St John Timberhill

This site of this church was originally just outside the Castle Bailey. Timberhill itself was the open area to the south of the church, where a timber market was held.


The church now consists of a nave, a chancel, and two aisles which run the full length of both, giving a square plan. Its tower fell in 1784, and replaced by a wooden bell-frame; this was in turn replaced by the current stone turret in 1877.

On the east wall, where the south aisle joins the chancel, there is some long-and-short work, which may indicate a date of pre-1066, although Anglo-Saxon building styles continued in use for some time after that date.

The dormer windows are needed to allow extra light into the interior, as there is no clerestorey. In their current form they also date from the 1870s.


The inside of this church has seen several major re-orderings. The mediæval arrangements were replaced in the 18th century, when the nave and chancel were filled with box pews, and the aisles with inward-facing seats in raked rows, focussing on the pulpit.

In 1871, Edward Ram became Vicar, and he set in train a thorough re-ordering inside and out, as the church was in a very poor way – so much so that services had to be held under the gallery for fear of falling roof timbers. What he attempted to do was to recreate what he thought the interior of the church looked like in the Middle Ages.

The square pews and gallery were removed; the bell-turret replaced. The font was moved from beside the altar to the west end, but its cover was not constructed until 1929.

Ram also erected a chancel screen, with loft, in 1890, together with a cross on the beam above. In 1893, he added the figure of Christ to the cross, and the figures of Mary and John, and these, together with various ritual practices, such as burning incense and reserving the sacrament for the sick, caused major ‘differences’ between Ram and Bishop John Sheepshanks for the next twelve years.

This arrangement lasted until 1980, when the church was again re-ordered. Ram’s screen and loft were removed, as were the choir stalls, and the altar brought forward, and the current arrangement is as much a product of the 1980s as Ram’s was of the 1880s.

The figures on the rood beam were made in Oberammergau. Over the altar is a candelabrum, probably German, of c1500; it was given to the church in 1723.

The reredos is also from Oberammergau, and was installed in 1911. It was shorn of its canopies in 1980, but some parts have been replaced.

The pulpit dates from the 1870s. Ram had started to make it himself, but found it too time-consuming.

There are very few wall monuments. The most noteworthy is that for Robert Page , (north wall of sanctuary) designed by himself.

Stained glass
The panel of Mary in the south nave aisle is by Martin Travers, and was originally in All Saints’ Church, next door. It is an early work, dating from his schooldays Travers also designed the east window in the south chapel, which shows the Ascension, and is from a much later period of his life.


The church has its own web site at:

Churches managed by NHCT are highlighted in in bold below. Click to visit a church.
All Saints Westlegate St. George Tombland St. Julian St. Michael at Plea
St. Andrew St. Giles St. Lawrence St. Peter Hungate
St. Augustine St. Gregory St. Margaret St. Peter Mancroft
St. Benedict St. Helen St. Martin at Oak St. Peter Parmentergate
St. Clement St. James Pockthorpe St. Martin at Palace Plain St. Saviour
St. Edmund Fishergate St. John de Sepulchre St. Mary Coslany St. Simon & St. Jude
St. Etheldreda St. John Maddermarket St. Mary the Less St. Stephen
St. George Colegate St. John Timberhill St. Michael(Miles) Coslany St. Swithin