Monastery hoping to expand its building

Orthodox Monastery
Orthodox Monastery

Britain’s only Coptic Orthodox Monastery, set in the heart of the North York Moors National Park, is seeking to increase its number of monks by carrying out a major building project.

Set in the hamlet of Langdale End, in what was an imposing mansion built by the legendry Rowntree family of York, the St Athanasius Monastery currently has some six monks, but plans to build an extension to accommodate 25, says Bishop Anthony, who heads the religious group in Ireland, Scotland and North East England, a region where in total, it has 18 churches.

“We have men wanting to join the Coptic Orthodox monastery, but we have insufficient premises,” says the bishop.

In addition to being the home for three monks and three novices, it is also a retreat not only for those in its church, but also those from other denominations says Bishop Anthony.

The monastery was established in the pretty beauty spot of Langdale End, some seven miles from Scarborough, in 1993.

The monks and novices at St Athanasius Monastery, come from a wide range of backgrounds - two of the novices are Germany physicians, while other monks include a former civil engineer and an accountant, pharmacist,and a surgeon and a physics company supervisor.

It is set in 23 acres where the monks keep sheep, pigs, bees, chickens and grow vegetables.

The monastery is seeking to have a new generation of novices, and to provide a religious retreat, says Bishop Anthony.

St Athanasius is recognised by the Coptic Orthodox religion - it dates back more than 2000 years - as being the Father of Orthodoxy, and he eventually became its Pope.

“All the monks have university degrees and have been leaders in their professional lives,” said Bishop Anthony who has headed the church for 17 years.

The monastery has links with the Catholic Ampleforth Abbey and other religions in Britain. “It is significant that the monastery was built by the Quaker Rowntree family because of its seclusion and its tranquillity,” he said.

The monastery’s planning application to build an extension to provide 25 cells for future monks is due to be decided by the National Park’s planning committee.