The Lastingham Group of Churches

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


      York  35 miles   ·   London  242 miles

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Whitby  28   ·  Scarborough 23   ·   Pickering 7   ·   Kirkbymoorside 5


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The Lastingham Group of Churches


The reports presented to

the 2008 Annual Parochial Church Meeting

16 April 2008


1.      Electoral Roll & Easter Communicants

2.      PCC activities

3.      Worship, church attendance and Occasional Offices

4.      Music & Choir

5.      Ecumenical activities

6.      Work with children

7.      Ministry to visitors and pilgrims  

8.      Financial Statements for 2007 (available separately)

9.      Fabric & Churchyard

10.   The Friends of Lastingham Church

11.   Deanery Synod



There has been a slight increase to the Electoral Roll figures since the new Roll was prepared in 2007.  The figures for the four parishes are given below, and this year with the former barometer of Easter Communicant numbers.


Electoral Roll

Easter Communicants













(in population of ~1350)




There have been a total of 23 PCC meetings.  Apart from the usual housekeeping matters of stewardship, finance and maintenance, highlights of the year’s discussions were as follows.

The Combined PCC met only once, and matters discussed included:

    Possibilities and limitations of sharing of ministry between priest and people.

    Liturgy, music & worship: the danger of losing core liturgical texts, the Psalms in particular, through apathy and disuse; the challenge this poses to us.  Choosing the music.

    The usefulness to us of away-days and pilgrimages.  Possible arrangements.

    The proposal to appoint a Stewardship Officer/Giving Officer (Penny Leask has been appointed). 

    Helping Zimbabwe: a proposal for a small contribution from the Lastingham Group of Churches. 

    The idea of a traditional church fete, with each Church and the Friends of Lastingham Church participating.

Lastingham PCC met eight times, and matters discussed included:

    The importance of accommodating children in church.

    Christian Giving: towards renewed efforts in best practice.

    Lastingham Organ Project (a working party was set up to operate as a subcommittee of the PCC).

    The need for a churchyard and maintenance working group (set up in summer 2007)

    The Crypt stones: what to do with them. 

    Plans for a Lastingham Festival: ‘Flowers and Angels’

    The many evident priorities but scarce resources for achieving them.

Appleton PCC met four times, and matters discussed included:

    The future of Christ Church: the need for an all-hands-on-deck approach if this church, like so many in Britain, is not to become redundant, and in particular a call for as many as possible to attend the monthly 10.30 Eucharist on a regular basis.

    An appreciation of the celebration the 10.30 Eucharist with informal commentary instead of a traditional-style sermon, making it a ‘teaching service’ for confirmation candidates and others.

    Thanks to two good musical events (see below), a flower workshop at Burlington House, a confirmation service and some new helpers, the PCC felt that 2007 had ended with a much brighter outlook than a year ago.

Rosedale PCC met six times, and matters discussed included:

    Children’s Corner: the provision of picture colouring sheets at the back of the church for visitors’ children is very popular. 

    The duties of PCC members, especially of regular church attendance.

    In the sharing of ministry between priest and people, the necessity for training for those involved in various church roles and duties; the need for PCCs to look favourably on the value of training at all levels; e.g. for instruction about the duties of sidesmen, and how to read the Office.

    The advantages of some sharing of duties between the parishes.

    The purpose of combined PCC meetings – to meet up with other churches in the benefice and share ideas about the wider issues of church and society. 

    Towards a ‘best practice’ in the management of Regular Giving; how to encourage our people to give regularly and realistically – and the need to set a good example ourselves.

    A decision to hand out Gift Aid envelopes, with  hymn books and service sheets at regular services and also at baptisms, weddings and funerals.

    Liturgy & worship: brief review; the desirability of offering course fees for our musicians.

    The advantages of participating in liturgy, worship and music elsewhere. Hence a plan for one or two Sunday mornings away.

    Churchyard: the new entrance; mowing regimes (Living Churchyard regime is followed; voluntary or paid labour?

