The Lastingham Group of Churches

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


      York  35 miles   ·   London  242 miles

Lindisfarne 130  ·   Walsingham 190  ·  Canterbury 310  ·  Rome 1140  ·  Constantinople 1570  ·  Jerusalem 2290

 Whitby  28   ·  Scarborough 23   ·   Pickering 7   ·   Kirkbymoorside 5


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Almost nothing is known for certain about the site in pre-Christian times.  There had been a Roman Camp at Cawthorn, a couple of miles away.

It may be that Lastingham Church is built on an older pagan site. What was the current policy about this?  Here is an extract from a letter of Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, to Mellitus, Bishop of London, who was about to join Augustine of Canterbury on his mission to England which began in ad 597. It contains Gregory’s famous advice on how to deal with a pagan culture and its symbols.

Let him, after he has purified them with holy water, place altars and relics of the saints in them. For, if those temples are well built, they should be converted from the worship of demons to the service of the true God. Thus, seeing that their places of worship are not destroyed, the people will banish error from their hearts and come to places familiar and dear to them, in acknowledgement and worship of the true God.

Further, since it has been their custom to slaughter oxen in sacrifice, they should receive some solemnity in exchange. Let them therefore, on the day of the dedication of their churches, or on the feast of the martyrs whose relics are preserved in them, build themselves huts around their one-time temples and celebrate the occasion with religious feasting. They will sacrifice and eat the animals no longer as an offering to the devil, but for the glory of God to whom, as the giver of all things, they will give thanks for having been satiated. Thus, if they are not deprived of all exterior joys, they will more easily taste the interior ones. For surely it is impossible to efface all at once everything from their strong minds; just as, when one wishes to reach the top of a mountain, he must climb by stages and step by step, not by leaps and bounds.

Mention this to our brother the Bishop, so that he may settle the matter as he sees fit, according to the conditions of time and place.


The Romans had left in about the year 410.  The church was founded around 654. The Venerable Bede in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People 3.23, describes the founding of Lastingham Monastery.  He tells us that:  

Cedd chose himself a site for the monastery amid some steep and remote hills which seemed better fitted for the haunts of robbers and the dens of wild beasts than for human habitation; so that, as Isaiah says, ‘In the habitations where once dragons lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes’, that is, the fruit of good works spring up where once beasts dwelt or where men lived after the manner of beasts.  The man of God was anxious first of all to cleanse the site which he had received for the monastery from the stain of former crimes by prayer and fasting, before laying the foundations.

For the full text of Bede's account of the founding of Lastingham, click here.


On the right is the full passage from Isaiah from which Bede quotes. It is one of the lessons traditionally read at carol services.  We also read as the first Lesson on the Feast of St Cedd at the end of October.  



CHAD was praying alone, the other monks having gone to the church, except for Ovin who was working outside. Ovin heard the sound of sweet and joyful singing descend from the sky to earth floating into the building where Chad prayed.  Chad then asked Ovin to call the brothers, and he urged them to live virtuously in love and peace with each other and with all the faithful; also to follow with unwearied constancy the rule of life which he had taught them.  

Chad added that the day of his death was close, and that his brother Cedd had appeared to him to summon him from the world. The monks were told to pray, fast, and do good works in preparation for their own death.  Ovin asked Chad about the singing he had heard floating into the room. Chad replied that it was ‘angel spirits come to summon me to the heavenly joys which I have always loved and longed for; and they have promised to return in seven days and take me with them.’ Bede tells us Chad was almost immediately ‘afflicted with weakness of body’ and grew worse until he died on the seventh day after receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord.  

It was the year 672.

Condensed by RR from Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, IV, 20  


FROM 1078

Frank Weston’s History of Lastingham (Leeds, 1914) cites a passage from an MS in the Bodleian Library by Stephen de Whitby (the authenticity of which we are checking):

"In the King’s Demesne not far from Whytteby, there was a place called Lastingam [sic], then indeed vacant, but formerly noted for the number and piety of the monks who lived there.  This place was given us by the King, and we began to restore it by degrees, and to erect such buildings as were necessary for a habitation of monks. "




References to the Pilgrimage of Grace (1536-1537), in which two Lastingham residents took part - and were executed - coming soon.   


In the year 1559 the church was said to be 'in ruin and decay.' 





Vicar Luke Smelt [BA.] Instituted 12 May 1709.  Deacon [illegible] May 1708, John York

1.     We have 225 families whereof are 9 Quaker and 6 Methodist families.

2.     There is licensed Quaker meeting house, 2 licensed Methodist houses. The Quakers (I am informed) assemble every other Thursday and have one George Mason who teaches them. The Methodists seem to have no fixt time of assembling, nor can I know their number as they have generally a rabble attending them when the[y] preach in the house or townstreet: nor can I tell who teaches them as they have sometimes 3 or 4 who all preach at one of their love feasts, or watching nights as they call them.

