Historical Overview


Christianity was brought to Britain in the time of the Romans.  When the Romans left, invading pagan Jutes, Saxons and Angles drove Christianity out to the remoter regions, where it survived until Irish missionaries reintroduced the faith to England, via Iona and then Lindisfarne.  They established a number of monasteries for prayer, worship and teaching. One such monastery was founded here in AD 654, by St Cedd, ten years before the Synod of Whitby.

Whilst the first monastery church in Lastingham was almost certainly wooden, it is known that a stone church was built on this site in 725.  However, the earliest parts of the current church, including the crypt, date from 1078.

A parish church since at least 1228, St Mary’s is famous for is unique apsidal crypt. The crypt was built possibly on or near the vicinity of the earlier 7th century structure and is thought to be part of the huge Benedictine Abbey planned by Stephen of Whitby in 1078.  Evidence of this proposed abbey can be seen throughout the church structure.  But sadly it was never completed, as Stephen abandoned the project, went to York and built St Mary’s Abbey there instead.

A major restoration was carried out in 1879 under the guidance of the eminent Victorian architect, JL Pearson RA, and the transverse arches and magnificent stone vaulted roof date from then.



Page last updated: Wednesday 2nd August 2023 4:05 PM
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