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St Gregorys Bedale

History

The domesday Survey records a stone church on the site of St Gregory's in 1085. Although this suffered severely under the harrying of the North in 1069, some elements of the saxon carving can still be seen in the crypt below the chancel as well as the nave.

An arcade giving access to the north aisle was built in 1180, the chancel was extended in 1200, two bays opened in the south wall in 1287 and the Lady Chapel was built in 1300.

In 1290 the unique 5 light window was inserted in the East wall of the chantry which was endowed to the monks of Jervaulx. The Chancel was further extended and raised over a crypt in 1320 and the North Aisle widened in 1342 to include St George's chapel and clerestorey windows were added.

There is a rare defensive fortified tower, considered one of the best examples in Northern England, built in 1330 as a place of refuge from the marauding Scots. This tower contains a ring of 8 bells, the earliest dating from 14th Century, traditionally from Jervaulx Abbey, as well as a priest's bell from 1713 inscribed CUM VOCO, VENI PRECARE (when I call come to pray), which is still rung before services.

Inside the church can be found several effigies that are fine examples of carving from their period and exhibit unusual and interesting features well worthy of examination. One of these, located in the vestry, is thought to depict Brian de Thornhill, Rector from 1308-1343. There are many memorials, generally in memory of worthy citizens of Bedale, dating from as early as 1529. There are also 15th century wall paintings and murals uncovered in 1926 and subsequently repaired and restored. The most complete in St George's chapel depicts the saint slaying the dragon. Others include Bent Riband decoration, various scriptural or liturgical texts, coats of arms and other figures.

The Pulpit dating from 1908 is richly carved with scenes from the life of St Gregory, whilst the Reredos in St George's chapel is elaborately carved with the six saints connected with the spread of Christianity to the Northern tribes.

The entire church is flooded with light from the many clear glass windows including the East window of the South Aisle, the Jervaulx window. a wonderful example of 13th century tracery with clear glass, a number of panes of which have been named with inscriptions.  Other Victorian stained glass is by William Wailes, William Warrington and Butler and Baynes and is of high quality and one, at the east end of the vestry said to be modelled on a similar window in a Rhineland church, is unmatched in England