Heritage Lottery Fund Award for St Helen’s Church, Escrick

Heritage Lottery Fund Award for St Helen’s Church, Escrick


St Helen’s Parish Church, Escrick has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for their ‘Walking through the centuries with a Legless Knight’ project, it was announced today. The project aims to carry out essential conservation work, and create a heritage hub bringing to life the 800 year story of estate, church and community.

Thanks to National Lottery players, development funding of £55,400 has been awarded to help St Helen’s progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.

Community involvement will be invited and encouraged with opportunities for people to get involved sharing and investigating stories, devising village trails and learning and developing new skills.  The hub will also be a valuable resource for individuals, local schools and interest groups.

The building is a focal point for the local community.   It was built 160 years ago and cost £26,000 funded entirely by the Thompson family who were the Estate owners, and were the forbears of the Forbes Adam family who own the estate today.  St Helen’s houses a unique array of high quality monuments commemorating ten generations of the present landowning family, many commissioned from renowned European artists.

However, the oldest monument is the legless stone effigy of a thirteenth century knight thought to represent Roger de Lascelles, who was one time ‘Lord of the Manor’. Despite having lost his legs centuries ago, the effigy is acknowledged to be carved to a very high standard and the detail tells us much about the garments worn at the time and the precise date when it was carved.

Commenting on the award, Caroline Wandless, Churchwarden and Project Team Leader said: “We’re absolutely delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. It means that the building and the unique history of the community will be preserved and available for future generations.  The support will ensure the building can be enjoyed by many more people and used for a wider range of activities.’

Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “This project offers a fantastic opportunity to bring this wonderful church to life, through investigation and interpretation of its fascinating history alongside essential conservation work. We are delighted to have taken the first steps with the Legless Knight, and look forward to seeing the detailed proposals in due course”. 

St Helen’s Parish Church of Escrick was built in 1857 and is a Grade II * Gothic Revival building. The Architect was Francis Penrose, Surveyor of St Paul’s Cathedral and later President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).  It sits at the side of the A19 half way between York and Selby.  The Church is in the Derwent Deanery within the Diocese of York.