The “Walking through the centuries with a Legless Knight” project for St Helen’s Church, Escrick (between Selby and York) is to receive a £471,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), thanks to National Lottery players.

With funding now secure, the project will carry out essential conservation work and create a heritage hub bringing to life the interwoven 800 year story of Escrick estate, village and church.

When refurbishing and re-ordering works are completed, the project’s Heritage Activity Plan will invite and encourage wider community involvement with opportunities for people to get involved, sharing and investigating stories, designing village trails and learning and developing new skills. The hub will also be a valuable resource for individuals, local schools and interest groups.

St Helen’s is a focal point for the local community. It was built 160 years ago – the anniversary of the consecration was celebrated in July 2017 – and cost £26,000 funded entirely by the Lawley family who were the Estate owners, and were the forebears of the Forbes Adam family who own the estate today. Charlie Forbes Adam, the present head of the estate is the project’s enthusiastic Champion. St Helen’s houses a unique array of high quality monuments commemorating ten generations of the land-owning family, many commissioned from renowned European artists, including Giovanni Tognoli, Bertel Thorvaldsen and Count Gleichen, together with Eric Gill and Fishers of York.

This is wonderful news. St Helen’s is open to welcome visitors every day and now the HLF grant will enable us to showcase our remarkable heritage and make the building more comfortable and versatile for both our core worship and for a more extensive range of events to appeal to a wider community.

Revd Richard Kirkman, Rector of St Helens

Most notable of all is probably the oldest monument, which is over 550 years older than the present Victorian building. It is the legless stone effigy of a thirteenth century knight, thought to represent Roger de Lascelles, who was once ‘Lord of the Manor’. Despite having lost his legs centuries ago, the effigy is acknowledged by the Church Monuments Society to be carved to a very high standard and the weathered details tell us much about the fashion of the time and the precise date when it was carved.

The HLF provides approximately 80% of the projected cost of the project, with the remaining partnership funding already secured from church resources and the much appreciated and vital support of the Friends of St Helen’s organisation.

We are overjoyed that the Heritage Lottery Fund is going to make it possible for us to realise our long held wish to upgrade St Helen’s facilities, enhance the unique apsidal baptistery and create a versatile heritage hub to ensure a sustainable long term future. We can now work with our professional team: Lead Consultant, Jon Steel; Architect, Jamie Holden of Studio Tamacoco Architects and Heritage Engagement Officer, Michala Pearson to progress this marvellous project during 2018

Caroline Wandless , Project Team Leader and Churchwarden

Fundraising will continue as there are some works, such as external lighting, car park and cycle rack upgrading and porch room restoration which are not covered by present funds. Most recently, a welcome donation from the Patricia and Donald Shepherd Charitable Trust has been received to go towards improving facilities for visitors with physical impairments.

Pictured above: Members of the St Helen’s Project Team celebrate approval of the Heritage Lottery Fund grant. They are: front row (l to r): Caroline Wandless, Churchwarden and Project Leader; Christine Mason, PCC Secretary; Rev’d Richard Kirkman, Rector of St Helen’s; back row: Judith Luscombe, Roger Wandless and Chris Mason.