St Wilfrids, Burnsall



Address:                     Main Street, Burnsall, BD23 6BP

Parking:                      On road (take care; junior school next door), or car park by village green.

Opening times:         Daily; 9 am – 5 pm or dusk if earlier.

Wheelchair access:  Good; take care at the lychgate (see info).

Toilet:                          Disability toilet (opposite the nave entrance door).

Interior lights:          L/H/S of nave door.

Refreshments:          Wharfe View Café on the village green;   The Red Lion Inn, open all day for food, also accommodation;  also, The Craven Arms at Appletreewick, food 12 – 8.30 pm

Walk:                           Easy; 6.8 miles; this walk takes in St Michael and all Angels at Linton, for the route go to;…/Burnsall

Information:             This is a very popular dales destination with day trippers, so it is best avoided at weekends and bank holidays.  Just a short distance from the River Wharfe, this well cared for church has plenty to offer.

Entrance into the churchyard is through a rather wonderful revolving lychgate of the late 17th c which is operated by pulleys and weights; just lift the latch and push for it to revolve on it’s central pivot, this rare example is one of only a few known functioning revolving gates in the country.  The original purpose of the lychgate was to prove shelter from the elements at the start of a funeral, the coffin and mourners would await the arrival of the rector, who would then begin the service by leading the procession into the church.

The church is dedicated to St Wilfrid (634 -709AD) who baptised converts in the nearby River Wharfe. There is evidence for a Saxon place of worship  on this site by at least 875 AD and there is a permanent display of Danish crosses and a tomb cover just inside the church entrance. Remains also of a Norman stone church  (post 1066) include the font, a window arch, holy water stoop and rams’ head corbel in the south aisle Lady Chapel where there is also a C 13th window. During the time of Henry VIII (1509-1546) the church underwent major construction which included the tower and western portion. The Clock is a national treasure dating back originally to 1649 and being adapted in the early 1800’s. There are also six bells dating back to 1704 which are still rung today.

The attractive early seventeenth century building next to the church is a junior school, but originally was the grammar school; it was built in 1601 by Sir William Craven who was born in near by Appletreewick (worth a visit); he had gone to London as a young man to seek his fortune and had become very successful, but not forgetting his roots, he returned to establish this school, he also paid for the building of Burnsall bridge; eventually he became Mayor of London in 1611.  He retired back in Appletreewick (locally pronounced, ‘Aptrick’), living in the Hall at the top end of the village, also there is the St John the Baptist Chapel, which was originally two cottages belonging to William Craven, they were converted to become the chapel in 1898, for further details please go to the following link:

Excellent printed guides are available near the nave entrance door that give a comprehensive tour of the church.

St Michael and all Angels, Linton



Address:                     Church Road, Linton-in-Craven, BD23 6BQ. N.B. The church is located by the River Wharfe (not in the village), look out for the brown road sign posts.

Parking:                      Church parking area next to the gate (free).

Opening times:         Daily; 9 am – 4 pm or dusk if earlier.

Wheelchair access:  Good; wide gate and path, no steps.

Hearing loop:            Yes.

Interior lights:          Automatic throughout the church.

Refreshments:          The Fountaine Inn, in Linton village, food from 12pm; or Grassington.

Market day:                Grassington BD23 5AD; farmers market, 3rd Sunday of the month.

Walk:                           See St Wilfrids, Burnsall.

Information:             This attractive medieval church is built on the site of a Pagan place of worship which was Christianised around 700 A.D.  The building you see today was built in 1150 A.D.  It is estimated that up to 10,000 people are buried in the large churchyard; also here, is the base and supporting stones of a Saxon cross, probably 7th or 8th c; the cross shaft is a medieval replacement.

One of the 14th c chancel roof bosses is that of the Pagan, Green Man, a symbol of nature which has quite rightly been adopted by Christianity, further information can be found on;  The rather quaint bell-cote was restored in 1861 and gives great character to the outward appearance of this church.        The small west window is particularly beautiful shortly before sunset on clear days when the bright light brings it to life.

