Benefice Churches

Within our Beautiful BENEFICE there are Five Church Buildings 
Together we make one Church

                                      St Mary's Church in Lastingham
is situated on the site of a monastery founded in AD 654. 

Lastingham has been a centre of Worship and devotion since the 7th Century. As we welcome you to this ancient and beautiful church, we hope that you will share with us the joyous sense of peace and enjoy the heritage of centauries of Christianity in this church where, in the words of the hymn: "Brothers we are treading where the saints have trod".


The church looks over the small village of Lastingham, nestling in the southern folds of the North York Moors. A popular village for tourists, sadly we have no shop now but we do have an exellent pub in The Blacksmith's Arms. The Village School was built in 1885 by the Darley family, in memory of Harriet Louisa, wife of Henry Brewster Darley, then Lord of the Manor. One of their daughters married Dr Sydney Ringer, who was later to oversee the restoration of the church. The school closed in the 1930's, but was re-opened for children who were evacuated from places like Hull and Middlesbrorugh during the second World War. Some of those children stayed in the area and married into local families. In 1948 the building was given to the village to use as a village hall on a 99 year lease for which we pay a 'peppercorn rent'. 

The Darley Memorial Hall, as it is known by, is used for village meetings, social and fundraising events for both the church and the village hall. In 2015 money was raised through events and we were delighted to receive a grant from the Heritage Lottery to install a disabled access to the Hall as well as a new toilet. A managemnent committee of trustees looks after the day to day running and maintenance of the hall, whilst a village team of volunteers look after the grasscutting. 


The church records go back to around 1557. Most have been transcribed where possible. We have a database of burials from that time up to the present day. A recent project has documented all the gravestones with photographs also making use of the Memorial Inscriptions written up by a local lady in 1989, we were able to match the graves to those inscriptions. Sadly, many of the inscriptions are now impossible to read, so we are most gratefuil for the work that was put in to record these back in 1989. These are now on file for anyone searching for family members. Contact Andie at   

This is the grave of little Annie Ringer 1869-1875, who died on her 7th birthday. Her parents Dr Sydney & Ann Ringer managed the major restoration of the church in the1870's in memory of their daughter. Ann Ringer was the daughter of Henry Brewster Darley, Lord of the Manor, they married in 1867. The 5 windows in the apse are all in memory of Annie, by various members of the family. These have recently been conserved by the York Glaziers. This project was jointly funded by the PCC and the Friends of Lastingham Church. 


We have researched the 4 men on the War Memorial who gave their lives in WW1. The men on the Roll of Honour have also been researched. 

This is the grave of the Shepherd family of Appleton le Moors. This family built the church in Appleton-le-Moors.

There are also several memorials plaques inside the church of the Shepherds of Dowthwaitedale. 


                                            St Chad's Church in Hutton le Hole
is a Chapel of Ease to St Mary's in Lastingham.

The village of Hutton-le-Hole is part of the ancient parish of Lastingham, and St Chad’s Church is a daughter church (known as a chapel-of-ease) of St Mary’s at Lastingham. It is under the care of the Vicar and Parochial Church Council of Lastingham.
Records show that at the end of the nineteenth century services were being held in the village schoolroom. In 1901 a disused Congregationalist chapel, known as Zion Chapel, next to the site of the present church, was purchased by the Parish, and this building was dedicated to St Chad. In 1934 this was replaced by the present building, and dedicated once again to St Chad.
Who was St Chad? Chad was one of the three brothers of St Cedd from Lindisfarne who in 654 founded Lastingham Church as a Celtic Monastery. After Cedd’s death in 664, Chad became Abbot of Lastingham. He was later consecrated Bishop of Lichfield. His feast day is 2nd March. 
Special features of the building include: a wooden altar with stone mensa a lovely oak reredos from Welburn Hall altar rails made by Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson of oak from Douthwaite Hall a Font and Lectern from Ryton Church; pews from All Saints, Kirkbymoorside some good post-war stained glass in the sanctuary, depicting to the north St Chad, and to the south the Crucifixion and the Annunciation; a good one-manual organ built in the 1860s, with seven speaking stops. It came from a Methodist Chapel in Scarborough, but originally was probably a chamber organ in a private house. the stone carved cross from above the door of the old Zion Chapel, incorporated into the north boundary wall.

