History of St Marys
The earliest mention of a church here is in 1086 with an entry in the Domesday Book:
In Maltune. Siuuard 7 Torchil. viii.car ad gld…. Ibi æccla 7 fed. 1. mold…
(In Malton Siward and Thorkil hold 8 caruncates taxable… There is a church there and one mill…)
Little if anything remains of this church building though recent works for a new toilet revealed stone foundations pre-
The Gilbertine Priory
The new Priory was endowed with farmlands and churches in the surrounding area. The priory was never large by Cistercian standards, but as one of the largest Gilbertine houses it constituted one of the major local landowners and several canons represented the area in Parliament.
In layout it seems to have been fairly typical of monasteries in general, but the buildings were more elaborate than most Gilbertine houses, which typically had churches of extremely simple layout with a nave or twin naves and perhaps a side chapel. Old Malton was originally aisled with transepts, a central tower at the crossing and twin West End towers. This may reflect the relative wealth of the house, or the layout of a preceding parish church. An account given by William of Newburgh of the deaths of three monks poisoned by carbonic acid gas in the process of burning lime either for mortar or limewash suggests that major building works were still in progress in 1197. Mason’s marks on the piers include those of men who worked on Ripon Cathedral, and while slightly smaller than the cathedral, Old Malton Priory must have been a comparable building.
The Priory following the Dissolution of the Monasteries
Malton Priory was dissolved in December 1539 and the eleven canons then resident in the Priory were pensioned off, about half of them becoming parish clergy in the area. Sometime before the time of the dissolution, the church suffered its first major structural problems. The north-
Dissolution and on into the nineteenth century, the monastic buildings were used as a convenient quarry.
The central tower was taken down in 1636 as it became unsafe, and the church sustained minor damage from cannonballs during the Civil War. The process of quarrying continued and by 1728 most of the monastic buildings were in ruins though the cloister walls were still standing.
By 1733 the south aisle, the chancel and the transepts were all either fallen or demolished as was the north-
Further demolition took place during the late eighteenth century, followed by the addition of a west-
1877 saw the start of major restoration works when the parish was faced with the imminent collapse of the remaining tower. On the advice of Gilbert Scott, a major underpinning operation was undertaken In 1887 the architect Temple Moore supervised restorations in the course of which the floor level was lowered 4 ft to its original level and those pillar basses in the south aisle apparently destroyed by a fire were restored. The east windows were blocked and the baldachino over the altar was put in. New chancel seating was installed incorporating the remaining medieval misericords, together with a new organ, font and altar. All this work is of fine quality, though occasionally as in the case of the font, slightly incongruous.
There are few other remains of the Gilbertine priory, apart from re-