Cropton PCC met four times, and matters discussed included:

    Liturgy and worship: a brief review; prayer boards; All Souls-tide Eucharist

    Church Representation Rules:  in view of the difficulty of filling the posts, the need to encourage a culture in which everyone should take a turn – on the  understanding that they can stand down after a year or two. 

    Finance and Giving: the danger signals of lack of financial health; streamlining Gift Aid procedures. Charitable giving: St Luke’s Hospital for the Clergy, the Barnabas Fund; Eliah Mafigu in Zimbabwe.

    Pastoralia: the 2007 Lenten exercise was reported – looking at the past, prayerfully.

    Social: problems of the farming community; the sad loss of the Cropton Cricket Club.

    Our future: in an ageing population, churchgoers too will be aging. But special services are well attended, and the church was still important to people. Those who have had a baptism, marriage or family funeral to be invited to take on some small job.

    Churchyard: reservation of gravespace not normally necessary, since all present and recent parishioners have the right to be buried; tree work (phase one successfully carried out)



There continues to be a service in each of the five churches on most Sundays and Festivals. Some follow the 10.30 Eucharist through the villages, but a good number follow the more traditional 8 o’clock Holy Communion from the Book of Common Prayer.  Others attend the service in their own village even though the service and the time will be different each week.  The core congregation of the five villages remains about 60 in winter (that’s 4.6% of the population), while attendances in summer may be over 100.  

Special thanks are due to three retired priests:  Canon Gerald Pearce and the Revd Michael Stephens; and to the Revd Maurice Pettitt for faithfully attending the Saturday Morning Prayer at Lastingham and for his strong support generally.     

The decreasing availability of clergy is generating a difficult dilemma: should we reduce the number of services – thus decreasing church attendance and therefore financial income? Or should we strive to keep up standards at all costs? One solution is to have a layperson read Morning or Evening Prayer for just a few people in those churches not having a celebration of the Eucharist that day, thus ensuring that every building is used at least once a week and prayers said for that village. We are trying this out when it seems appropriate.       

Easter communicants last year were lower than might have been hoped – at 105 compared with 117 in 2006.  That’s 43% of the Electoral Roll.  

A regular weekday Office continues to be held in each church, at least once a week in rotation, in addition to the weekday Eucharists in Lastingham and Rosedale. The weekday attendance, at around 26 per month, is very commendable.  Weekday attendance is considered a good barometer of spiritual health in a parish.  

The Choir and one or two of the PCCs have studied the question of whether worship is a ‘consumer’ activity. Do we go to church mainly to ‘charge our batteries’ or is there something more involved? It can be well said that attendance out of pure duty,  as a witness to others, is not ‘hypocrisy’, but may be a spiritually mature way of looking at things.

Numbers of Occasional Offices in 2007 were at follows:





Marriages & Blessings of Civil Marriages









The Benefice Choir

We are pleased to report that the Benefice Choir is now moving into its fifth year. This committed group of singers continues to meet weekly and work hard to learn new repertoire, whilst maintaining established material, to support many of the larger services across the Benefice. 

It has been a challenging year for the choir, following a rather discouraging Christmas and the continued difficulty of working without an organ. However at this time we feel a sense 
of new life and encouragement in our ministry. We have recently been joined by some additional singers and are working on a more systematic Sung Eucharist to a setting by Martin Shaw, who wrote very much for parishes like ours.

In Holy Week 2007 we again hosted the Archbishop and clergy for a Chrism Mass at St Mary's Lastingham –  a privilege, and a considerable challenge for our small choir.

For a second year we have  enjoyed collaboration with Fr Alexander of Ampleforth Abbey and the Choir of Our Lady and St Chad, Kirkbymoorside. It was a privilege for many of us to take part in an Orthodox Liturgy at Ampleforth in November and in a follow up recording early this year.

We have also enjoyed visits from the Chanticleer Singers, the Elizabethan Singers, the Staxton Singers, and York Chapter House Choir.

