The former Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope, has taken part in a service of Thanksgiving for the restoration of a medieval Dales church which is now able to open its doors to visitors, pilgrims and tourists.
Grants totally more than £100,000 together with generous giving from the local community mean that the 15th century church of St. Michael the Archangel, Kirkby Malham, in the centre of Malhamdale has been reroofed, replastered, and now boasts a new heating and lighting system, disabled toilets and amenities for the whole community.
St. Michael’s is the parish church for a large area serving the communities of Airton, Calton, Hanlith, Kirkby Malham, Malham, Malham Moor, Otterburn, and Scosthrop. The church is a large Grade 1 listed building built around 1490 on the site of an earlier church founded by monks from the Abbey of West Dereham in Norfolk in 1199. It is fondly known locally as ‘the Cathedral of the Dales’, and is recognised as one of the outstanding churches of the Yorkshire Dales.
It received £99,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund – ‘Our Heritage’ scheme together with grants from the Headley Trust (part of the Sainsbury Trusts) for £3,500, and the North Craven Heritage Trust for £1,000.
Some of the money is being spent on an improved website and information for visitors. It includes a new website, visitor trails, better signage to the church and a brochure for hotels, pubs and B&Bs in the National Park.
“It is hoped that, in addition to the regular church services, the building will provide an excellent venue for concerts, performances and other events which will be enjoyed by the whole community of Malhamdale and beyond” said PCC member, Carol Ballard.
Last Sunday the local community filled the church for the thanksgiving service. Led by the Vicar, Rev'd Geoffrey Spencer, there were performances by the children's music group, the adult music group and the choir and former Archbishop David Hope preached the sermon.
Visitor are welcome to pop in for the first concert, an organ recital, taking place at 3pm this Sunday 26 November.