Church Restoration 2012-2015

23 January 2016 : Article in the Easingwold Advertiser : “Easingwold’s Catholic Church Restored”

After three months’ of repair and restoration work on Sunday 20 December we celebrated Mass in our church and are once again ready to welcome parishioners and visitors. The parish has raised the funds we needed; and Ampleforth Abbey has given us a low interest loan to enable completion of the work. Sadly no grant- making Trust was willing to help us.

Thanks to Dominic Rawcliffe and his team who designed the alterations. The former Surveyor of St Paul’s, Martin Stancliffe, gave us advice as we began our planning, and Chris Cotton of Purcell Miller Tritton has also advised.

It’s been pleasing to have so much of the work done by local and North Yorkshire companies. We thank John Woods and Quentin McMaster of Cowlings, the main contractors, and the highly skilled teams who carried out the work, Taylors of Pickering whose woodwork we now enjoy, Tony O’Neill who installed the environmentally friendly and economic LED lighting. Bill Calvert has given us a beautiful new carpet, and his fitters worked well into the evening to finish a perfect job. which helps enhance our updated sound system

The ceiling has been insulated so that we no long warm up North Yorkshire. Sebastian Wakefield has done brilliant work executing his own stencil design. The smaller gallery allows more light into the church – and also conforms with modern safety standards. A new heating system allows for whatever climate we are experiencing: the church is warm in cold weather and should be cooler in summer.

A new permanent stone altar has been built: the mensa, the table, is a gift from Ampleforth Abbey. The new Lady Chapel given in memory of the late Mrs Dorothy Coleman (an Easingwold parishioner for over eighty years) provides a quiet space, which is also to be used for Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Of course, there are still things to do. The windows are the cheapest machine made glass of the late 19th. Century and not worthy of the church; and the sacristy will have to do as it is for the moment.

There have been Catholic priests here through penal times. The Benedictines took over in the late 18th century, before the refugee community of St Laurence found a home at Ampleforth in 1802. The church, built in 1831, may have been the first designed by the young Joseph Hansom of York, and the first built in the North Riding after Catholic emancipation in 1828. It was very simply built in the Early English style, and, perhaps nervous because of the continuing story of anti-Catholic prejudice, surrounded by a high wall, even on to the street.

The church was greatly altered in the later 19th century, the roof raised, a gallery for an organ built, larger windows installed and a larger sacristy, with the loss of two of the original lancet windows. Thanks to the Stapleton family, a grand high altar was built, in the high Gothic style of 19th century Gothic revival. There were other additions – notably a rood screen from a Benedictine church, St Anne’s, in Liverpool. Matthew Liddell of Stillington Hall provided new oak benches in the 1920’s, and finally in the fifties the church housed the statue of St Joan of Arc from the former convent of the French nuns who had lived in Easingwold for 50 years after being driven from France following the Dreyfus affair. They taught in our small primary school, which is now our church hall. Many of them are buried here, and remembered in prayer still in our church.

A Church is a living community, and living communities develop. The Second Vatican Council brought liturgical change. The rood screen and the altar rails were removed, and for the last fifty years or so, we have had a temporary wooden altar. Fr John Macaulay undertook some much needed work in the nineties for us, and now we have a church fitting for the celebration of the sacred mysteries of the Mass into the next generation.

We welcome one and all to come and see the church. We would particularly welcome anyone who would like to join us at 3pm on Sunday 24 January for the final service in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which will unite all the congregations of Easingwold in worship together.

Fr Leo Chamberlain, OSB

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19th December 2015 : The Interior in preparation for normal use of the Church, prior to final touches.

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1st September 2015 : Work commences on the Church Interior refurbishment

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Update from Bulletin for 13 Jul 2014 : War Memorial, Stations of the Cross and Statues :

The Restorer, Juan Demeter, has visited and repaired and restored the war memorial near the altar, and has done a very good job – he removed layers of grime for a start, and there will be a small prize for anyone who can spot which fingers he had to replace. He has taken the Stations of the Cross (which reveals just how dirty the paint on the walls is) and also persuaded me to let him take the statues of Our Lady, St Therese, St Thomas More and St John Fisher – parishioners have already subscribed to cover that extra cost. I would not let him take the statue of St Joan of Arc, badly though it needs work done, and is a wood statue of some quality. 

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June 2012 : Exterior Fabric needs and refurbishment

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{ upd 21 Sep 19 }

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