We have been pleased to see the successful launch of the Lastingham Organ Project, and as a group within the Benefice the choir are putting considerable energy at this time into fundraising projects.  In May we will be hosting a second Three Choirs Concert at Lastingham, once again sharing our voices and our venue with two other local choirs, the Elizabethan Singers and Echo.  We also look forward to close involvement with the Festival of Flowers and Angels in August.

We have been pleased recently to have increased our number of singers from around the benefice, but would also like to renew our encouragement to those of you who may like to join us.  If you enjoy singing you would be most welcome  to come along and try us out !   

– CH           

Concerts & Playreading   

Our musical programme continues to attract large numbers of visitors from the Ryedale music community and from further afield, and we have been able to welcome some fine amateur and professional musicians (often sponsored by generous benefactors). During the year we have hosted six concerts in St Mary’s (which was always full to capacity) – two choral concerts, and four recitals of chamber music.  At Appleton-le-Moors two wonderful musical events were held: Jamie Walton’s Bach by Candlelight – a recital of three of the Bach cello suites; and the Archdeacon of Cleveland’s Organ Lecture and Recital.  (Our Forster & Andrews organ has been declared an instrument of historic significance, and ought to be registered with the British Institute of Organ Studies.)  At Lastingham in November we put on another play-reading, when a number of local people gathered  in St Mary’s to read through Dorothy Sayers’ The Zeal of thy House. Everyone enjoyed the experience, and we hope to do more in the future.  Between 2001 and 2007 Lastingham Church has hosted 35 concerts, with audiences generally between 50 and 130.


Lastingham Organ Project

By the end of 2006 the Lastingham organ was unplayable and had been declared past restoration. Lastingham Organ Project was set up in August 2007, and has the tagline ‘Bringing new life and music to an ancient church.’  A late 19th century organ by Peter Conacher has been earmarked for us, and is to be restored and adapted.  Selected pipework from the existing Lastingham organ is to be re-used.  Some new ranks and other equipment are to be added to make the instrument suitable for recitals. The replacement organ, restored and adapted, will benefit church and community: as well as being used to accompany choir and congregation, it will also be a recital instrument, and be a wonderful resource for encouraging present and future organists. We have almost 65% of the funds, either in hand or pledged – a magnificent effort. Lastingham Organ Project will enable good music, encourage organists, and be a resource for younger musicians. All this will help to renew our musical and liturgical heritage at a local level.                       – ASF


Our choir once again joined with the choirs of Our Lady and St Chad, and All Saints, Kirkbymoorside, in the singing of the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom at Ampleforth Abbey. St Mary’s hosted a celebration of the Divine Liturgy by the Orthodox Church in Doncaster.    Groups from Ampleforth Abbey and elsewhere continue to celebrate Mass in Lastingham Crypt.  In 2008 it is hoped that we shall again host the group of asylum seekers, whom we have got to know, inviting their contributions from the various countries and denominations they represent.    At Hartoft, in the parish of Rosedale, an Anglican Eucharist is held each month in the Methodist Chapel (or in a private house in the colder weather). Appleton and Cropton parishes continue to alternate a service with the Methodists each month.          – ASF


Lastingham & Spaunton   In collaboration with Rosedale, a Children’s Mass has usually been held once a month. More help is however going to be needed  in working with children and young people, if there is going to be a church for the next generation.   – ASF

Appleton   This year we were proud to host a confirmation service, and two of our previous Sunday School children ‘graduated’.  The preparation for this took the form of an informal commentary plus hands-on assistance by the children at the monthly 10.30 Eucharist.  At the Crib Service the handbells were played once again. Although further Sunday School sessions are not being held at present, it is planned to build on the work already done, and it is hoped that activities such as hand bell ringing, as well as assistance at the altar, can be kept up                                     – K-LL

Rosedale    Our Sunday School continues to be held on the 3rd Sunday of the month during the 10.30 service, with an attendance of between three and six, plus occasional visitors.  When a ‘special’ service takes place we often get a record number of children e.g. Harvest Thanksgiving 27, Mothering Sunday 14.  The Mother and Toddler service is held on first Friday of the month at 9.30am.  The children like to help prepare the service and serve at the Altar.  Two of our ex toddlers, now at Rosedale School, regularly attend the 10.30am Eucharist and are assistant servers.  On the social-side we held an Egg Hunt on Easter Day and in December, to round off the year, a hectic afternoon making decorations singing carols and trimming the Christmas tree.         – SKG

Rosedale School  The Vicar continues to visit Rosedale School each week, to take assembly and teach the children. In these days when it is sometimes considered un-PC to teach Christianity in non-church schools, this is an important part of our outreach into the community, providing in many cases virtually the only contact with the church.     

