Vandals smash priceless stained glass window in 15th-century Yorkshire chapel

Our Lady of the Crag is a medieval chapel hewn into the Nidd Gorge
Our Lady of the Crag is a medieval chapel hewn into the Nidd Gorge
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A Grade I-listed chapel built in 1409 has been vandalised by mindless yobs.

They targeted the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag, a unique place of worship and pilgrimage beside the Nidd Gorge in Knaresborough.

The chapel is cut out of the sandstone in the cliff face, and was built as a place of prayer. It was listed in 1952 and is now maintained by a charitable trust.

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North Yorkshire Police said that some time between the afternoon of Sunday 8 September and Tuesday 10 September, a grill was ripped off a stained glass window, the window smashed and a door handle broken.

A large boulder was thrown at the 14th-century glass to break it.

The window frame, leaded separators and glass are now being sent to conservators to see if they can be salvaged and repaired.

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said:

“This mindless vandalism has damaged an extremely special place that is an important and unique part of Knaresborough’s history. The whole community will rightly be shocked and saddened by this incident. Someone will know who is responsible, so we would urge them to do the right thing and contact the police.”

If you have information that could assist the investigation, please call North Yorkshire Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Please quote reference number 12190168226.

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A history of Our Lady of the Crag

The Crown gave permission for the chapel to be built - its original use was as a rest and prayer spot for pilgrims travelling to the shrine at Knaresborough Priory.

The chapel was deconsecrated during the Reformation, although it was used for secret Catholic worship in later centuries.

At one point, there were rough 'shanty' homes hewn into the Crag, and there are still marks on the standstone that show where they stood. They were gone by the end of the Victorian period.

The chapel became a shrine in 1916 and later passed into the ownership of Ampleforth Abbey, who maintained it for 100 years until transferring it into the care of a local volunteer group in 2016.