Local church histories brought back to life in summer festival

FORGOTTEN stories from Yorkshire's neighbourhood churches are to be retold as part of a summer-long event aimed at shedding new light on what organisers are calling Britain's most undervalued heritage.

Selby Abbey

Dr Chris Tuckley, of York Archaeological Trust, which oversees the annual Church Explorers festival, said many people who passed by the churches every day were unaware of their history.

He said: “Our churches are like giant storybooks, made in stone, and full of amazing stories.

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“If they were manuscripts, they would be under lock and key in national museums, the envy of the world, and yet we pass by them in our neighbourhoods, unaware of their secrets and their importance,”

Among the churches taking part in this year’s event is Saint Olave’s on Marygate Lane in York, which was mentioned in the 1055 Anglo-Saxon chronicle as the first to be dedicated to St Olaf, before any in Scandinavia.

Selby Abbey, which is also taking part, was the first monastery to be founded in the north of England after the Norman conquest, and contains medieval features that have survived intact despite the Dissolution in 1539.

The Rt Rev Dr John Thomson, Bishop of Selby said, “Church Explorers is a great way to encourage people to visit their region’s churches. They tell the rich stories of their communities over the generations and are still full of life today.”