The Lastingham Group of Churches

Lastingham, Hutton-le-Hole, Appleton-le-Moors, Rosedale & Cropton


      York  35 miles   ·   London  242 miles

Lindisfarne 126   ·   Canterbury 310   ·    Rome ~1140   ·   Constantinople ~1570   ·   Jerusalem ~2290    

Whitby  28   ·  Scarborough 23   ·   Pickering 7   ·   Kirkbymoorside 5


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Today we hear a lot about 'apologizing' for our past: the crusades, slavery, the holocaust, the colonization of Africa and so forth. 

Whether we believe in this or not, we know that our present is built on things that have happened in the past - for good or ill.   

Kate Fox in her book, Watching the English: the Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, suggests that England is one of the least religious nations in the world - and that the Church of England is the least religious church!  Why might this be? 

During Lent 2007 an exercise was held in each of our five village churches, called History & Prayer. It consisted of a mini workshop on the history of the church, lasting about 20 minutes, followed by Compline.  After surveying the history (such as we knew it), we imagined, in Compline, that we were joining with everyone who had ever worshipped in that particular church.  What would they have felt reading the same psalms and prayers?  

This was intended, first, as an exercise in exploring our past, and developing an understanding and compassion towards our predecessors – the assumptions they made and the difficulties they may have faced.  

But more than this.  We would be praying with, and therefore surely also for, our Christian ancestors.  Not so much apologizing for the past, but forgiving it, and so helping to release long-trapped energies.           

For each village we report the main things mentioned.  The list is of course little more than a preliminary brainstorming, and it is hoped that there will be further occasions in which the points may be looked at in greater depth.

The churches are given in the order in which we visited them.    

R O S E D A L E  A B B E Y

w         Life in a small medieval priory such as Rosedale. 

w         The role of the nuns in the community.

w         The sadness of the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the late 1530s.

w         The industrial revolution, in which the ‘dark satanic mills’, or at least mines, reached Rosedale.

w         Life on the Rosedale railways.

w         Living conditions for families in the Dale. 

w         The large number of men recorded on the church plaque as killed in action in the 1914-18 war, as a reminder of the War and also the still large population of Rosedale in the second decade of the 19th century.  

w         The decline of the mining industry in the 1920s. 

w         Life in the Dale today.

 C R O P T O N

w         The divisions of the parish system locally. Cropton was until 1986 part of Middleton Parish, which also took in Rosedale Village and Rosedale East. The River Severn was the boundary, and the next parish, to the West, was Lastingham. This took in Lastingham, Hutton, Appleton, Rosdale West and Farndale East, as far as the River Dove.   

w         We mustn’t assume there will never be conflict. The dispute in the 1980s over the proceeds of the sale of a chalice, in which the Consistory Court (i.e. the Church’s special court) gave judgement between Cropton and Middleton, is an example.

H U T T O N - L E - H O L E

w         The various ‘non-conformist’ churches of the area. The large number of Methodist chapels that grew up at the heyday of the local mining industry.

w         The changed face of the countryside and the nature of the village ‘communities’ within them.

A P P L E T O N - L E - M O O R S

Christ Church, built by the Shepherd family, was consecrated in 1866, which was near the zenith of Victorian confidence. In relation  to that era, where are we now?  

w         A glance through the attendance figures from the 1940s throws doubt on the idea of a golden age when everyone went to church.

w         The social structure of rural Victorian England – rather strange to us


w         The idea of Lastingham as an ancient, and probably pre-Christian, ‘holy place.’  The current challenge to back this view with evidence, both before and after the foundation of Lastingham Abbey by St Cedd in ad 654. 

w         The many major changes to the building since the time of St Cedd – at least nine.

w         The involvement of two Lastingham residents in the Pilgrimage of Grace of 1536, and their subsequent execution under Henry VIII.  

w         At the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII, in the case of St Mary's Abbey in York, which had controlled the church in Lastingham, an administrative mix-up between Spaunton (Manor) and Lastingham (the Church's land).

w         Along with no doubt countless other rural churches, we have documentary evidence of low morale in the church in the year 1559.

w         The general neglect within the Church of  England during the 18th century, and how it seems to have affected Lastingham, with three mainly absentee vicars!  

w         The Pearson restoration of 1879.

w         Holy sites in general: some blessings, challenges and responsibilities.

       Go to Lastingham Church Guide 



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