Church Lane, Skelton-in-Cleveland, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, TS12 2HQ
Pirates' graves surrounding a Georgian church
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This secluded Georgian church, is set in parkland with views to Skelton Castle.
Pirates’ graves with skull-and-crossbone motifs mingle with wild cherry and garlic in the churchyard.
The church was mostly rebuilt in 1785 and probably two previous churches were sited there. Pulpit, box pews and other furnishings seem to date from the rebuilding, with slightly earlier text boards and some older monuments on a remaining Medieval wall.
The herringbone tooling of the outside stonework gives the church a strong local feel, in contrast to the 'Venetian' east window and the dark rose colouring of the interior.
Opening times on the CCT website
Newby Hall, Skelton-cum-Newby, Ripon, HG4 5AE
A church built with unpaid ransom money.
With its colourful and vibrant interior, this Victorian church seems the very celebration of life, yet it stands as a testament to tragedy.
It is a memorial to Frederick Vyner who, age 23, was captured and murdered by brigands in Greece in 1870. His mother used the money collected for his ransom to commission British architect William Burges –- celebrated for decorating Westminster Palace and rebuilding Cardiff Castle -– to design this church (built 1871-76) in the grounds of her home at Newby Hall.
Standing inside the gates of the park, and surrounded by huge beech trees, the outside is impressive, with its lofty spire, pinnacles and fine rose window. The design is based on Medieval French church architecture, but with Burges’'s unique interpretation.
A little dog keeps the gargoyles company -– a sweetly domestic touch in this magnificent monument to a lost son. Every detail here repays attention. Burges employed the best craftsmen of the day to work here, and everywhere you look there are examples of their skill.
The interior is wonderfully rich and colourful - pattern and colour are everywhere, with stained glass, fine marble and gilded mosaics filling the interior. Exquisite carvings on the corbels and on the organ case bring stone and wood to life, while in the rose window, Christ the Consoler presides.
Everything is on a magnificent scale; the effect is almost overwhelming. And yet, for all its splendour, you cannot forget the tragic circumstances out of which this church was built.
The best time to visit is on your way in to Newby Hall.
Low Lane, Wensley, Leyburn, DL8 4HX
Intriguing glimpses of history in a beautiful parish church
Built on 8th-century Saxon foundations, this 13th-century church sits on the bank of the river Ure at the eastern end of picturesque Wensleydale.
Inside, its rich history is all around, with good examples of Medieval wallpaintings, fine Flemish brasses and a 15th-century reliquary, which is claimed to have once held the relics of St Agatha.
Sit and marvel at the sumptuous richness of the Scrope family pew (who were local landowners) and imagine life as the Lord or Lady of nearby Bolton Castle.
70 Goodramgate, York, YO1 7LF
A glimpse of the Medieval world behind a busy street.
Holy Trinity Goodramgate has the air of a hidden treasure. It stands in a small, secluded, leafy churchyard, with the Minster towering behind, tucked away behind Goodramgate - one of York’s busiest shopping streets. To visit, you pass through an 18th-century archway tacked on to buildings that served as artisans’ workshops in the 14th century.
The church itself is full of character. The floors and arcades are charmingly uneven. Light filters through the windows, illuminating honey-coloured stone. The east window especially has marvellous stained glass that was donated in the early 1470s by the Reverend John Walker, rector of the church. On sunny days, transient gems of coloured light are scattered on the walls, and various Medieval faces stare out from the windows.
The building dates chiefly from the 15th century, but has features from its foundation in the 12th century right up to the 19th century. The box pews, unique in York, are exceptionally fine, and an interesting collection of monuments and memorials paint a picture of life in this busy city throughout the ages.
Two boards, with heads shaped like grandfather clocks, record the names of Lord Mayors of the city, including George Hudson, The Railway King’, who made York a major railway centre in the 19th century.
Outdoor benches make the churchyard the perfect place for reflection, offering a welcome retreat from the hectic world outside.
Church Lane, Wintringham, Malton, YO17 8HU
A peaceful church that hides green men and mythical beasts
This beautiful and peaceful church, with an elegant spire, was built from the Norman period to the 15th-century.
The oldest part of the church is the Norman chancel with its priest’s door and corbel table; the nave and west tower are of the 14th-century, although externally the tower has crenellated parapets and Perpendicular tracery of the 15th-century.
The graveyard is filled with 18th and 19th-century monuments to the former inhabitants of this sleepy village.
