St Mary, Kilburn
Address: Kilburn, YO61 4AH
Parking: Spaces next to the churchyard gate.
Opening: Daily; 10 am – 4 pm or dusk if earlier.
Interior lights: L/H/S by entrance door, L/H/S in bell tower and L/H/S of Chancel.
Wheelchair access: Good; double gate and even path. Two steps onto the chancel.
Refreshments: Forresters Arms, Kilburn, open daily for food, also accommodation: http://www.forrestersarms.com
Market day: Thirsk YO7 1EY; every Monday and Friday; also, farmers market – 4th Saturday of each month in the Auction Mart, YO7 3AB.
Walk: 10.5 miles; for route details; www.walkingenglishman.com/northyorkshire.htm then click onto; Byland Abbey and Sutton Bank.
Information: This small 12th c Norman church is believed to be the oldest building in the district; the tower was added in 1667. It is a small attractive and well-kept place of worship; it has a peel of three (1925); the bell on the floor in the north isle is one of the two originals founded in 1684 at York.
The handsome original Norman chancel arch is similar to that of All Saints Church at near by Helmsley but a less grand, the arcade in the north isle are also of fine appearance. The building backing onto the churchyard is the Mouseman Robert Thompson Workshop and Visitors Centre (www.robertthompsons.co.uk/visitor-centre), whose workmanship is so much in evidence in this part of the world (not to mention, this web site). The chapel in the north isle was refurbished in 1958 and dedicated to Robert Thompson (1876 – 1955). There is plenty of his and his descendants work in this church, including a faldstool in the chancel and the pews in the nave; it is down to the visitor to identify whatever they can with the help of the ubiquitous Mouse.
The font cover is interesting; it is made of oak and is by the craftsman, Martin Dutton who had been apprenticed to Thompson; he signed his work with carved lizard; it was originally made for St Edmonds Church, Gateshead, when it was demolished the cover was gifted to this church in deference to Dutton’s old master.
St Michael’s, Coxwold
Location: Thirsk Bank, Coxwold, YO61 4AD
Parking: Vechicle parking on approach track to the upper churchyard gate, or opposite side of the road, on the cobbles.
Opening Hours: Daily; 9 am – 4 pm or dusk if earlier.
Wheelchair access: Good: Approach from the east, along the unmade double track (parking possible). One step up and two down into the nave and two steps onto the chancel.
Interior Lights: Nave – not found. Chancel – R/H/S.
Refreshments: Coxwold Tea Rooms (also B&B),The School House, YO61 4AD (bottom end of village), Tues-Sun 10–4pm April-Sept. Thurs-Sun 11am -3pm Oct-March: http://www.coxwoldtearooms.co.uk also; Fauconberg Arms near the church; open daily, does food.
Walks: 8.5 miles; for route details: www.yorkshirelife.co.uk/out-about/walks/north_yorks_moors_walk_coxwold_1_1647498
Information: This church occupies a dominant position at the top end of the small but charming village of Coxwold above the plain of York; this building was constructed in 1420 on the site of an earlier Norman church and close to (almost opposite) Shandy Hall, which for a time was the rectory.
It has an unusual octagonal tower; also, it has a novel tongue/horseshoe shaped communion rail which was designed to accommodated more parishioners.
The church contains some very grand monuments, notably that of Fauconberg family who were lords of the manor. The nave ceiling was refurbished in 1904 and is constructed of oak from the near by Newburgh estate. The bosses are original 1420 A.D. some of which are rebuses illustrating the coats of arms of the local wealthy families; the grotesques maybe have been created by the craftsmen to contrast against the landed gentry’s pomposity, interestingly none of the bosses appear to have Christian links. The church contains some fine stained glass; it also has a lectern made by the Mouseman. The pews are all boxed (enclosed to keep out the draughts) and were rented annually by local families.
Anglo-Irish author Laurence Sterne lived at Shandy Hall (last house out of the village on the R/H/S as you drive up the main road), and was for a time, the vicar at St Michael’s; he wrote the first two volumes of ‘Life and Times of Tristram Shandy’ and ‘A Sentimental Journey’ while resident here. His remains are interned by the south wall of the nave (near the porch). Shandy Hall and gardens are open to the public; please see their web site for details; www.laurencesternetrust.org.uk
Also, close by is the beautiful Newburgh Priory and lake at the bottom end of the village, it is well worth a visit and it’s guided tours are recommended, but it is rather limited on its openings to the public; so again, please consult the web for details; www.newburghpriory.co.uk
Should you choose to visit all the places of interest in Coxwold (Cotswolds by appearance) then you need to get your timing right and set aside at less a half day to do it all, it is a well worthwhile excursion. The unfinished pen and ink drawing shown here was being created at the time of this visit by Michael Westmoreland of York.
St Cuthbert’s, Crayke
Location: Coxwold Road, Crayke YO61 4TA
Parking: On the road.
