'Ramblers' church' in Yorkshire village which appeared in ITV drama is vandalised and trashed by group who left fake apology note

A redundant Anglican chapel in a small North Yorkshire village has been vandalised by a group who left an 'apology' note including a fake phone number.

Grade II-listed St Mary's Church, Lead, which stands in isolated fields near the village of Saxton, near Tadcaster, is no longer used for regular worship but remains a consecrated building.

It is close to the site of the Battle of Towton - which was fought during the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century - and was saved from dereliction in the 1930s by a group of walkers, giving it the name 'the ramblers' church'.

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The volunteer Friends group who care for the chapel, which is managed by the Churches Conservation Trust, confirmed on Facebook that a group of vandals had broken into the building on Saturday night: "A sickening sight this morning...litter, smashed vases, glass everywhere, and worst of all the cross broken too. To add insult to injury, a note of apology with a fake phone number. There's nothing to be done, everything is cleared and mended but I wanted to share what we have to deal with sometimes."

St Mary's Church in Saxton, near Tadcaster

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The chapel is always open as a place of refuge and the offenders, who left behind wristbands from a festival or event they had attended, even scrawled rude messages in the visitors' book.

The 14th-century chapel was already standing when the Battle of Towton took place and was thought to have originally been part of a medieval manor which no longer exists. An even earlier chapel is thought to have stood on the site and graves from the ninth century were discovered during excavations in 1934.

It had fallen into ruin by 1931, and despite being saved, repaired and rededicated, it closed for worship in 1980 as the local population had declined.

It was used as a filming location for the 2016 ITV period drama Dark Angel, which starred Joanne Froggatt as the Victorian serial killer Mary Ann Cotton.