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St Aidan's Church

A Grade II* Listed Building in Helmsley, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2721 / 54°16'19"N

Longitude: -1.0646 / 1°3'52"W

OS Eastings: 461014

OS Northings: 486673

OS Grid: SE610866

Mapcode National: GBR PM01.BB

Mapcode Global: WHF9K.MW8B

Entry Name: St Aidan's Church

Listing Date: 13 February 2001

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1392849

English Heritage Legacy ID: 505889

Location: Helmsley, Ryedale, North Yorkshire, YO62

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale

Civil Parish: Helmsley

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Helmsley All Saints

Church of England Diocese: York

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Listing Text

The entry for:-
(East side)
St Aidan's Church


Shall be replaced by:-


336/4/10003 CARLTON
13-FEB-01 (East side)


Church, daughter to Helmsley parish church, 1884-7, by Temple Moore, commissioned by Rev. Charles Gray. Early gothic.

Sandstone rubble laid to irregular courses. Darker ashlar quoins and copings which are irregularly sized and rough faced to rear. Plain tile roof.

West tower with nave and chancel as a single body.

Tower: Square on plan. To the west face is a single narrow lancet. Above, the bell-cote stage has paired, lancet bell-openings each with a circular opening above: the lancets being double chamfered and the circular openings with quatrefoil plate tracery. There are string courses at the level of the cill and spring line of the lancet bell openings. These openings are repeated to all four faces with the lancets omitted from the east face. The tower is topped by a pyramidal roof surmounted by metal cross finial.

Nave/Chancel: South elevation has a projecting ashlar door surround which is gabled, incorporating a deeply moulded, round arched doorway. This follows late C12 models, the projection having a small niche with a Christ figure to the apex. The door surround is subtly asymmetric. The double doors are planked and incorporate ornate ironwork. To the right (east) are 3 small, chamfered lancet windows.
The east elevation has three lancet windows, a small circular ventilation opening above that is blocked and an inscribed foundation stone below. The coped gable is surmounted by a stone Celtic cross.
The north elevation is blind except for a single small lancet at the western end (opposite the south door). Immediately to the east there is a square chimney stack built of ashlar that projects through the roof, but does not extend above the ridgeline.

The church has a wagon roof that is longitudinally boarded to give a continuous, almost semicircular ceiling. This is painted and has stencilled decoration. The walls are whitewashed and the window reveals are deep and splayed. The reveal of the eastern-most window in the southern wall is enlarged to form a sedilium with piscina. The floor is undecorated parquet with a single step to the chancel, a step to the sanctuary and a further step to the altar. The east end has a panelled dado with a central open frame containing a small later triptych. The east windows have late medieval style stained glass possibly by the firm of Kempe & Co.. These are First World War memorial windows. The central southern window is another memorial window with similar stained glass.

All designed by Moore, including the painted decoration.
The stone topped altar is timber and retains its original painted and stencilled decoration. The timber chancel screen is also painted and incorporates bench seating for a small choir. Its design suggests that the church was designed to do without either a pulpit or lectern. The font, centrally placed opposite the north window, is octagonal and is supported on eight fluted piers on 2 ashlar steps. The cover is wooden. The west end has a painted cupboard for prayer books and a painted wooden tower screen with door. The pine pews are also thought to have been designed by Moore.
The tower retains three bells.

St Aidan's Church was commissioned by the vicar of Helmsley, Rev. Charles Gray, and was designed by Temple Moore, probably in 1884, and built in 1885-7 for an estimated £530 including the internal fittings and decoration. The only significant alteration to the church has been the installation of stained glass into four of the windows following the First World War which make the sanctuary significantly darker than Moore probably intended.

St Aidan's is Moore's earliest surviving church designed independently from his mentor and partner George Gilbert Scott junior (Moore's first solo church, St Bartholomew's mission church in Dover (1883-4), has been demolished). Moore was taken on by Scott as a pupil in 1875, but by about 1880, Moore (then aged 24) was gradually taking over the practice because of Scott's deteriorating mental health. Moore became regarded as the country's leading church architect of the Edwardian period, building 38 new churches in England, nearly all being listed, and restoring many more, taking on Scott's son (Sir Giles Gilbert Scott - designer of Liverpool Anglican cathedral) as a pupil. St Aidan's church is of particular interest because it demonstrates many aspects characteristic of Moore's later work, both in terms of style and individual features:

Moore avoided the over elaboration of decorative detailing favoured by his more florid contemporaries, the quality of his designs drawing on "good proportion and sweetness of line" (The Builder 1902 quoted by Brandwood, p 178). As at St Aidan's, he often used variations in walling texture to provide visual interest, the irregular ashlar dressing being particularly of note. He also frequently played with asymmetry both on a large scale (the imbalance of windows between the north and south walls) and a small scale (the asymmetric decorative details of the south doorway). Another key approach displayed at St Aidan's was to design his churches to give the appearance that they had evolved over time. The great thickness of walls at St Aidan's with wide splayed windows is also typical, although it is not known if the walls (like some of his later designs) are in fact hollow. Carving out features from this wall thickness (tower detailing and the sedilium) is also characteristic; the unusual incorporation of a window in the sedilium was used more elaborately later at Carlton in Cleveland. The boarded wagon roof was a particularly favourite approach of Moore, a feature of a large proportion of his later churches. A similar design was employed at St Mary Magdalene, East Moors by Scott (which Moore had completed in 1881-2 and is II* listed), thus potentially demonstrating some continuity in thinking. Even the simple and plain detailing of the floor can be seen as being characteristic, deliberately avoiding distracting tile work often used elsewhere in the later C19. There are also some more individual features that are repeated later such as the small round openings high in the tower also employed at St Columba Middlesbrough (Listed II) and St Wilfrid's Harrogate (Listed I), and the tower roof also seen at the unlisted cemetery chapel at Brompton near Scarborough. Moore was also a prolific and notable designer of church furnishings, many of which still survive, often specifically noted in listing descriptions. Following Arts and Crafts thinking, the furnishings exhibit a high degree of craftsmanship and individual design. Their level of survival at St Aidan's is exceptional (retaining the original colour schemes that have apparently not even been retouched) and the fact that they are within a church by the same designer adds further interest.

Especially considering Moore was only 28 when he designed St Aidan's, the design is remarkably assured. Pevsner (1966) describes the way that the church "affords a sense of physical and spiritual shelter". The size and distribution of the tiny windows demonstrates deliberate and clever use of lighting to focus attention on the altar. This ties in with the furnishings which show that the church was intended for Eucharistic worship with no provision for preaching giving a spacious and uncluttered feel to the interior rare for a small church of its period.

St Aidan's is one of a group of buildings commissioned by Charles Gray and Lord Feversham in the Helmsley area, all designed by George Gilbert Scott junior and Temple Moore. This group of buildings, sharing patrons and designers, is potentially of significant architectural interest as a group: the linkages between St Aidan's and the II* listed church at East Moors being particularly of interest.

Geoffery Brandwood, 1997 "Temple Moore"
Nikolaus Pevsner, 1966 "Buildings of England: Yorkshire, the North Riding"

St Aidan's Church is designated grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* As one of Temple Moore's earliest works independent of George Gilbert Scott, it demonstrates a wide range of features and approaches used by Moore later in his career, with Moore becoming perhaps the most accomplished gothic revival architect of the early C20.
* Although apparently architecturally modest, the assured design results in a building of considerable interest, atmosphere and quality.
* The survival of an effectively unaltered church complete with its original suite of internal furnishings and decoration, all being by Moore, is particularly of note.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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