Opening Hours: Daily; 9 am – 4 pm or dusk if earlier.
Wheelchair Access: Enter churchyard from the road (west side) and follow the path around the church.
Interior Lights: Nave – not found. Chancel – R/H/S
Refreshments: Dutch House Visitors Centre, Mill Green Farm, Crayke, YO61 4TT, on the Bransby road, See web site for opening times; www.dutchhouseyorkshire.com (free entry). Also; Durham Ox Inn, food and accommodation, in the centre of the village.
Market day: Easingwold YO61 3AN; every Friday; plus, farmers market, 3rd Wednesday of the month.
Walk: 8.5 miles; for route details go to; www.stillingtonvillage.org/walks/walk3.pdf
Information: The ancient and very attractive village of Crayke is set on a steep hill, the view of the surrounding countryside from the steps leading to this Perpendicular church, is alone, worth the visit, a further fine vista can also be had a short distance up the road at a bench opposite the castle (good spot for a picnic; parking is possible), on a clear day York Minster can be seen. The castle was built for Bishop Neville around 1450 A.D. it was at one time used as a farmhouse, but is now a private residence (do not disturb).
The present church was built around 1436 on the site of an earlier building. Land of a three mile radius had been given to Abbott Cuthbert of Lindisfarne around 685 A.D. on which it is believed a monastery was built, his body is thought to be buried beneath this church, having been relocated by monks in the 9thc when they were driven out of Lindisfarne by the Danes. In recent years the remains of a monastic complex and gatehouse has been found with in the grounds of the castle, it seems likely that this is the same monastery.
The two stone effigies in the south east corner of the nave are that of Sir John Gibson of Welburn and his wife Margaret, they are of the 16thc. The pews, pulpit, tester and font where all installed around 1637; the porch is a later addition,carrying the date 1732.
Church of St Martin, Whenby
Address: Main Street, Whenby, YO61 4SE
Parking: On the road, or along the slip road (track) that passes the phone box and leads to the gate. N.B. The reverse is a little tricky.
Opening times: Daily; 10 am – 5 pm.
Wheelchair access: Possible with a bit of manoeuvring, two uneven steps into the nave.
Interior lights: Inside the bell tower, and R/H/S in the chancel.
Refreshments: None locally, but see ‘Marton in The Forest’ for a brew.
Walk: Easy; 5.2 miles, for details; walkingenglishman.com/northyorkshire
Information: This bonny little church of around 1400 A.D. is built on the site of an earlier place of worship and is constructed largely of sandstone; it is worthwhile viewing this church in the late afternoon, when the low sun gives the building a warm glow. It is long out of use but still open everyday (courtesy of The Churches Conservation Trust – donations welcome).
Many churches of this period would not originally have had any pews and perhaps not even a flagged floor; seating for the congregation was slow to come about, being introduced in Briton over a few centuries and becoming common place by the end of the 16th c (particularly when the Puritans became a spent force).
It has a cast iron safe box in the tower which was used for the storage of valuables; in some cases the parishioners would have been allowed use of it; presumably no holy objects were stored in it, as towers do not stand on consecrated ground. The tower has a peel of three, one of which is from the earlier church. It is thought that there was a place of worship on this site as far back as 1200 A.D. and maybe even earlier.
St Mary’s, Marton in the Forest
Location: Marton cum Moxby, YO61 1NH N.B. This post code is 200 yd s off target; also, not shown on some maps.
Parking: On the road.
Opening Hours: Daily; 9 am – 4 pm.
Wheelchair access : Good; low step up onto the chancel.
Interior lights: Next to nave entrance door, also R/H/S in chancel.
Refreshments: None locally; but see ‘Information’.
Walk: Easy; 3 miles, for route go to; www.stillingtonvillage.org/walks/walk1
Information: This small church has a well-worn and rather humble look about it, blending into the surrounding landscape rather well on a 200ft ridge above the Vale of York; the view from the north side of the building gives a fine aspect of the distant rising Howardian Hills. It was built in 1540 on the site of a number of earlier churches, largely of stone taken from nearby Marton Abbey on the River Foss, which like all abbeys had been dissolved.
There is a welcoming and friendly feel to this very well kept place of worship; remarkably, you can make yourself a cup of tea here (possibly unique), but please, remember to leave a contribution. The chancel has a wooden construction barrel vaulted ceiling which looks the part, the octagonal stemmed baptismal font was identified by John Betjeman as 13th c and was designed for full immersion. A marble slab set into the floor at the chancel step is believed to have been an altar table top taken from Marton Abbey.
Although this little church does not offer any great architectural surprises, it does possess a certain stubbornness that seems to care little for the harsher elements that it has to endure, this in turn has given it rather strange appeal. Unusually, it holds Celtic services twice a month, on the first and third Sundays of the month at 6pm.