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Draft minutes of BMPC meeting 03/07/2019

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St Hilda, Bilsdale Priory

Within Bilsdale there are St Hilda's and St John's churches, chapels at Chop Gate and Fangdale Beck, both closed, and the former Friends Meeting House at Laskill.

St Hilda's Church is set on the roadside between the hamlets of Urra and Seave Green, Chop Gate. 

The church is still regularly used as a place of worship and times for services can be found within the What's On section on the Bilsdale.org home page.

St Hilda's contacts:

Vicar:  Reverend Dr Anne Heading,
01642 710045

Churchwardens:  Carol McGee, 01642 778217; Dennis Easton, 01439 798303

Treasurer:  Jill Cunningham, 01642 778250

Key Holders:  John and Anne Rees, 01642 778377

The safeguarding policy for St Hilda's Church is here.

The History of St Hilda's

The earliest records of the church are in 1122, but it is probable that the site had been used for religious purposes much earlier.  When repairs were being made to the church in 1813 an inscribed stone from the early church was discovered.  This is now set above the porch doorway, it reads:

"COONDDIT ECLEE SIAAM WIILLELMVVS NOBLIS ISTAA OO INTEMERRATE NOOMMIINNE SCE VIIRGINNIIS HILDE"

which translates as "Lord William builds this church in honour of the chaste virgin St Hilda".  William the Noble was the father or uncle of Walter Espec, the Lord of Helmsley who in 1122 founded the Priory of Kirkham and in 1132 the Abbey of Rievaulx.   In 1145 Walter Espec gave much of Bilsdale to Rievaulx and a little later granted the church and surrounding area, subsequently known as Bilsdale Kirkham, to Kirkham Priory.            St Hilda

The original church dedicated to St Hilda was probably built as a place of worship for those who farmed the priory lands.  Very little is known about the early architecture of the church building but a simple Norman font, with marks indicating that it had a lockable cover (so about 12/13C), can be seen in the porch.  A medieval carved head, crosses and fragments of window tracery are now kept within the church.  The Tenor Bell is inscribed "Ave Maria Mater" and has the mark of Walter of Easingwold, a potter of York, who obtained his freedom to trade in 1327.  Although the treble bell is not inscribed it is also thought to date back to about 1300.

There are records of the incumbents from 1407.

Following the dissolution of Kirkham Priory in 1539, ownership of Bilsdale Kirkham and patronage of the church passed to the Manners family, Earl of Rutland, who retained most of the area until 1801 when the Duncombe family purchased it to complete their ownership of Bilsdale.

The present church was commissioned by the Earl of Feversham, and designed by Banks and Barry, St James, London in 1848.  The building was constructed by George Vasey of Whitby.  He and his 16 workers stayed at Bilsdale Hall during construction which was completed in 1853.

The Parish was divided in 1896 when a new church, St John's, was built at Fangdale Beck and a new ecclesiastical parish, Bilsdale Midcable, was created.  However in 1953 it was decided that the two churches should share the same vicar, who resided in the vicarage at Fangdale Beck.  In 1974 the parish of St Hilda's came under the care of the vicar of Ingleby Greenhow.  It is now part of the United Benefice of Bilsdale Priory, Ingleby Greenhow, Kildale and Kirkby in Cleveland.

Today St Hilda's is loved and cared for by the local community and attracts many visitors.  The churchyard has daffodils, bluebells, hare bells and many other wild flowers and is a haven for wild animals, birds and insects.  

Church services have diversified in recent years to attract families including lambing, pet and toy services to name but a few.  St Hilda's hosts an annual Christmas tree festival, concerts, bygone displays and works in close partnership with Chop Gate C of E school hosting leavers services, Christingles, harvest festivals and Easter services.

St Hilda's is also a wonderful place for a wedding.  If you are interested in having your wedding at St Hilda's then please contact either Rev. Anne or Carol McGee. The church is also part of the St Hilda's trail from Whitby.

In 2014 essential repairs were carried out to the North Nave roof. Investigation of the rest of the roof revealed some water ingress and lime gravel from the South Nave roof dropping into the church. The Chancel, Porch and Vestry roofs were also in very poor condition.  Thanks to a Listed Place of Worship grant, partnership monies and grants from other sources the church has now been reroofed apart from the Vestry and North Chancel.

The church is locked but there is a notice in the porch stating where a key can be obtained.

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