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Saint Chad, Sproxton

This little church is allegedly the smallest in North Yorkshire having only 9 pews.  Originally built in the 1640s as the chapel of West Newton Grange, a manor originally owned by Rievaulx Abbey in medieval times and its lands farmed by monks. It stood a mile or so away from the present site and by the mid-19th century was used as a barn.  In 1879 it was moved and rebuilt, stone by stone, to provide the people of Sproxton with a church.  The architects, George Gilbert Scott Jnr and Temple Moore, kept the 17th century feel with its unusual square shape.  


This Grade II listed building was once a barn on a nearby farm before being moved here, stone by stone in 1879. The church we know today would originally have been designed as a chapel for family use but has gone through various owners. In the early 18th century, the Sandwith family moved from Newton Grange (into Helmsley and abroad), the Cholmleys left West Newton Grange and the chapel gradually fell into disrepair. By 1765 it was nearly ruined, but repairs were made by Thomas Duncombe which kept it in use up to around 1820.  It spent time abandoned and in ruin, then as a farm shed before Rev. Charles. N. Gray, Vicar of Helmsley, persuaded the 1st Earl of Feversham to help move the building to the nearby hamlet of Sproxton to serve a local community once again. This was part of a broader mission of church building in the parish that also saw small churches appear in Carlton, at East Moors, and at Rievaulx.
The architects at the time the chapel was moved to the present site in 1879 were George Gilbert Scott Jr and Temple Moore who supervised the removal by local farmers of the fabric, stone window frames, doorway and black and white floor, and who tried to retain the atmosphere of a sixteenth century church. (See information on St Mary Magdalene, East Moors for further information on the work of Scott and Moore.) The total cost of re-establishing the church was £1,100.
It is interesting to note that Moore designed the Frosterley marble altar, probably to meet the High Church taste of Lord Feversham, at a time when such altars were illegal under the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874. This was generally recognised as ill-conceived law, but that did not prevent several members of the clergy being brought to trial and five imprisoned. The figures on the Rood screen were carved in Oberammergau, Germany and the reredos is fine plasterwork after a design by Michelangelo.
The Archbishop of York re-consecrated the church to St. Chad after he had satisfied himself that it would be used frequently.

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