Welburn St Gregorys

Name: St Gregory's Minster

Date of Temple Moore Work: 1907–1909

Work done: Restoration

Church Description

This ancient church, in a lovely setting at the foot of a wooded valley, is one of the most delightful in Yorkshire.

Temple Moore was commissioned to undo alterations made to the church in Georgian times. St Gregory's Minster was built in around 1060, just before the Norman Conquest. The main surviving Saxon features are the narrow arch between the tower and the nave and the sundial above the south doorway. The north aisle was added in about 1200.

St Gregory's Minster is open during the day, although precise times depend on who is on the rota for locking up. Please see www.achurchnearyou.com/kirkdale-st-gregory for information. There is a step to get down to get into the church


Moore removed the west gallery and cleared the fine pre-Conquest west doorway, which had been walled in. In line with the chancel arch he built a stone wall separating the north chapel from the north aisle, to replace an earlier lath-and-plaster partition. At the same time he cleared the arch between the chapel and the chancel, which had been blocked up. Finally, he gave the nave, aisles and porch new roofs, and took out the high pews that had been put in at some point in the 18th or early 19th century and replaced them with oak benches.

The Saxon sundial can be found just above the main door. It is remarkably well preserved, having spent centuries covered in a coat of plaster. The plaster was removed in 1771 when the porch was built, thus providing the sundial with another form of protection from the weather. The Old English inscription on the sundial says: “Orm, son of Gamal, bought St Gregorius Minster when it was all broken and fallen, and he has made it new, in the days of Edward the king and Tosti the earl.” It is from the information in the inscription that we know the approximate date the church was built.

St Gregory's was the family church of the poet and art critic Herbert Read, who grew up nearby and had a lifelong love of the area. His grave, with its inscription “Knight, Poet, Anarchist”, is in the churchyard.

Not far from St Gregory's Minster is the famous Kirkdale Cave. Here, in 1821, some quarrymen came upon enormous quantities of animal bones. The find was brought to the attention of William Buckland, Professor of Geology at Oxford, who identified them as the bones of lions, bears, tigers, elephants, bison, deer, reindeer, rhinoceroses, boars, horses, and wolves. Alongside them were the remains of nearly three hundred hyenas. Buckland concluded that the hyenas had used the cave as a den, dragging their prey inside. The discovery caused a huge sensation at the time, since it seemed to cast doubt on the Biblical account of the history of the world.

Things to do nearby

Pickering Castle

Castlegate Pickering YO18 7AX

01751 474 989


Classic Norman motte-and-bailey castle, looming above a picturesque country town. Free entry for English Heritage members.

Nunnington Hall

Nunnington YO62 5UY

01439 748283


Mellow Elizabethan manor house in a lovely spot on the banks of the River Rye. Art and photography exhibitions, a fine collection of dolls' houses in the attic (the National Trust calls them "miniature rooms") and an organic walled garden with peacocks. Nice tearooms, too.

Castle Howard

Malton YO60 7DA

01653 648333


One of Britain's grandest country houses, forever associated in the minds of those of a certain vintage with the 1980's TV adaption of Brideshead Revisited, which was filmed there. Designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor, the house is set in 1,000 acres of sumptuous parkland. You might swallow hard when you see how much it costs to get in, but if you can stretch to well over a tenner each, it's definitely worth the money. Stay all day and get your money's worth.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Pickering YO18 7AJ

01751 472 508


Nostalgic adventure by steam train, passing through some of the finest countryside in the North York Moors. Pickering to Grosmont and stations in between. Some services go on to Whitby.

Ryedale Folk Museum

Hutton-le-Hole YO62 6UA

01751 417 367


One of England's finest regional museums, fascinating, inventive and beautifully presented. Reconstructed buildings and displays of material culture down the ages offer a moving insight into the history of rural life in the region. If you want to get to know the North York Moors, this is the place to come. Highly recommended.

Helmsley Castle

Castlegate Helmsley YO62 5AB

01439 770442


A thousand years of Yorkshire weather haven't quite finished off this splendid old ruin. It was built after the Norman Conquest by the Bond-villainesque-sounding Walter L'Espec. In Tudor times it was converted into a mansion, but it could still hold its own as a military fortress, as it showed during the English Civil War when it was besieged by Parliamentarian troops. The Royalist forces inside held out for three months before surrendering. Parliament ordered that the castle's defences should be partially demolished, and they have remained in a state of romantic dilapidation ever since. Complete wheelchair (and pushchair) access at ground level. English Heritage members get in free.

Duncombe Park

Helmsley YO62 5EB

01439 770213


It's a shame the house isn't open to the public anymore, but the grounds are lovely. Half of Duncombe Park's 450 acres (182 hectares) of parkland are managed as a National Nature Reserve. It contains some of Britain's oldest and tallest broadleaved trees, many of which are nearly as old as the house itself.

Helmsley Walled Garden

Cleveland Way Helmsley YO62 5AH

01439 771427


One of Helmsley's hidden gems, tucked out of sight under the castle ramparts. The Walled Garden was created to supply fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers to the Duncombe Park estate. It fell into disuse in the 1970's, but in 1994 a determined band of local enthusiasts set out to restore it to its former glory. Today it is once again a working kitchen garden, where you can choose from a huge range of plants, vegetables, and seasonal fruits, or just savour the wonderfully tranquil atmosphere. The Vinehouse cafe serves delicious vegetarian food using produce grown in the garden.

Where to eat and drink

Penny Bank Cafe

Kirkbymoorside YO62 6AA

01751 432606


A lively cafe in the daytime and a bistro in the evening. Fine food with a Mediterranean touch. Prides itself on its excellent coffee. Relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Star Inn

Harome YO62 5JE

01439 770397


Award-winning, Egon Rony-endorsed gastropub. Lovely thatch-roofed building. Superb "modern Yorkshire" cuisine. You're unlikely to get a table in the restaurant if you turn up on spec, so advance booking is advisable, although the same menu is available in the bar on a first-come-first-served basis.

Desi Spice Club

Beadlam YO62 7SU

01439 772400


Former village pub, now an Indian restaurant. The locals (1) grumbled when the pub shut, (2) went along to the new restaurant out of curiosity, and now (3) fill the place every Friday night. Which is a pretty good form of recommendation.

The George & Dragon Hotel

Kirkbymoorside YO62 6AA

01751 433334


The pleasant market town of Kirkbymoorside sports a number of entirely acceptable eateries, but you can't go far wrong with this one. Good quality food, local real ales and a great selection of wines in the bar, bistro and award winning restaurant.

The Appletree Country Inn

Marton YO62 6RD

01751 433189


Lovely pub with an imaginative menu, a welcoming atmosphere and genuinely friendly service.

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