Cropton   It has again been a  pleasure to have children read at the Harvest Thanksgiving and at the Carol Service.    – ASF


In the seven years from 2001 - 2007 almost 160 groups have taken part in a Quiet Day or pilgrimage at Lastingham. Most of these represent bookings from outside. Some bring their own priest and celebrate the Eucharist in the Crypt, and some ask us for a talk or conducted tour. In many cases visitors have been given refreshments or a simple lunch. In summer this can seem quite a substantial part of the our workload, but we gather from their comments that this ministry is appreciated.

               Pilgrimages & Quiet Days at Lastingham: 2001-2007

These figures include a small number of benefice events.

















It is also clear that a large number of people visit our churches, often lighting a candle or placing a prayer request on the board.  Last year over 5000 people signed one of the visitors books. If it is true, as research suggests, that one in eight visitors sign the book, this means  that in 2007 we received well over 40,000 visitors.   


Numbers signing
the visitors books

visitor numbers
(= recorded numbers x 8)

St Mary’s, Lastingham



St Chad, Hutton-le-Hole



Christ Church,



St Mary & St Laurence, Rosedale Abbey



St Gregory’s, Cropton







In 2008 it is intended in Rosedale to provide light lunches –  soup, sandwiches, etc., for walkers and visitors on some weekends.  We will inform local walking groups of our intentions with dates, etc. and put up posters.



These are available separately, and are presented by each Treasurer.  Sincere thanks go to all who have done the bookkeeping and compiled the Accounts over the past year, or helped with them in any way: Gerald Blakey, Alison Dodgson, Sara Goodswen, Anthea Read, Nigel Roberts, June Scarth and Terry Sunderland. Mention must also be made of those who count the collections, empty the wall boxes and bank the money. Thank you also to our Independent Examiners:  David Anderson for Lastingham, Hutton and Appleton, Alison Dodgson for Rosedale and Sally Sleigtholme for Cropton. 





Total income





  of which:
   Tax-efficient Regular Giving





Number of Regular Givers


of ER


of ER

Total expenditure





  of which:  
   Parish Share **





   Heat & light, insurance &





*   This figure includes legacies totalling £10,500.

**  Some of the Share (Common Fund) has not been paid.


A note on Signpost magazine  Signpost covers both church and community and is published eight times a year. About 420 copies are printed in summer  (less in winter), of which about 50 are distributed to hotels, holiday cottages and campsites, and another 25 sold in the churches. Over 20 are sent by post.  A donation of £1 is invited, or £5 for the eight copies. Revenue from advertising in 2007 was around £540 (for which our thanks are due to  Jo Taylor).  This year shows a small deficit. However, the purpose is not to make a profit, and as has been mentioned a number of copies are left free of charge in holiday premises.  Thank you to all who contribute in any way – writing, dealing with the advertising, editing, folding, delivering and collecting the subscriptions.    – ASF



Fabric Reports

St Mary Lastingham

The lead of the roof on the north aisle was replaced following the theft in October 2006.  
The lighting in the Crypt needs to be upgraded, and this is being looked into. The other recommendations of the latest Quinquennial still need to be addressed.  A wonderful set of Purple vestments and hangings for Advent and Lent have been purchased
with the help of a legacy made some years ago specifically for that purpose.   

