CROPTON ST GREGORY
The name ‘Cropton’ comes from
Anglo-Saxon roots meaning ‘hill-top settlement.' The village
stands on the edge of the northwest-facing scarp of the Tabular Hills,
above the valley of the River Seven. Cropton is recorded in the Domesday
Book. The wide village street will date from earliest times, when it was
an area of common grazing to be shared by the houses on either side.
the church and to the west are the remains of a Norman castle. A couple
of miles to the north-east
are the remains of Cawthorn Roman camps, which appear to have been used
for military manoeuvres and training. Part of a Roman road can be traced
from the camps onto Wheeldale Moor.
Today the inhabitants of Cropton include farmers, commuters, people in
the tourist industry and retired folk.
There is one pub, the New Inn, which has its own brewery in the
village. Quite a lot of social events take place – thanks largely to
the 2004 refurbishment of the village hall.
village church (since 1986 a fully-fledged parish church) is dedicated to St Gregory
the Great. It stands to the east of Castle
Hill. From the hill a fine
view was once visible over the valley of the River Seven towards the
moors to the west and north-west. On the ridge a mile and a half to the
south-west is the steeple of Christ Church, Appleton-le-Moors, now sadly
obscured by trees.
church was formerly a chapel-of-ease within the Parish of Middleton.
In 1986 Cropton with Cawthorne became a
new parish, and a member of the new United Benefice of Lastingham
with Appleton-le-Moors, Rosedale and Cropton.
is no record of when the original church was built. The plain circular
font is probably Norman, and possibly in the Saxon tradition. A chaplain
was attached to the church in the 14th century – perhaps
the chaplain to the castle mentioned above.
We know that in the late 18th century the
building was slated, after alterations which probably included the
addition of a south porch.
In the 1840s the church was severely damaged by fire, and rebuilt
between 1844 and 1855. Some of the materials of the original church were
re-used, but some were sold off. An apsidal sanctuary
was added. A bellcote with two small bells was provided in the west
gable. The cost of the rebuilding, which was £500, was raised by a levy
of £1 upon the parishioners, a grant of £35, and the rest by voluntary
At the time of rebuilding, the vicar of the parish (of Middleton) was
Charles Mackereth, and James Dixon was the chapelwarden of the Chapelry
of Cropton. Cropton and Lockton were each chapels-of-ease attached to
Middleton. In 1865 an
afternoon service was held at each once a fortnight, with Holy Communion
being celebrated only twice a year. The attendance at each service was
between ninety and one hundred and ten.
entries in the accounts, 1816 - 1891
An account book was found in Pickering some years
ago, extracts from which were published in a local newspaper.
In 1816 the church windows were fitted with bolts and
shutters, costing nine shillings and sixpence.
Church dues were paid by all the leading Cropton families,
the highest being from George Thorp, Pennock Thompson, Joseph Wood,
Jonathan Goodall, William Green and Joseph Berriman. The principal
payments were to the churchwardens of Middleton, the mother church.
In 1819 a Book of Common Prayer was bought for £2.
In 1823 a new Bible (presumably for the lectern) was bought
In 1822 half a stone of hair was mixed with half a caldron
of lime for repairs.
In 1866 tuning of the harmonium is the first mention of
such an instrument.
In 1868 a charge for candles was first recorded.
For some years, surplice washing cost five shillings per
are six stained-glass windows, five in memory of the Thompson and
Liddell families, and one of James Reckitt.
Healing of the Centurion’s Servant
windows illustrate the words of Christ:
am the Light of the World.”
am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
am the Good Shepherd.”
wall, west end
grateful memory of the men of Cropton who gave their lives for us in the
Great War of 1914 to 1919: John Roberts, Thomas Smithson, James Barker,
men who fell in the Second World War are commemorated by a wooden tablet
on the north wall, which was previously attached to an organ subscribed
to in their memory.
in and around the village, are four wrought iron seats inscribed with
the following names: J.
