Lealholm St James

This appealing church has Temple Moore character in abundance.

St James's sits in an elevated position on the hillside above the River Esk, overlooking the village of Lealholm. It was built at a cost of £1,283 to save local Anglicans from having to walk the two miles to their nearest church in Glaisdale. Notable features of the building include a terrazzo floor, the only one Moore ever designed.

Pevsner praised Moore's work on St James's as “a job to do him credit”. With its subtle detailing and unfussy use of materials, it is clearly a product of his artistic maturity. His architectural appreciation of form is everywhere in evidence.

The almost semi-circular ceiling, with its longitudinal boarding, is of a type that Moore used in numerous locations, except that here it is complemented by a pointed chancel arch. The same acute aesthetic judgement is evident in the careful scaling of details and the asymmetry of the windows, and in the little windows to the sedile and piscina, similar to those at St Botolph's in Carlton-in-Cleveland. The small west tower is a recognisable Moore feature.

Lealholm also has a Catholic church, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, and a Methodist chapel. Catholicism flourished behind closed doors in Eskdale after the Reformation, but for some reason the area became the focus for persecution. In the 17th century a priest called Father Nicholas Postgate from nearby Egton Bridge was arrested during a raid on a house near Whitby where he was carrying out a baptism. On the 7th August 1679, at the age of 82, he was hanged, disembowelled and quartered at York. 

John Castillo (1792–1845), the so-called Bard of the Dales, was a local stonemason, preacher and poet who lived in for much of his life in Lealholm. He is best known for his interminable dialect poems, which would test the patience of even the most ardent Yorkshireman. But he also wrote poems in standard English, such as this one about Lealholm.