Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DST to 80360 or email us
Mass celebrations for Lady’s shrine
THIS coming Sunday, September 11, marks the 50th anniversary of the rebuilding of the ancient shrine of Our Lady at Osmotherley.
It stands in the hills some 200 feet above the ruins of Mount Grace Priory, although access is via a stony half-mile track whose entrance is on the way from Osmotherley towards the Sheepwash Reservoir and Swainby.
There will be a special Mass celebrated by Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool and Abbot Cuthbert Madden OSB of Ampleforth Abbey.
Several hundred people of all denominations are expected for the outdoor ceremony that begins at 3pm, with the congregation assembling from 2.30pm.
This event takes the place of the usual annual pilgrimage that marks the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – that pilgrimage is normally on the Sunday nearest to her feast day which is August 15 but this year, it has been postponed until 2012.
The present chapel is not the original, being re-built in 1961 after the ruins were re-discovered by three young Catholic priests during a cycle ride from Middlesbrough.
Its predecessor was the Lady Chapel of Mount Grace Priory, a magnificent and historic Carthusian foundation in the valley below. One of only nine Carthusian houses in England, the Priory was founded in 1396 by Thomas Holland, the Duke of Surrey, Earl of Kent, and nephew of King Richard II.
He named the monastery the House of Mount Grace of Ingleby, and it was dedicated to The Virgin Mary and St Nicholas.
Some years later, Thomas died in an insurrection against Henry VI and was buried at Cirencester, but in 1412, his remains were taken to Mount Grace Priory and re-interred. The location of his grave is unknown.
Mount Grace Priory became highly successful but was closed by Henry VIII's commissioners in 1535 when he separated the English Church from Rome and established himself – and future sovereigns – as supreme Governor of the Church of England.
However, the Lady Chapel in the hills above the Priory was built in 1515, only twenty years before Mount Grace Priory was destroyed.
There was a route to it from the Priory below – it was a steep climb known as The Lady's Steps – and the Lady Chapel's grounds became the burial place for the monks.
After the Priory was dissolved, the Lady Chapel fell into disuse and there is no doubt it suffered during the Edwardine Visitations. Edward VI was the son of Henry VIII and the first English sovereign to be brought up as a Protestant. He was only nine when he ascended the throne and, under the guidance of the Privy Council, set about eradicating Catholicism from England.
In 1538 he issued injunctions that condemned “wandering to pilgrimages”, “kissing of relics” and “such-like superstitions”.
Edward made countless other changes which including stripping parish churches and chapels of all their Catholic artefacts such as statues, rood screens, the altar, wall paintings and prayers in Latin inscribed on the walls. Edward died when he was sixteen.
There is no doubt the Lady Chapel of Mount Grace, like so many other historic parish churches, was subjected to Edward's various injunctions and organised destruction by his travelling commissioners, and so the tiny chapel became a disused wreck and apparently ignored.
In fact it was not ignored by the Catholic population, because the ruins continued to be used, in secret, for pilgrimages.
During the reign of James I (1603-25) it was said “the spot continued to be the goal of secret midnight pilgrimages by diverse and sundrie superstitious and popishly affected persons” (Morris's The North Riding of Yorkshire – Methuen, 1906).
It was recorded that these persons visited the chapel or hermitage especially on “The Lady's and other saints' eves”.
In 1881, the Anglican Archbishop of York, Tobias Matthew, issued a writ in an attempt to prevent these night-time visits.
Today, the Lady Chapel is widely used by various religious groups, not necessarily Catholics, who arrange pilgrimages to the site. Mass is celebrated there every Saturday afternoon at 3.30pm, when the tiny chapel is packed with about forty people. Fortunately there is room in the extensive grounds for any overflow – and there are superb views across the ruins of its parent abbey in the valley below.
Incidentally, there has long been a Catholic presence in Osmotherley that was unbroken even during the Penal Times, and it is said that a local priest invited John Wesley, the Methodist leader, to visit the village.
Mr Wesley arrived on September 17 in 1745, and is said to have preached from the curious table-like stone platform in the centre of Osmotherley.
Mr Wesley recorded in his journal: “I saw the poor remains of the old chapel on the brow of the hill, and those of the Carthusian monastery (called Mount Grace) which lay at the foot of it.”
THE village of Faceby near Stokesley rarely features in the news, but I have recalled some interesting tales and customs that relate to this quiet place.
Apparently, years ago a mole was digging its tunnel in the village when it unearthed a Roman bracelet.
Not appreciating the value of its discovery, it left the bracelet on top of its freshlyexcavated mound, where it was later discovered by a ploughman. I have no further details of this treasure although this was not the only valuable item to be found in the locality. Apparently, a hoard of silver bars was unearthed on nearby Whorl Hill, and they were thought to have been plundered centuries earlier from Whorlton Castle.
One custom practised at Faceby into the middle years of the twentieth century was a dole that was issued each week to twelve needy people.
Twelve charity loaves of bread worth a penny each were given to them in accordance with the terms of a will left by Anthony Lazenby.
He was a merchant tailor in London who died on September 20, 1634, but I am not sure of his links with Faceby.
His will stipulated that the dole should be issued for all time, the money to fund it being collected from four farms in the locality. When anyone bought one of those farms, the new owners also acquired the duty of paying their share of the dole and the money was collected by the vicar until Faceby found itself without a vicar.
As late as 1960, the money was then handed to the village shopkeeper who issued it to deserving people. To my knowledge, she collected the monies as late as 1982, giving four local people a loaf worth 10p. With the passage of time, the custom fell into disuse.
I've also come across another Faceby custom that affected weddings. After the ceremony, the groom and best man would stand at the church gate and throw pennies to the children. I believe similar customs prevailed at other churches in that area and one occurred at Seamer near Scarborough where the Lord of the Manor of Seamer tossed newly-minted coins to infant-school children.
There are similar customs throughout Britain although some seem to be fading into history.
Near Faceby, at the far side of Whorl Hill, there is a charming valley known as Scugdale which was probably a lake in prehistoric times. It is less than three miles long with the hamlet of Huthwaite about half way.
In the 1800s, there was iron ore mining here but no trace remains.
Tiny Scugdale has two claims to fame. One was Elizabeth Harland who achieved fame by dying in 1812 aged 105, whilst another inhabitant was Henry Cooper who, by 1890, had grown to a height of eight feet six inches (2.55m). He was then the tallest man in the world and joined Barnum and Bailey's Circus to tour America, but returned to England to die at the age of only thirty-two.
Comments are closed on this article.