Vital repair work at Sleights church now complete

St John's Church at Sleights has been preserved for another century.
St John's Church at Sleights has been preserved for another century.

Important repair work to a much-loved church has now been completed thanks to funding of more than £120,000.

After 120 years of battling the elements, St John’s Church at Sleights was badly in need of urgent repairs to its tower and roof.

The building was about to be placed on Historic England’s ‘at risk’ register when it received very substantial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The funding, and other sources of support, made sure the vital repair work was able to start last year.

This work has just been finished and St John’s has been saved for future generations.

The newly gilded weathercock now sits proud, glittering over a restored church.

Part of the grant paid for a full colour booklet celebrating the heritage of St John’s, giving the interesting history of the church and its predecessors.

The very earliest building was the Hermitage, founded by St Hilda and converted to a chapel dedicated to St John some time before 1224, the ruins of which are still visible close by the river Esk.

This was the setting for the well-known legend of the hermit. In the story, three barons broke into the chapel to chase a wild boar which had taken refuge there and they mortally wounded the hermit who tried to shelter the fleeing animal. As penance for the murder, the men agreed to construct the Penny Hedge from stakes woven together in Whitby Harbour every Ascension Eve, a custom which has been followed to this day.

The current building features, amongst other gems, a full set of magnificent stained glass windows, many of which are by the famous Victorian stained glass artist, Charles E Kempe. These are all fully covered in the new booklet.

St John’s is normally open each day of the week and welcomes visitors to explore its heritage, especially now that it has been fully repaired thanks to help from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Church treasurer Peter MacDonald said: “The congregation was really thankful for the Heritage Lottery Fund support, without which it would have been impossible to carry out all the much needed repairs.

“St John’s has given Sleights village a centre for worship for over 100 years, and it’s great to know we are now able to preserve it for another century.”