Christ Church in Appleton le Moors 

Christ Church was built in the 19th century to the highly detailed internal and external design of the celebrated architect J. L. Pearson. It remains to this day substantially as designed and built. Pearson built many other churches throughout the country, including Truro Cathedral, and was also responsible for the extensive restoration of Lastingham Church in 1879.
Pearson was a spiritual man, and he poured much of his faith into his design – as can be seen by a study of Christ Church, which was dubbed by Archbishop Thompson ‘this little gem of moorland churches.’ In John Betjeman’s English Parish Churches it is described by the architect George Pace as follows:
A church finely conceived within and without by J. L. Pearson, the almost detached tower and spire and the apsidal chancel being its highlights.The building is a solid stone structure of mainly local materials, except for the external shafts of the openings which are of red Mansfield stone. Coloured stones, especially Rosedale ironstone, are used in bands and patterns with good effect. It consists of nave, aisles, and chancel with an apsidal east end, suggested perhaps by that of the mother church at Lastingham. An unusual feature is a narthex as a West porch opening into the church by two doors, between which stands the Caenstone font. On either side of the doors are two blocks of miniature pews for children, having been welcomed into the family of the church when baptised in the font, moving here for the next stage of their journey of faith. Sunday School was taken in these pews; from there they moved to the nave, and then on, up towards the chancel and the altar rail, the place of full communion. The placing of the font and these pews is highly symbolic, and Christ Church is a rarity in retaining the original features in situ.
There is a chapel at the east end of the north aisle, which was never finished but possibly intended to receive an altar-tomb with a recumbent effigy of Joseph Shepherd.There is a tower surmounted by a spire 90 feet high, in an unusual position at the east end of the south aisle. It contains a fine peal of six bells by Mears and Stainbank (now the Whitechapel Bell Foundry), currently in need of restoration. The clock is by Smiths of Clerkenwell (labelled Boxell of Brighton), and was provided by public subscription in 1870. The church was built by Appleton craftsmen: Messrs Smith, builders, and Messrs Tomlinson, joiners. The organ is by Forster & Andrews and dates from 1866.

St Mary & St Lawrence in Rosedale Abbey 
Where is the Abbey?

This is a question many people ask when they come to Rosedale; the abbey doesn’t seem to exist. The truth is that there really was an abbey – or rather a nuns’ priory - and if you were reading this in the church, then you would actually be standing in the area that was the ancient priory chapel.
The Parish Church of St Mary & St Lawrence was built on the foundations of the priory chapel, and if you look carefully, you will see signs of the old building.
Walk up to the altar rail, look on the floor on the left, and you will see a memorial tablet inscribed with a cross above which the name MARIA (one of the nuns) is just visible. If you look to the other side of the rail, you will see one of the old stone seats from the abbey; this is now the bishop’s chair
What would the Abbey have looked like?
Rosedale Priory was probably founded by William of Rosedale in 1154, under the Benedictine Order.  It was never a large community, having about nine nuns in the care of a prioress. It’s possible that small nunneries like Rosedale were a sort of school for the unmarried daughters of the well-to-do.
The only visible ruin of the Abbey itself is the turret in the garden outside the west door of the present church. This turret probably led from the nave of the chapel up to a dormitory.  The present school and its playground occupy part of the space on which the cloister would have been.
The Priory was dissolved in 1536. Much of the buildings remained until the mid -19th century, when the expansion of the mining industry meant that there was a great demand for houses. Unfortunately, the stone was taken to build the houses that now make up the village, so Rosedale Abbey is the right name, since most of the abbey now forms the present village.  Identifiable fragments can be spotted here and there. You can see some window jambs used as gate posts in the lane by the Milburn Arms, and a local builder has shown us a winding stair tread re-used as a roof-coping ‘kneeler’ on a cottage.

The Parish Church
When the valley began to expand in the early nineteenth century, there was a need for a new parish church. In 1839 the old Priory chapel was pulled down and a larger church built on much the same site. The whole cost of £665 was met by public subscription. If you look at the panels on the wall beneath the gallery in the church, you will see recorded every subscription down to the last widow’s mite.
In 1879 the Parish of Rosedale was created and a vicar appointed. Up until then the west side of Rosedale belonged to Lastingham Parish and the east side to Middleton.

The Present Church
The mines have long since closed, but many people now visit the area. Rosedale has begun to expand again and the church has been renewed and restored.
In the 1970s the sanctuary area has been extended and two side vestries provided. The plaster was taken off the walls to reveal rough but beautiful stone. The floor was replaced and the pews re-positioned to provide a central aisle. These pews were the work of Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson of Kilburn and date from his early years before the famous mouse appeared on all his work. The restoration was completed in the 1980s by the placing of a screen to divide the church and create a space at the back which is used for meetings and Sunday school. In 1984 Rosedale was made part of the United Benefice of Lastingham, which now includes the ecclesiastical parishes of Lastingham, Appleton-le-Moors, Rosedale and Cropton

St Gregory's Church Cropton
The name ‘Cropton’ comes from Anglo-Saxon roots meaning ‘hill top settlement’

The church is dedicated to St Gregory the Great. It stands to the east of Castle Hill. Formerly, it was a chapel of ease within the Parish of Middleton. In 1986 Cropton with Cawthorne became a new parish and a member of the United Benefice of Lastingham, joining Appleton-Le Moors, Rosedale and Hutton-le-Hole.
There is no known record of when the original church was built.
The plain circular font is probably Norman and possibly in the Saxon tradition. A chaplain, who may also have served the castle, was attached to the church in the 14th century. It is known that in the late 18th century the building was given a slate roof, after alterations which included the addition of the south facing porch.
During the 1840’s the church was severely damaged by fire and rebuilt between 1844 and 1855. Some of the materials of the original church were reused; some were sold off. An apsidal sanctuary was added also, a bellcote with two small bells was provided in the west gable.

St Gregory’s continues today as a traditional village church, much cherished and cared for by the community.




Page last updated: 15th September 2021 2:43 PM