Knaresborough's lost 'saint' to be recognised with series of events

St Robert may never have actually been officially canonised by the churc h but his hometown of Knaresborough is not going to let that get in the way of celebrations for his 800th anniversary.

The Rev Garry Hinchliffe of St John's Church outside St Roberts Cave in Knaresborough.

In another sign that the town is making renewed efforts to capitalise on its deep wealth of history, a whole programme is planned to celebrate this milestone in 2018.Since the launch event at Gracious Street Methodist Church last September, the St Robert’s Anniversary Committee has made impressive progress on plans for the year ahead.So far the list includes 20 different events throughout the year, though more are expected.Among them are a musical extravaganza, a Knaresborough Mummers play, a bank holiday pilgrimage and a talk on his legacy by renowned academics.The Vicar at St John the Baptist Church in Knaresborough, The Rev Garry Hinchcliffe said: “Although never officially canonised Robert has for many centuries held a very important place in the heart of Yorkshire and is one of the ‘saints’ vying for the prestigious title of being patron saint for the county.“We feel it is important to recognise him and honour him for his links to our wonderful town.”Writing in 1250, the historian Matthew Paris named Robert as one of the leading ‘personalities’ of the 13th century, a period of great religious and spiritual energy and devotion. Although St. Robert is little known today, the cave in Abbey Road where he lived brought pilgrims in great numbers for centuries until the dissolution of the monasteries under King Henry VIII.The official 800th anniversary of St Robert’s death this year is September 24 but the committee are planning their biggest celebrations for feva and the weekend of September 21-23.As well as events, 2018 will see other St Robert’s activities including a short story competition, an artwork competition, a St Robert’s menu, a Great British Spring Clean including his cave and a new St Robert’s beer from Knaresborough’s Roosters brewery.The committee also hope to have new St Robert’s signage erected in conjunction with Harrogate Borough Council.

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The historic plaque to St Robert in Knaresborough.
The historic plaque to St Robert in Knaresborough.