Gillamoor St Aidan

Name: St Aidan's

Date of Temple Moore Work: 1883, 1908

Work done: Restoration and fittings

Church Description

A church adapted to the Yorkshire weather - there are no windows on the north or east sides!

Temple Moore was drafted in to restore St Aidan's after his work at East Moors and before his first solo church, also called St Aidan's, at Carlton. He was given a rather glowing recommendation by Vicar Gray, who stretched the truth a little to make him sound more experienced than he actually was.

Opening times: The church is open from April to October, though there are a few (wide) steps up to the porch making limited access for mobility scooters. During winter months a key is available should visitors ask.


St Aidan's was first built in the 12th century. In 1802 a local stonemason, James Smith, singlehandedly rebuilt it out of stone brought from a church in Bransdale. Some screen fragments from the original medieval church survived, but otherwise the rebuilt church was Georgian and low-church in character. Vicar Gray turned to Temple Moore to restore it to its supposed gothic prime.

Gray's support was hugely significant in Moore's career at a time when recommendation was the way most commissions were won. All his work for Lord Feversham came through Vicar Gray. By any account the vicar was a remarkable, larger-than-life character who swept all before him. He was certainly the kind of man you'd rather have on your side than on that of your opponent: his letters of complaint could be as waspish as his letters of recommendation were glowing. It is a testament to Moore's tact that he worked with Vicar Gray for many years. He was asked back to Gillamoor in 1908 to provide the screen, panelling, lectern and reredos.

The churchyard looks out over the celebrated panorama known as Surprise View. It extends across Farndale to Spaunton Moor beyond. The memorial cross in front of the church is a 2012 replacement for the 1920 original, which was damaged beyond repair by a car.

There is a benchmark carved into the south-west angle of the church. A benchmark is an Ordnance Survey symbol rather like an arrowhead. Each one marks a place where the altitude above sea-level has been accurately measured by a surveyor. They are often found on walls, bridges and on churches, as well as the specially built triangulation pillars. The arrowhead points upwards to a horizontal line which marks the exact altitude — 158m in the case of the one at St Aidan's.

Things to do nearby

Rudland Rigg

The old road from Stokesley to Kirkbymoorside is a stony track laid across the moor. Rudland Rigg is its highest section, where it runs along the crest of the high land between Bransdale and Farndale (rigg is the Old Norse word for "ridge" or "spine"). It's a favourite with mountain bikers, but it's just as rewarding for walkers. Park in Low Mill, labour your way up the hill, and then relax and enjoy the spellbinding views.


Absurdly pretty village with a babbling beck running through the middle and sheep nibbling the green. Honey-coloured cottages, craft shops, pub and cafes. The village is also home to Ryedale Folk Museum.

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.

Cropton Brewery

The New Inn Cropton YO18 8HH

01751 417 330

One of the first comers in the modern trend for microbreweries, Cropton Brewery has been turning out the Beautiful Drink since 1984. Having said that, brewing has been going on in Cropton since 1613. At that time it was illegal and rogue brewers were liable for a stretch in York gaol. Three hundred and one years later, on the nail, and with the law a tad more relaxed, Cropton Brewery was hatched in the cellars of the New Inn. It was an instant hit with the punters, who loved the first brew so much that a new batch had to be hurried into the vats. Important note to beer-lovers: if your husband/wife/partner shows signs of reluctance, remember you're supporting a local business. It's an awful sacrifice, but someone has to do it.

The Band Room

East Farndale YO62 7LE

01751 432900

By the roadside near the tiny village of Low Mill in Farndale is a corrugated iron shed. Except it isn't: it's a tiny and splendidly idiosyncratic music venue called the Band Room. Built for the Farndale Silver Band in the 1920's, it has a capacity of 100, a great atmosphere, and a determinedly homespun ethic. Acts tend to be drawn from the worlds of folk, blues and Americana, and they're often big names, if you're familiar with the scene. Shows are few and far between, but it's worth checking if there's anything on — the trick's in the timing.

Cawthorn Camps

Near Cropton, north of Pickering

Roman military complex high on a wooded promontory at the edge of the Tabular Hills, overlooking the moors. A waymarked trail takes you around the earthworks. To get the most of your visit it's worth going armed with the guidebook published by the North York Moors National Park Authority. It can't be bought on site, so pick up a copy in Pickering or at the New Inn in Cropton before you go. Entry free.

Moors National Park Centre

Danby YO21 2NB

01439 772737

The North York Moors National Park's flagship visitor centre, housed in a beautiful old shooting lodge on the banks of the River Esk. Tourist information centre, fascinating exhibition about the Moors, lovely grounds, art gallery, woodland walks, cafe and shop. Surrounded by spectacular countryside.

Where to eat and drink

The Royal Oak Inn

Gillamoor YO62 7HX

01751 431 414

Comfortable and friendly little pub; with open log fires and oak-beamed ceilings. Good cask ales and good food cooked fresh to order.

The Blacksmith's Arms

Lastingham YO62 6TN

01751 417247

Characterful country pub with a good reputation for food.

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.

The Crown Inn

Hutton le Hole YO62 6UA

01751 417343

Traditional country pub serving unfussy pub grub.

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