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All Saints Church, Helmsley

OS grid reference:- SE 617 838

The Church of All Saints at the attractive market town of Helmsley in North York Moors is a beautiful Grade II listed building. It is located off the market square, and Castlegate.

A church in Helmsley has occupied the site since before the Norman conquest, the churchyard was used as a market place in the Anglo-Saxon era and an interesting ancient hogback gravestone is displayed in the porch. In the twelfth century the church was rebuilt in the Norman style and two Norman arches, one over the entrance doorway, the other over the chancel, have survived to the present day. They are rounded arches in the Norman style, as opposed to the Early English in which pointed arches were used in later developments.

The church, which was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, has a three-stage west tower, a four-bay nave, a two-bay chancel, transepts, vestry and south porch. It is constructed of sandstone ashlar with a steeply sloping stone slate roof. The tower has thirteenth century lancet windows to its west and north faces at the second stage.

The north chapel is dedicated to Aelred (1110 - 12 January 1167), third abbot of the Cistercian monastery at Rievaulx Abbey. Alongside his role as a monk and later abbot, Aelred was involved throughout his life in political affairs. The chapel contains a statue of the Virgin Mary, and votive candles. The south chapel is dedicated to St. Columba, a missionary from Ireland who brought Christianity to much of northern England. The chapel contains colourful wall paintings of contemporary events, including depictions of Saint Oswald and a knight slaying a dragon emblazoned with the pagan gods.

Much rebuilding was carried out between 1866 and 1869, which was funded by the Earl of Feversham at a cost of 16,000, when Norman and later features were lost, including the font, which was replaced in 1868; the original medieval font is now in the church at Pockley. The church's nineteenth century restoration was in the Gothic Revival style but incorporates work from the old church.

In 1931 a Harrison and Harrison pipe organ was installed on a platform immediately west of the chancel.This organ replaced an existing instrument installed in 1868 by the Walker organ company.Mr Arthur Harrison retained some of the existing pipework and incorporated this in the new instrument.

The colourful north aisle murals were designed by the Rev. C.N. Gray and completed in 1909 by Mr Gast, a London artist. The murals depict the course of Christianity in the area and add beauty and historical interest to the church. The stained glass windows relate the story of the twelfth century lord of Helmsley, Walter Espec. The high altar and reredos were made for Moore by Robert Thompson, the celebrated 'Mouseman' of Kilburn.

Abbeys and Churches of Yorkshire