Cameron, F. Dawson, J .F. Flintoft and E. Peirson.
the north wall of the church is a splendid stone memorial, decorated
with carved military weapon and urn, to the late Captain George Lee.
In the apse are two brass candelabra, each holding twelve candles,
which were given by the Reckitts of Keldy.
The lectern has a small brass plate in memory of the Revd William
Scoresby. Two wrought iron
flower pedestals were given about 1972 in memory of the Revd A. T.
Barker, a former vicar of Middleton, and of Mrs Annie Grayson, a Cropton
have already mentioned a harmonium that existed in 1866, and a pipe
organ which was provided in memory of those who fell in the Second World
War. This organ seems to
have become derelict by the 1980s, and at some stage a Hammond organ was
2004 St Gregory’s acquired its lovely 1899 Harrison & Harrison
pipe organ. Half of
the funds for this were raised from donations, mainly from around the
village, and the other half
were raised out of the generosity of four charitable trusts. On 22
February 2004 the instrument was dedicated and played by the Archdeacon
of Cleveland, supported by the newly-founded Benefice Choir. It was
clear that the sound of this pipe organ was so much better than
what we had become used to.
A faculty for burials was granted in 1760, and the earliest stone is
probably that of Sarah Sturdy, near the church door and dated 1760.
It is recorded that stocks were in use in the
churchyard in 1567, and again in 1613.
To the south of the church there is the base and part
of the shaft of a 10th or 11th century stone
cross. An old rhyme records a custom of its use in caring for thirsty
On Cropton Cross there is a cup,
to the base of the cross is a small metal plaque, recording the deaths
of several of the Adamson family from 1767.
1874 additional land to the north-west was donated by the Thompson
family for a churchyard extension, and in 1920 the land to the
monumental inscriptions were recorded in 1983 by Barbara Aconley, and
copies deposited at Pickering Library, the Northallerton Archives
Department and the Borthwick Institute in York.
lower part of the original churchyard, to the south, is now maintained
as a conservation area for wildlife, and in summer many species of
wildflowers and butterflies can be seen there. In 1986 Richard Bell, mbe,
churchwarden, recorded 113 species of tree, wild flowers, etc. and
though none were rare, there were some uncommon ones. The cherry tree
near the Cross (see above) was planted in his memory. The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust noted 43 types of lichens in 1990. In 1982 some of the trees
bordering the path were felled to let in more light and new trees were
planted on the slope in 1984.
In 2004 a lime was planted by Elisabeth Blizzard in memory of her
– and then membership of a new group of churches
St Gregory’s long association with Middleton and the Pickering
Deanery came to an end in 1986 when Cropton became a parish in its own
right. The vicar at the
time was the Revd Francis Hewitt. Celebrations
were held to mark the occasion, including the dedication by the Bishop
of Whitby and a procession through the village, all followed by a parish
tea. After the creation of the new parish, Richard Bell led a walk round
the northern section of the boundary in the tradition of the ancient
practice of beating the bounds. He was accompanied by many of the
church’s congregation, taking members to sites overlooking the moors
which some of them had never seen before.
At the same time the parish of Cropton joined the newly created United
Benefice of Lastingham, Appleton-le-Moors, Rosedale and Cropton, in the
Silver Chalice dispute
Some time after the creation of the new parish, a
solution to an on-going dispute about a silver chalice was agreed. This
chalice, dating from 1493 and apparently discovered in the vicarage
attic, had been sold in the mid 1970s for £25 000, to the London
Goldsmiths Company. The apportioning of this windfall was a knotty
problem, but after much soul-searching, the decision of the York
Diocesan Consistory Court was accepted by the separated parishes of
Middleton and Cropton. The parish of St Gregory thus received the sum of
£7,500, a very welcome addition to its financial assets.
founder of Methodism, John Wesley, is known to have preached in
Pickering in 1790, during his final tour around England.
