Old St Stephen’s Church

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Things to do


Date of travel

February, 2016

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This tiny box shaped church with a small cupola bell tower sits high above Robin Hood’s Bay, surrounded by open farmland. On a cold, damp and blowy winter day this feels a very isolated site. The church was built in 1821, replacing an earlier church and is a wonderful survival of an untouched Georgian church.

Although no longer used, the inside of the church is beautifully maintained with painted plaster walls and woodwork. It is a throw back to earlier times with box pews and a three decker pulpit with a small sounding board above it. The clerk sat at the bottom with the reader’s desk behind it. The sermon of hell fire and damnation was thundered out for the top floor with the vicar towering above the congregation. Above the chancel arch is the Royal Coat of Arms.

A gallery with the organ, is supported on tall pillars and runs round the west and north walls. This provided extra seating on plain wooden benches. At the end of the north gallery is a private pew with green baize.

At the back of the church is the font, which is a C17th survivor of the earlier church.

The chancel is very simple with a plain wooden altar and plain communion rail. On either side of the east window are boards with the Ten Commandments. On the north wall is a funeral hatchment of one of the Farsyde family, local gentry. This would be part of the funeral procession and would be hung above the door of the deceased house for the period of mourning, before being hung in the church.

Hanging in the nave is a replica of a maiden’s garland. The garlands were made by friends of a young woman who died before she was married and were carried in front of the coffin at her funeral. A wooden frame of hazel rods were covered with calico and decorated with ribbons and best dress material as well as rosettes and flowers.

The originals have been dating from around the 1850s are rare survivors and have been carefully restored and now hang at the back of the church, behind glass.

It is a delightful church and well worth stopping to visit. The church closed in 1870 being replaced by “New St Stephen’s Church”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/yorkshire/north_yorkshire/north_yorkshire_two/robinhood_new/index.html in Robin Hood’s Bay. It is in the care of the “Churches Conservation Trust”:http://www.visitchurches.org.uk/Ourchurches/Completelistofchurches/St-Stephens-Church-Fylingdales-North-Yorkshire/ and open daily. Set on a cross roads on the approach to Robin Hood’s Bay, there is a small parking area on Church Lane (turn left at the cross roads and then first right) by the path to the church. The nearest post code is YO22 4PN and the grid reference is NZ 941059.

There are more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/yorkshire/north_yorkshire/north_yorkshire_two/robinhood_old/index.html


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