3.     We have only a maner woman who teach[es] children to read, English and to write, and care is taken to instruct them in the Christian religion and they are brought to church as the Canon requires.

4.     We have nothing left to pious but the following, viz., William Thorp of Appleton left by will to the poor of Appleton 6s. 8d. annually, to be paid out of certain lands there. John [illegible] of Appleton left £1 to the poor of Appleton, Hutton and Spanton cum Lastingham to [illegible] yearly paid out of certain lands mere. Also left by one [illegible] whose will can now [illegible]  here be found) 6s. 8d. yearly paid out of certain lands at Hutton to the poor of  Appleton and Spanton cum Lastingham, to each town 6s. 8d. Also left by the wills George and Thomas Hobson of Cropton, in the parish of Middleton, to the poor widows and fatherless children of Lastingham one Garth at Lastingham called [illegible] Garth of the yearly rent of £1. All the above charities are and have been immemorially paved. 20 June 1700 John Robinson Senior of Hut ton in the Hole in the parish of Lastingham, by will left and gave to the poor people of Hutton in the Hole in the said parish the summ of 10s. yearly to be payed out of his leasehold estate there for the term of 1000 years unexpired and to come by equal portions at Christmas and Easter. NB the above charity has not been payed for 11 years last past.

5.    Our vicar, being superannuated, lives with his daughter at Sinnington, a neighbouring parish.

6.     I have been a residing curate above 24 years in the town of Lastingham and duly qualified according to the Canons in that behalf. A tenant lives in the vicarage house. I have £25 yearly payed according to contract.

7.     Divine service is performed twice every Lord’s Day at our church with a sermon in the morning at 10, except that once in 6 weeks we go to Farndale, a chapel in our parish, and have divine service in the afternoon from Easter to Michaelmas, and from that time to Easter in the morning.

8.     I know not of any of our parish who come to church not being baptized, or being of a competent age are not confirmed, nor have I baptized any adults since your Grace became our bishop.

9.     I always catechise at what times I expect to have the greatest number of children and servants and the largest congregation; the parishioners are very careful in sending their children. The expositions I make use of, as I have no other, A Course of Catechising for the 52 Sundays in the Year, printed 1664, another by Ed[mund] Broughen DB. 1720.

10. We have the sacrament administred in our church on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Day and Whitsunday, and at Farndale Chapel Tuesday before Easter. I give open and timely notice. We have 551 communicants, whereof 204 com­municated last Easter. I have no occasion to refuse the sacrament to anyone.

11. We have a chapel 6 computed miles distant from our church, without endowment, served as mentioned in answer the seventh.

12. One publick penance was performed last year by Anne Dodsworth of Lastingham, single woman. We have had no commutations for penance that I know of, ever, since I came in the parish.



A Record of an Archdeacon’s Visitation

sometime between 1815 and 1828

Lord of the Manor

Hebry Darley Esq, Huby Park.



The King.


Chief owners – Residents

C. Duncombe Esq., Duncombe Park.
W. Shepherd Esq.,  Dowthwaite Dale.
Mr. Abbey, Hutton.  Mr Atkinson, Appleton.
Miss Blakelock, Lastingham.



Rev. W. N. Darnell.



Rev. H. Kendall.



– No. of Acres

- Inhabitants

- Houses

6500 enclosed, 107000 unenclosed.



What constituent Townships

Lastingham, Spaunton, Appleton.
Hutton including Dowthwaite Dale.

Farndale East side, Rosedale west side.


No. of Bells



If a Clock



Fees of Clergyman.

Marriage by Licence 5s.0d. by Banns 1s.6d.
Churching 1s.0d. Funeral 1s.0d. Mortuary 10s.0d.





Casements N.&S. or E.&W.

Two North & South



Qu. Any burying in Church



Chancel repaired by whom

W. Shepherd Esquire.



Church Yard wall by whom

The Parishioners.




The Vicar.


Communicants Average No. of



Wine for sick.

Wine spared at the Sacraments given to the sick.


Benefactions Qu.

Two Tablets of small Benefactions, amounting annually to the sum of £3.4s.0d


Church Wages

Four Pence a House throughout the Parish collected at Easter.


Fees of Clerk

Marriage by Licence 2s.6d. by Banns 1s.6d. Funeral 2s.0d.


Bible, Prayer Book state of

New Prayer Book.  Bible lately bound.