The church is full of interesting furnishings including Jacobean bench pews, Medieval carvings and stained glass. Look carefully and you might also find green men, mythical beasts and sword markings...
Robin Hood's Bay, Fylingdales, Whitby, YO22 4PN
A fishermen's church overlooking the sea.
Likened to an old mariner gazing out to sea, St Stephen's stands majestically on the hillside between Whitby and Ravenscar, overlooking Robin Hood’s Bay. Built in 1821, its appearance can be severe but the church resonates with the history of a resilient North Sea fishing community.
Inside, painted box pews, a full-length gallery and a three-decker pulpit, designed for the preaching of the Word, have all survived. The sea is a recurring theme throughout and there are memorials to the shipwrecked in both the church and churchyard. Successful lifeboat rescue missions are listed and there is also a touching display of rare maiden’s garlands’ – 'crowns’ used in the funeral processions of young - and chaste - women.
Outside, windswpet gravestones huddle tightly round the church walls. Some recall tragedies: strangers who drowned on the coast or locals whose lives were cruelly claimed by the sea.
Main Street, Wentworth, Rotherham, S62 7TX
An old estate church rooted in village history. One of our top 20 gems.
This atmospheric, partly ruined building started life as a church in the 15th century but was converted to a mausoleum in 1877 after a new church was commissioned. Today, only the chancel and north chapel remain intact.
In the chancel, brass and stone memorials and alabaster effigies from the 16th and 17th centuries trace the powerful Wentworth family, These include one to the Earl of Strafford, a supporter of the Crown who was beheaded on Tower Hill just before the Civil War, and Charles Watson-Wentworth, the 2nd Marquis of Rockingham, who helped to negotiate an end to the American War of Independence.
Wentworth estate workers and villagers rest in the churchyard, including the 17-year-old Chow Kwang Tseay from China, baptised John Dennis Blonde. He was thought to have been rescued from HMS Blonde’ and brought to Rotherham in 1847 as a 14-year-old.
Harewood Park, Harewood, Leeds, LS17 9LG
A fashion parade of remarkable alabaster effigies
Nestling in the grounds of Harewood House, All Saints' dates from the 15th century. It is remarkable for six pairs of effigies, dating from 1419 to 1510, commemorating the owners of Harewood and the nearby Gawthorpe estate. They are some of the greatest surviving examples of alabaster carving – virtually without rival in England – and offer a fascinating glimpse into the amour, robes, jewellery and headdresses of the day.
The earliest depicts the fearless judge William Gascoigne in the robes of the Lord Chief Justice with a finely carved purse on one side and a dagger on the other, while his wife wears a square head-dress and rests her feet on a little dog.
The latest –- of Edward Redman –- is thought to be a true likeness of the man, rare in Medieval times. At his feet is a tiny but perfectly carved figure of a bedesman who is shown saying prayers for the soul of the departed.
The church was restored in 1862-63 by Sir George Gilbert Scott, designer of St Pancras Station, the Albert Memorial and many churches. The interior has an unadorned simplicity and there is a fine west window.
23 New Briggate, Leeds, LS2 8JD
The oldest church in Leeds filled with magnificent carvings from floor to ceiling
St John’s is the oldest church in Leeds city centre. It was built in 1632-34, a turbulent time in England when very few new churches were constructed. The glory of the church lies in its magnificent Jacobean (Carolian) fittings, particularly the superb carved wooden screen.
Every part of the screen is richly decorated with flowers (including tulips), hearts, twisting vines, and grotesque heads of humans and animals.There is more lovely carving on the wall panels, pews and pulpit. Brightly painted angels play instruments in the roof and look down on wonderful carved pews below.
The church building was entirely funded by wealthy merchant and Royalist John Harrison who also paid for the grammar school and almshouses nearby. Harrison'’s benevolent spirit still pervades the church – he is buried near the altar, and a series of stained-glass windows depicts his good works. One of the windows shows an apocryphal tale in which Harrison presents King Charles, imprisoned in Leeds, with a tankard of gold coins disguised as a draught of ale.
Other monuments around the church commemorate the citizens of Leeds throughout the centuries, and emphasise the importance of the wool industry to the city’'s prosperity.
In the mid-19th century, the parish wanted to demolish the building and rebuild a more convenient modern church. The young architect Norman Shaw led an outcry against this, joined by the eminent architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. Happily, they prevailed and Shaw was responsible for the ensuing restoration, very much in the original style of the building.
The church now hosts regular events throughout the year- check our website for more details.
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