It is rumoured that this church has the ghost of a monk from a nearby demolished abbey, who enters the church by the long since blocked off north door which was opposite the nave entrance.  North doors were also known as the devil’s door and were opened during christenings to allow evil spirits to escape; they where ordered to be blocked off in the 13th c by Pope Innocent III, who regarded the practice as superstition; many of these doors survived the instruction.

During the preceding centuries, if a church had been built on the site of a Pagan place of worship, a north door would be installed to allow followers of the earlier faith access to the church for their own ceremonies, it is a surprising cooperation and clearly showed respect and sympathy for the old ways; it was also the entrance door used by Christian converts, hence, even today, this side of a church is still sometimes referred to as the heathen north side (the literal meaning of ‘heathen’ is – non Christian or Jewish).  In 601 AD Pope Gregory ordered that Pagan places of worship not to be destroyed but be converted into Christian churches.

Information leaflets are available near the entrance door.

There is a lovely, easy walk of 6.7 miles between here and Burnsall (there and back).


St Michael and All Saints, Hubberholme

Hubberholme church, by Marie Hartley


Address:                     Hubberholme BD23 5JE (George Inn post code).

Parking:                      Outside the churchyard gate.

Opening times:         Daily; 9 am – 4 pm or dusk if earlier.

Wheelchair access:  Good; wide gate into the churchyard; uneven flagstones to nave door.

Hearing loop:            Yes.

Interior lights:          Automatic.

Refreshments:         The George Inn (used to be the vicarage), open spring and summer only.

Walk: Easy;                6.9 miles;…/BuckdentoYockenthwaite

Information:            The typical humble dales appearance of this church at very top end of Wharfedale is deceiving; the interior is beautifully appointed and rich in detail, it is also very well kept.

Built on an Anglo-Norse burial site, this church was originally a forest chapel; it has the year 1696 carved above the entrance porch but it is in fact mostly 12th c.

It’s fine looking but incomplete rood loft above the chancel was made by the carpenter, William Jake for Coverham Abbey which was dissolved in 1536, subsequently, the loft was installed here in 1558; it is a rare survivor.  Rood lofts were used to accommodate musicians, singers and chanters, but such practices where frowned upon during the Reformation; the Puritans considered anything decorative or distracting, such as the display of icons, use of bright colours, or indeed, anything that might be considered entertaining to be unnecessary and frivolous, so consequently they were banned.

The altar stone in the Lady Chapel was for a time relegated to the bar serving top in near by pub ‘The George’ (reason, not known) , but is now back too serving it’s original purpose. There are plenty of Mouseman furnishings here, the choir stalls and nave pews were made in 1934 for this church.

This hidden away spot was described (and is much quoted), by J.B.Priestley as “one of the smallest and most pleasant places in the world’’, and it is of course still true.  The farm next door is not ‘chocolate box’ in appearance and is perhaps a good reminder that this is still a harsh and hard, working environment.

The most picturesque drive from here to Coverham and Wensley is to take the minor Coverdale road from Kettlewell.  Note; it is very narrow and steep in places, but it is a wonderful experience for the passenger and recommended (but not for the driver).


Holy Trinity, Coverham



Address:                     Coverham, DL8 4RN

Parking:                      On the roadside by the Lychgate.

Opening times:         Daily; 9 am – 4 pm or dusk if earlier.

Wheelchair access:  Good; with a little care; – 50 yd s of concrete footpath and 60 yd s of grassed and uneven footpath; also, one low step into the nave and one onto the Chancel.

Interior lights:          None; no power.

Refreshments:          Non locally; nearest, Middleham and Leyburn.

Market day:                Leyburn DL8 5BJ; every Friday; plus, farmers market – 4th Saturday each month.

Walk:                           See Holy Trinity Church, Wensley.

Information:           This is a 13th c church with a 16th c west tower; many of the fittings are part of a rather questionable Victorian restoration, including the tiles.  It has a peel of three bells (non functioning); one cast in 1632 and two in 1770 by The Whitechapel Foundry.