In addition to the Anglican chapel-of-ease of St Gregory, there have
been three Methodist chapels in the village. The Zion Primitive
Methodist Chapel, built in 1852 after the split between the Wesleyans
and the Primitives of 1849, is
now the only active one. The original Wesleyan Chapel was converted into
the Village Reading Room, containing about 400 books, through the
auspices of Lt. Col. Thompson of Sutherland Lodge. The Reading Room, now
the Village Hall, refurbished in 2005, bears the date 1898. Squire Gill
built an extension to the rear for larger functions, known as
‘dance-end’ by some older village inhabitants.
A new chapel was built at the opposite side of the road to replace the
earlier one, but this has been a private house since the 1960s.
The ‘Yorkshire Evangelist’, Thomas Langton, who was by all accounts
a great gourmand, may have been the man who brought Methodism to
Cropton. He was an apparently worthy Malton preacher. A Cropton Anglican
churchwarden, who did not approve of his methods, labelled him ‘a
great, fat, overfed fellow who consumed vast quantities of his various
hosts mutton, beef, ham, eggs and preserves.’
But these warnings so roused the people’s interest that they
flocked to hear him. Many were said to have gone home converted,
including the churchwarden!
recently, an important part of Methodist worship in Cropton has been the
‘camp meetings’ and ‘love feasts’, which took place up to the
First World War. Fervent singing and praying at the afternoon camp
meetings, every August Bank Holiday Sunday, preceded the open-air
evening love feasts. Speakers addressed the evening gatherings of the
Primitive Methodists. Biscuits and a pot of water were handed round the
congregation to help along the singing. The meetings began at the top of
the village but later the whole group marched down the street towards
the chestnut tree, singing rousing Methodist hymns all the way.
chapel anniversaries were for many years another Methodist tradition.
The Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists held separate anniversaries and
sang in their own respective choirs. The present Methodist chapel
proudly houses the Reginald Harvey Cup, won by a Cropton choir at a
Pickering Eisteddfod in 1970. In the afternoon of each anniversary the
children recited their own special pieces (they participated in the two
anniversaries if they could) after which everyone sat down to tea. Later
in the evening supper was provided, the hospitality each year supplied
by the families of the village in turn. These events were exciting
highlights in village life. The present-day Chapel Anniversary is a
reminder of that earlier tradition. Annual Sunday School outings were a
special day for the children: each child was given sixpence to spend.
Everyone enjoyed these wonderful occasions.
Gregory’s continues as a traditional village church, with a service on
most Sundays and main festivals, and a loyal core congregation.
In these times in which, it seems, there are so many other things
to do, as well as a social climate that is not altogether conducive to
churchgoing, this is no mean achievement.
recent innovation has been the introduction of a Visitors Book.
We did not know what to expect – did anyone ever visit our
church? Evidently they do.
The entries show that we are a more visited church than we
thought, and comments indicate that people
There are now features of our church life that are
shared with the other four churches of the group: the choir, discussion
groups, fundraising and social activities.
It is also good to put on record our continued
relationship with Cropton Methodist Church, with the sharing of one
service each month.
At the time of writing there are the various uncertainties
the Anglican Church is going through. We must be confident that
faithfulness, goodwill and generosity will keep St Gregory’s in good
heart, so that the cycle of the prayer and worship of the congregation
will continue to be a blessing to the village and even to the wider
church. As we become the
more aware of the vulnerability of the church these days, we make every
effort for there to be business as usual.
is an edited and expanded account by ASF and SB of parts of Cropton
History Group’s booklet
Story, 1995 (ISBN 0948228 75 X).
Material is used by kind permission of the successors to Cropton
thanks to Barbara Aconley and John Rushton.
© Cropton PCC 2006
Except where otherwise stated or implied the material on this page is copyright © Lastingham Parochial Church Council 2008. All rights reserved.