Village church’s bid to attract more visitors

The vicar of one of the oldest and most historic churches in the North, Stonegrave Minster near Helmsley is seeking to attract pilgrims and tourists – because many of the parish’s congregation attend a local Catholic church.
Stonegrave Minster near Helmsley.Stonegrave Minster near Helmsley.
Stonegrave Minster near Helmsley.

The picture-postcard village has a population of only 70, but they are largely Catholics, with the faith’s Ampleforth Abbey nearby, says the Rev Dr Catherine Reid.

The minster, which dates back to the 6th Century, is famed for its links with the author Herbert Read, who is buried in the churchyard, and the 15th Century English literature author and manuscript expert, Robert Thornton, who was buried in the minster. But with just a handful of congregation members, Dr Reid is out to enhance the minster’s appeal because of its great wealth of artefacts and relics dating back many centuries.

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In addition to her initiative to attract pilgrims and church historians, Dr Reid now has special services in the summer months, with the Helmsley Chamber Choir, which has resulted in the church being almost packed.

She and the church council are also developing an exhibition in commemoration of Herbert Read and have plans to erect a memorial to Robert Thornton, who was noted for collecting and copying English and Latin writings.

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