A twelfth century church set upon a hillside overlooking both the town and the bay, St. Oswald’s has been at the centre of Filey life for 900 years. The earliest known works commenced on the site in 1180 and the church was substantially complete by 1230.
This ancient place of worship is dedicated to St. Oswald, King of Northumbria. One of the founders of Christianity in the north. At its zenith the Kingdom of Northumbria stretched from the River Humber to Edinburgh, essentially most of modern day northern England and a large part of southern Scotland. Oswald was referred to in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as being at one point the ‘Bretwalda’ or Emperor of Britain. Oswald fought his southern rivals, the pagan Mercians at a battle thought to be near Oswestry in 641. Oswald was killed during this battle and soon after his death he became St Oswald.
The Church Ravine that separates the town from its church is the boundary between the East and North Riding’s of Yorkshire. Hence the phrase ‘it’ll not be long before he’s in the North Riding’ (i.e. the graveyard), if a Filonian was seriously ill.
In the nineteenth century St Oswald’s Church was restored, the results were mixed, while the fabric of the church ensured its future, some ancient features were lost. A fire in 1908 destroyed the organ and the present day version dates from this time.
Between 10.30am and 12.30am the church is manned by volunteers and on most days visitors are more than welcome to enjoy the church. The graveyard has over a thousand burials and some of the gravestones are fascinating windows into past lives and livelihoods.