Building » East Harlsey – Our Lady of Mount Grace

East Harlsey – Our Lady of Mount Grace

Hambleton, North Yorkshire

Architecturally the chapel and its associated buildings are modest and the chapel itself is mainly a mid-twentieth century reconstruction. The real importance of the site is a long, largely continuous history of Catholic devotion. In penal times it was a popular destination for pilgrims; it still receives many visitors, and Mass is said weekly.

The list description gives an early sixteenth century date for the chapel, but a chapel existed in the fourteenth century. In 1397 John of Ingleby was given licence to have Mass said in a chapel which was clearly distinct from the Carthusian Priory nearby. It ‘seems to have been a place of popular appeal even then. It was approached from the Priory by a well-marked route … In close proximity to several English Charterhouses were similar chapels which came to be associated with hermits’ [Gillett, The Osmotherley Chapel of Our Lady of Mount Grace, p.1]. Ingleby gave it to the Carthusians in 1398 and they may have lived at the chapel site while Mount Grace Priory was being built. After the arrival of the monks, the chapel also became used as a hermitage.

At the Reformation the monks dispersed in 1539, but John Wilson, the last prior, had the foresight to lease the chapel and hermitage to relatives and so they continued in Catholic hands. The site remained a popular place of devotion for pilgrims; this seems to have been fuelled by the tradition that it had been used as the resting place of St Margaret Clitherow. Later on the chapel deteriorated, and by 1642 was roofless. However in 1665, Lady Juliana Walmsley founded a Franciscan Friary in Osmotherley with the express intention that the friars would attend to the needs of pilgrims to the Lady Chapel. In the 1670s Franciscan friars were being buried at the chapel.

Some time after 1832 the chapel passed out of Catholic hands, but it was still visited by local people. In 1952 the Ingleby estate was sold and the Scrope and Eldon families undertook to restore the chapel to use. Archaeological investigation took place in 1954: at this time the walls stood to a height of about two metres but with the old east wall largely intact. Eventually, in 1959 restoration began using stone brought from Rosedale Abbey and the chapel was rededicated on 8 September 1961. The building work carried out by Mr Fred Handley of Helmsley.

At some time after 1969 a window was cut between the chapel and the barn so it could be used as an extension of the chapel. In 1985 the Blessed Sacrament Chapel was built, using the foundations of the old hermitage, together with a small cloister connecting it with the Lady Chapel (Walker Forster Architects of Guisborough).

List description


Chapel and house. Early C16 chapel, mostly rebuilt in C20 and with C20
additions. Chapel has random coursed stone, graduated stone slate roof.
House of coursed squared stone with pantile roof. Chapel of 2 bays,attached
to right is the house of single storey with attics, 2 bays. Chapel: C16,
rebuilt C20. Deep moulded plinth, to west offset diagonal buttresses. To
left-hand bay a board door in original chamfered surround with 4-centred
arch and hoodmould. To right a C20 Perpendicular-type 3-light window. To
left wide stone coping to west gable. West window of 3 lights, C20,
Perpendicular in style. House: mid C19, breaks forward. Central C20 door,
flanked by 2-light mullion windows, all have hoodmoulds. Two 2-light raking dormers. Stone coping, end stacks. Interior: two C20 hammer-beam roof trusses. Listed for historic association with Mount Grace Priory. History: now a Roman Catholic shrine, built originally by a Prior of Mount Grace, it became a place of Pilgrimage. VCH, II, 24-26.

Heritage Details

Architect: Unknown

Original Date: 1500

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed