The Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag was owned by Ambleforth Abbey until March 2017, when it was given to the group already maintaining the site.
The Abbey had decided they no longer wanted to keep it and gave it to the group and in doing so, formed a new charitable trust. The change has made it easier to bid for conservation funding, with the trust being legal owners.
The building dates back to 1408, meaning that it is pre-dates the Battle of Aincourt, Columbus and Shakespeare – it is carved from a cave.
Ambleforth Abbey had it from 1916, keeping it more as an historical curiosity.
Even today it is still used as a place of worship, something the trust welcomes.
Recently though it has been damaged, with someone trying to gain entry. Police are investigating and appealing for information.
Chris Maunder, Treasurer of Our Lady of the Crag, said:
Many years ago it was damaged, with a window being smashed. At that time we fitted grills for added protection.
We think that this time the grill was removed and a rock used to smash the window, we are not sure if they gained entry, but there is nothing of value kept inside.
There was possibly a collection box take, but that was empty
The vandalism happened between the afternoon of Sunday 8 September and Tuesday 10 September 2019.
The grill has been re-affixed and temporary plastic sheeting used to make it weatherproof.
The group are asking for help with the costs of the repairs and have said any donations would be appreciated. They have a trust funding page https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/donation-web/charity?charityId=1017170&stop_mobi=yes
The Chapel is accessed from Abbey Road and not easily seen as it is set back from the road. There is limited parking, so going by bike or on foot is probably best. They welcome visitors, the doors are open on Sundays Easter to October and at other times by arrangement. You can walk to the outside all year round.
The chapel is still used as a place of worship, holding mass only a few days ago.
Chris Maunder said:
The chapel is a grade 1 listed meaning that it is limited in what we can do. Even the handle that has been damaged will need to be replaced with something that is very similar.
The building itself is made from sand stone, although there are some difference of opinion on that, meaning that it is wearing.
We do undertake sympathetic repair work, like to the window frames and the Knight by the door.
But we are all volunteers and appreciate all donations.