St Chad's, Hutton-le-Hole

The building has been maintained in good condition with the help of many volunteers during the year and no problems have been encountered.          – AGC

Christ Church, Appleton-le-Moors

A new altar superfrontal in Red has been made by Sue Fleus and Eileen Chapman of Teale Embroiderers, to replace the old one.  Alan Hughes from the Whitechapel ell Foundry (who originally made our ring of six bells) inspected the bells and told us they were in need of much restoration. The handbells too were inspected, and need restoration.  The woodwork in the bell tower needs Rentokil treatment.       – MI

St Mary and St Laurence, Rosedale Abbey

No major work has been undertaken this year, as all our energies have been concentrated on the new entrance, but there is outstanding work from the last Quinquennial.  We have had a quote for repair/renewal of the east window of the sacristy. The fitting of the roof plates and painting of the ceiling still need to be done.  It is hoped that we will have the funds to do the new church lighting whilst the scaffolding is in place.  We had a visit from Patrick Nisbet of Maison Bouvrier, who has quoted for a new Green altar hanging, pulpit fall, and veil and burse.       – SKG

St Gregory’s, Cropton

An inspection has been carried out on the stained glass windows, and an estimate obtained for cleaning and restoration. The work will be carried out when funds permit. A new electric door lock has been installed to replace the old one. We are shortly to have the outstanding electrical work completed, together with replacement of any faulty radiators. The rest of the fabric appears to be in a very sound condition.     – AMT

Churchyard Reports

St Mary Lastingham

There has been great progress tidying up the churchyard.  We now have a rota for cutting grass and general maintenance work, and it is looking much better cared for. In the Spring the south path was re-laid, the cost being borne partly by the PCC, partly from financial tributes to several of our much loved members who have died, and partly by a gift from the Friends of Lastingham Church.    – MSC

St Chad’s, Hutton-le-Hole

The churchyard has been maintained in good condition throughout the year with the help of volunteers and a contractor, at minimal cost.   – AGC

Christ Church, Appleton-le-Moors

The churchyard has been maintained in fairly good condition.  A new oil tank on a concrete base has been placed next to the northern boundary fence.         – MI

St Mary and St Laurence Church, Rosedale Abbey

The highlight of the year must be our new entrance, which is nearly finished.  There have been a few problems, but these are being resolved and it is hoped that work will be finished by early summer 2008.  William Foster took over the grass cutting in the churchyard in August and has made a splendid job – it is hoped that he will take on the job in 2008.  We are continuing, as best we can, to follow the guidelines set for us by the Living Churchyard Project.  The churchyard is nearly full and we are in negotiation with Faccombe Estates regarding a plot of land for new gravespace.   – SKG

St Gregory’s Cropton

Tree work:  earlier this year a clump of conifers was felled, which has given a more open aspect to the churchyard and has uncovered some gravestones which were hidden by the trees. The area exposed is to be raked over and seeded. At the same time the yew tree by the church door was taken down to base, and will now be kept in shape as it grows again. The two yew trees by the gate need further pruning, but due to the weather this will probably now have to be postponed until the Autumn.  It is hoped that the path will be re-gravelled later this year.     – AMT


Last summer the Friends organised a concert by York Chapter House Choir, which was well attended and evidently much enjoyed.  The 2007 Lastingham Lecture (the fourth) took us far forward from Celtic and Saxon times to the nineteenth century;  Dr David Miller of the Physiological Society spoke on Sydney Ringer, a Pre-eminent Victorian: his Place in Medicine and at Lastingham.  The Friends has provided funding for the re-laying of Lastingham churchyard’s south path, and have also offered funds for a set of folding chairs and a disability ramp. We were sorry that in January 2008 Neil Davidson, who had founded the Friends in 2004, resigned as Chairman. It is anticipated that a new chairman will be elected at the AGM to be held in May.  


A report was received from Diocesan Synod on their proposals for coping with the reducing number of clergy. This  generated much discussion.

      The administrative skills needed by churchwardens, treasurers and others were to be recognised as gifts of the Holy Spirit.

      Team building is important, for both support and leadership.

      A team of Readers would form an essential part of future rural ministry.

The Archdeacon had expressed his thanks for the deanery almost meeting its obligations in contributing to the Common Fund (95%)                        – AM




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