Surplice & Communion Plate State of

A new Surplice & silver Chalice, & a pewter Flagon server, & Platter.

Registers Terriers in Iron Box.

Registers & Terriers regularly kept in an Iron Box



Qu. a Parish Library



Any Dependent Chapelries




Any Schools weekly or Sunday

There is a weekly School in each Village except Spaunton.  There is also a Sunday School for Boys & Girls in the Church.


What Dissenters

Methodists, Ranters, & Quakers.


What collected usually or average upon Briefs

Average upon Briefs 1s.6d.




Whether read singly

All read singly.


The regular Duty

There is full Duty every Sunday morning at Lastingham & Prayers in the Afternoon, except when there is Duty at Farndale Chapel, which is once in three weeks in the summer and once in six weeks in the winter Seasons, then there is no Evening Prayer at Lastingham.  Sacrament is administered at Lastingham Church four times in the year, viz, Easter Sunday, Whitsunday, Christmas Day & Good-Friday.  Sacrament is administered at Farndale Chapel only once in the Year, viz, on the Tuesday before Easter.




Original document in the Borthwick Institute, University of York: ‘Lastingham, Fac. 1877/2’  

Transcribed by Dr Loma Watts, June 2006


Outline Specification of the Works proposed to be done in the Restoration of the Parish Church of Lastingham near Pickering Yorkshire.  John. L Pearson. A.R.A. of Harley Street London, Architect

Taking down 

To take down the gallery and to remove all the present high pews, to take down the picture and the modern dome over the East end of the Chancel and take up the floors. 

To take off the whole of the roof and parapets.

To take down any monumental slabs or tablets in the Church and refix them within the Church where directed when the work is completed.

To remove any tombstones in the Church yard as may be necessary for the execution of the restoration and refix them at completion repairing and making good all damage (if any).

Excavate for heating vault under part of the North Aisle and for steps down to its outside.

Level the Churchyard as may be deemed necessary and lower or remove and re-inter any burials should any be met with in excavating for the vault etc.  This to be done in the most careful manner and under the supervision of a responsible person.

Waller and Mason

To rebuild the clerestory walls and to insert new windows in character with the ancient work. 

New Chancel arch in character with the old work in place of the present modern one.

New  parapets to Nave and Aisles

To restore the ancient groining of the Nave in place of the present plaster ceiling

To restore the ancient barrel vaulting of the Chancel including the apsidal East end

To open out and restore the three Eastern windows of Chancel now walled up. 

To insert new tracery in the heads of the present South Aisle windows. 

To repair and alter the modem porch to make it correspond with the ancient work adjoining.

To clean all plaster and colour wash from the surface of the walls inside and out and to point the joints. At present the whole of the inside surface of the walls and the dressed stonework of the windows, arches etc. is very thickly coated with plaster. 

To clean all plaster from dressed stonework inside and to repair and restore all the dressed stonework inside and outside to piers columns, arches, windows, stringcourses, base mouldings plinths and elsewhere. 

The inside walls of crypt to be cleaned and restored as described for Church walls and a new and more convenient flight of steps to be provided down to the crypt from the Nave. 

Provide new Pulpit.  

Remove and refix old Font.

Provide new Reredos as shewn.

To warm the Church with some suitable apparatus.

To relay the floors and steps in the Chancel and Crypt to new levels with paving tiles in patterns except where described to be wood. Those in Chancel to be somewhat more ornamental than the rest.

Carpenter, Joiner. etc:-

New roofs to the Nave and Aisles, Porch and Chancel.

New buffer boards to the belfry windows.

New wood block floors under the seats throughout the Church.

The old benches at East end of South Aisle to be adapted and refixed for the use of children.

The Nave and Aisles to be seated with chairs for the present, open benches being proposed to be put in at some future time.

New doors generally.

New Chancel Stalls, Lectern and Altar Table and Altar rails and iron gate to Crypt.

The whole of the roofs to be covered with 7lbs cast lead and gutters laid with 8lbs lead with proper flashings; down pipes from all the roofs and earthenware glazed and socketted drains.

Lightning Conductor from the top of the Tower.

To reglaze all the windows throughout and with all necessary ironwork and with wrot iron casements wherever necessary.

Pearson drawings to follow. 


The Venerable Bede expresses the purpose of the founding of Lastingham church in terms of the following passage from Isaiah (Ecclesiastical History, 3.23). 

THE wilderness and the

solitary place shall be glad; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.  

Strengthen ye the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.  

The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing; for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.  And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: In the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.

And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called: the Way of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, and fools shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come upon it; they shall not be found there. 

But the redeemed shall walk there: and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

        Isaiah 35.1-10 (KJV)



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