Gillamoor St Aidan

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.

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.