two-centred arches, in the chancel they are under basket arches. Two-storeyed S porch. Under the chancel is a crypt with a shallow tunnel-vault. The six-bay arcades have typical Perp piers of a section of four shafts and four diagonal hollows. Two-centred arches. The tower arch is the same, the chancel arch of 1877. Very fine wagon roof with bosses and ornamented corners round the bossses. In the chancel SEDILIA with the same nearly round arches as those of the windows. -SCREENS. To the s chapel and at the w end of the N chapel. Single-light division, but different tracery. - DOORS. The S door with tracery, the N door simple but of the same Perp date. - SCULPTURE. In a niche above the w window a seated Virgin, which looks mid C 14 rather than mid c15. -WALL PAINTING. Faded C17 figures of the Apostles. -STAINED GLASS. In the s aisle B window c15 figures, heads, and fragments. - In the s aisle SE window glass by Holiday, 1875. Only the very pretty small figures in the tracery survive, worthy of Morris. - In the B window unattractive glass of 1844, designed by Lady Walsingham and her daughters and made by Wailes. - PLATE. Paten, Russian, pre-1750 (VCH); Baptismal Bowl, German, early CI7 Cup by Christopher Mangey, York, 1631; Cup by Robert Williamson, York, 1631; Paten by Edward Vincent, dated 1725. - MONUMENTS. Brass to Robert Thirsk + 1419, 'fundator istius cantariae' (see above). Demi-figure 7 in. long with angels 1. and r. -Tablet to the Hon. Aurelia Frederica Wilhelmina Melesina Storre, daughter of Baron Storre, Aide de Camp of Charles XII and Swedish Minister to the British Court, + 1778. By Fisher of York.
THIRSK HALL. The house lies right by the church. The two belong together as in a village, and one can easily forget that they are in a town. Coming up Kirkgate, however, to the church, the ambiguity of town house and country house is very apparent. As it is now there is not even a front garden with gates and railings between street and house. The house started life as a five-bay, two-storey brick job about 1720-30. John Carr in 1771-3 added three-bay wings and a top storey to the centre. There are stone quoins and string courses but no other enrichments. The doorway has a small pediment on brackets, of the Carr time, if not later. But inside, the entrance hail, and especially the room to its r., with Kentian Greek-key decoration of the beams and of the overmantel, is typical of c.1730-40. The staircase, rather heavier in scale than the rest, comes from the Manor House of Newcastle-on-Tyne. It has twisted balusters in three thick detached strands, and must date from the ending C17. The Great Dining Room, on the other hand, in Carr's r. wing, has very elegant decoration of the seventies, dainty and restrained. The bills for plasterer and woodcarver survive. The back of the house has a cast-iron veranda, early C19 presumably. In the garden the stump of the Thirsk MARKET CROSS and a very strange, high base said to come from Hood Grange. It may well be Romanesque, and has two small figures in relief flanked by much larger addossed animals, an Italian conceit. The decorative details seem to be of c.1200, as far as they can be recognized.
PERAMBULATION. As a town, Thirsk is disappointing. The MARKET PLACE has a depressing Clock Towerette, a surfeit of lorries, and no houses of distinction except two, one enjoyable inside, the other outside. The former is the THREE TUNS HOTEL, once the Manor House of Thirsk. Its front is plain (of nine bays and three storeys), but it has a good staircase with twisted balusters and Queen Anne arches and in an upper room a good midde but with a pretty additional canted bay with Gothick glazing bars. Rainwater-heads 1791. Door hood on iron brackets. N from the NW corner of the Market Place runs KIRKGATE with the best c18 houses, but again none special, until one reaches Thirsk Hall the church. N from the NE corner via MILLGATE to a three-arch BRIDGE of 1789 (MHLG) and so to the GREEN, really a village green, once independent, but now ruined in that half of it is no longer green but grey. On its E side the METHODIST CHURCH, next to its predecessor of 1816, brick, five bays, with a five-bay pediment and arched windows.
To the E of the Market Place FINKLE STREET, and at its end on the S the former offices of the BOARD OF GUARDIANS with a nice fašade, then the BRIDGE of 1799 (MHLG) and INGRAMGATE. No houses of importance here either, but the Ministry of Housing investigator said very sensitively of it that it is 'magnificently spacious' and that the sharp the bridge to Finkle Street 'produced the exciting effect of the centre of the town piled up o block the way'. From the E end of Ingramgate one can continue E and have a look at the former WORKHOUSE of 1838, brown brick, with a latish classical, symmetrical front, or turn N into LONG STREET for a look at the BRITISH AND FOREIGN SCHOOL of 1841, also brown brick, also symmetrical, with arched windows in centre and angle pavilions and a projecting wing on the r. Finally to the S from the Sw corner of the Market Place, i.e. own CASTLEGATE. On the w side is ALL SAINTS, the R.C. church, built in 1866-7 by W. A. Brown (Gs). It is of yellow and black bricks and has a polygonal apse but no tower. The tracexyis geometrical. The STAINED GLASS in the apse, date of death recorded 1860, is uncommonly sharply drawn and unmuddy in colour. Opposite, the former PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHAPEL of 1851 grey brick, four bays with arched windows and a four-bay pediment. Next to it the SAVINGS BANK of 1849, yellow brick, with arched windows and quite a touch of the Italianate. From here, by turning r. and 1., one is at Sowerby.