There were sheep with their shepherds in the fields surrounding Bolton Abbey near Skipton this week as hundreds of people followed Mary, Joseph and the Donkey on their journey through the ancient Abbey ruins to a small specially built stable overlooking the River Wharfe.
The Bolton Abbey Players joined with children and families from Bolton Priory church to stage an outdoor nativity 'with live animals' for the first time – and judging from the crowds that turned out in their hundreds it won’t be the last time.
The baby Jesus was played by one of the youngest members of Bolton Priory Sunday children’s service, Oliver Metcalfe. His Mum played an angel and his big sister Eva played a cherub.
On the hills overlooking the river, the shepherds were startled and thrown into confusion by the appearance of the Angel Gabriel, before recovering their wits to lead their sheep to the manger.
Meanwhile an imposing Herod had called in the three Wise Men to his throne room in the Abbey nave to find out where the new King had been born.
Mulled wine and mince pies kept the audience warm and fed as they followed the action.
Rector of Bolton Priory, Canon Simon Cowling said that it had been a lovely community event which had brought together the church and the Abbey in an important joint venture. “With three hundred people at the 12noon performance and another 200 or so at the 2pm performance it was almost too many! But it was a great success in the end thanks to the support we have received from the Bolton Abbey estate which has enabled this to happen.”
Photos by John Carter with additional photo credit to national prizewinning photographer Stephen Garnett of Skipon (pictures top left and top right)