Not just a children’s corner…

Yorkshire, MONK FRYSTON, St Wilfrid (Sarah Crossland 2012) #002Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful church of St Wilfrid, Monk Fryston near York.

I was there to help assess their application for funding from the National Churches Trust, for repairs to the stone tile roof of the church. However, whilst there I was struck by the warm welcome I was given by everyone there to meet me, and by the obvious community involvement with the church – particularly the close relationship between the church and local children.

The evidence of their work and involvement with the church is all around the building, quite literally when you realise that around the walls of the nave are drawings and paintings of the Vicar by local schoolchildren.

Yorkshire, MONK FRYSTON, St Wilfrid (Sarah Crossland 2012) #045Revd John Hetherington told me ‘The pictures were part of a competition by the Year 1 & Year 2 children to see who could paint the best picture of ‘Me’. It was done in November of this year and there were prizes for the best three and these were presented in school a couple of weeks ago. Many of the kids from school also attend the St Wilfrid’s Sunday Club’. What was especially lovely was the care with which the drawings were displayed… neatly but with pride of place, and adding to the warm welcoming feeling within the building.

Yorkshire, MONK FRYSTON, St Wilfrid (Sarah Crossland 2012) #038Looking more closely, at the east end of the north aisle is a wonderful ‘reredos’ created from fired clay tiles – each created by a child from the Church School (Monk Fryston Church of England Primary School). They were completed two years ago in the summer of 2010, with each child did an image of what ‘God’ meant to them personally. Once the slides had been kiln-fired they were divided, with half were placed in the church and the other half in the entrance to the school.

These projects are brilliant, one permanent and one temporary but both enhancing and confirming the relationship between the church and local children. This is one of the most important things a village church can do. Local children will form the backbone of the community who will one day care for the building, encouraging them to see it as ‘theirs’ is vital.

So, if you are ever up near Monk Fryston why not pay a visit to this beautiful and engaging church.

Church History:

There is evidence that there was a pre-conquest church on the site and in all probability Archbishop Thomas re-built the church around 1080. Building work continued into the 15th century and  on the 12th May 1444 the then Archbishop issued a commission to John, Bishop of Philippopolis to dedicate and consecrate the parish church and churchyard at Monkfriston. There is documentary proof that would suggest the church was originally dedicated to St Mary. In two 16th century parishoners’ wills they state – William Wheldale in 1547 desired to be buried “in the church yerde of our ladie in Monkfriston” and Ralph Horsman in 1553 “within the churche of oure blessed ladie at Monke Friston”.

You can pick up a full history of the church when you visit, as I did.

Church Roof Project:

With such a long history, it’s not surprising that the church roof and parts of the tower have now developed more leaks than there are buckets to contain them and essential restoration work needs to be carried out to rectify this. Of course, this does not come without a considerable cost implication, and whilst English Heritage have generously offered a grant of £110,000 towards the repairs, an additional amount of around £50,000 is still needed.

Unfortunately the National Churches Trust was unable to offer St Wilfrid’s a grant as our grant programmes are always greatly oversubscribed for the amount of funding we have available to distribute.

But, the church has established a fundraising and events group ‘Wilfileaks‘. If you can help with their efforts please get in touch with them directly.

Yorkshire, MONK FRYSTON, St Wilfrid (Sarah Crossland 2012) #025

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