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Stainburn hosts fundraising opera night at historic church

St Mary's Church at Stainburn. Pictures by Gary Longbottom.
St Mary's Church at Stainburn. Pictures by Gary Longbottom.
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A tiny hamlet on a fundraising mission is preparing to host a performance of opera singers with national pedigree.

Stainburn is a small, traditional farming community in Wharfedale, ten miles north of Leeds in the Harrogate district, that boasts a historical gem dating back to Norman times - but it is in need of attention.

The population of the wider civil parish was estimated at 120 in 2015.

The population of the wider civil parish was estimated at 120 in 2015.

In order to raise much-needed funds to further the conservation of St Mary’s, an ancient, semi-redundant Grade I listed church, a group of locals have called upon the talents of four touring Opera North singers, the Evermair ensemble, to give a one-off fundraising performance at the venue on June 1.

Proceeds from the event will go towards the churchyard’s upkeep and to The Churches Conservation Trust which has cared for the fabric of the church since it was vested to them in 1977. Among plans for the site is the addition of new oak gates at churchyard’s entrance.

A fundraising raffle to be held on the night features prizes from Brora, The Brown Trout, York Racecourse, Yorkshire Agricultural Society, Rudding Park, Liddle Lamb, J. E. Hartley, up-and-coming milliner Jessica Liddle, Yorkshire Runner and Betty’s, among others.

To complete a real community effort, Raworths law firm in Harrogate is covering the cost of piano hire for the concert.

Fiona Arnold, 54, who works as a careers coach and who moved to the village four years ago, is one of 10 or so local volunteers who are organising the event. She contacted The Yorkshire Post to help spread the word.

“As a small community we find it hard to get a voice outside our little spot in Wharfedale despite our best efforts on social media and dropping flyers,” she said.

“The singers have a fine pedigree having performed with Scottish National Opera and English National Opera. It will be a wonderful event.”

The church, which has no electricity or water, is described by The Churches Conservation Trust as “an enchanting place of great antiquity”. Sadly, thieves stole its late medieval stone roof which has since been replaced by more modern tiles but its original Norman shape and many original features remain including its chancel arch, some of its windows and a well-carved font. Its oak pews date from about 1600.

The spot on which it is located offers fine views over the surrounding countryside. About four miles away is Stainburn Forest, a largely coniferous woodland bordering the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Tickets for the night of opera and musical theatre are limited and available in advance only, priced £25. Email stmarysstainburn@gmail.com