In 1212 A.D. Ranulf Fitz established an abbey for Premonstratensian monks here, (also known as the White Cannons, and so much easier to pronounce); it was closed in 1536 during the dissolution when it was left to fall into ruin.  However, the original gatehouse survives and has been incorporated into Coverham Abbey House (private residence).  There are many artefacts preserved there, including several tombs covers; some with carved effigies of knights dating from the 14th c, please note – it is not open to the public, but the building can be seen from the churchyard looking east.

Although this now redundant medieval church is rather neglected, it does have plenty of character, it’s sandstone arches have a warmth to them and the Victorian tiles in the sanctuary and on the south east nave wall (once a chapel, hence the Piscina) give a real blast of colour, but they are perhaps, some what incongruous; also, the chancel walls have lost their original plaster, having been re-pointed during the Victorian restoration; they now have a more rustic feel; careful inspection of the south wall behind the choir stalls reveals the remains of the original plaster and it’s decoration.  Simply designed stained glass is also plentiful and adds still further to the colours.

J.M.W.Turner visited Coverham during his 1816 tour of Yorkshire and made a number of illustrations in the area which were printed in the book ‘A General History of the County of York’ by the Rev.T.D.Whittaker.  The beautiful setting alone is more than enough reason to visit this hidden away spot of the dales.

Not far from here is English Heritage’s splendid Middleham Castle (DL8 4QG); it was the childhood home of King Richard III and was a royal household during his reign; it is certainly worthy of a visit, as is the town. For details go to:


Holy Trinity, Wensley



Address:                      Low Lane, Wensley, Leyburn, DL8 4HX

Parking:                      On the road.

Opening times:         Daily; winter; 9 am – 4 pm, summer; 9 am – 6 pm.

Wheelchair access:  No, (judge for yourself); three uneven downward steps into the nave.

Interior lights:          L/H/S Inside porch, rear of nave on R/H/S of organ and R/H/S in chancel.

Refreshments:          Three Horse Shoes Pub, (nice): Food; Mon – Sun, 12pm till 2.30pm:

Walk:                           7.5 miles (easy); for route go to;

Information:             This hansom church was built on 8th c Saxon foundations around 1240 A.D. during the rule of Henry III; it had a major rebuild in the 14th c with additions from 15th to 18th c; please see the Church Conservation Trust leaflets for more details; they are available by the north nave door.

There is a two storey vestry (not accessible) to the north of the chancel, the upper floor being used as the priest’s lodgings.  In the centre of the nave isle and set into the floor is a large blue Ledger Stone (commemorative slab) from the 15th c; these stones are not uncommon and have traditionally been used to place the coffin on during funeral services; two brothers named Cledrow, who both served rectors here are buried beneath this one. The two faint paintings on the north wall are of the 14th c, and were revealed during a 1927 restoration.

Near by is a wooden reliquary which was taken from Easby Abbey; it was used for storing holy relics and is believed to have once held the bones of St Agatha.  The grand enclosed pew in the north isle was installed in the 15th c by lord Scrope of Bolton Castle, story has it, that it is a double so that he could accommodate both his wife and his mistress.  It is constructed of red pine in the Jacobean (Italian) style; the finely made oak screen that surrounds it is believed to be another object purloined from Easby Abbey.  By contrast, against the west wall and next to the organ is the gardeners or servants pew, it is so located to allow entry to the church from the south door, in doing so it ensured that the hoi polloi did not mix with the local dignitaries.

Unusually, the main entrance to the nave is in the north wall (commonly the south) as that is the village side.  Wensley was a major gathering place for the dale until the advent of the Black Death, when it lost it’s market place status to Leyburn.  

A short distance from here is Bolton Castle which is open to the public – http://www.boltoncastle   This very attractive village is still part of the Bolton Castle estate.

For the more energetic, the walk suggested here is lovely, and takes in the church at Coverham.