St. Andrew's Church in Aysgarth once had the stone head of an important 10th century Saxon cross but this was stolen in 1996. It is unknown whether this indicates a church on the spot at that date or merely a local preaching place. The present church was largely rebuilt in 1536 and restored in 1866. The churchyard is said to be the largest in the country at four acres. Notice the 14th century stone coffin lid reused above the south-east doorway. It is engraved with a hunting horn and was probably for a verderer or forester of Wensleydale.
The only real historical reason of visiting Aysgarth Church is to see the fittings saved from Jervaulx Abbey at the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The building was owned by the monks and seems to have managed to acquire some of its best features: the great Rood Screen and the Abbot's Stall.
The sparkling coloured screen, once between chancel and nave but now adjoining the Lady Chapel, is complete and a rare survival indeed. The Vicar's stall contains only parts of that belonging to the old Abbots,but there are exquisite poppy-headed benchends, one bearing the hazel bush and barrel (or tun) rebus of Abbot William Heslington. Both were made by the Ripon School of carvers.
The church is a regular place of worship owned by the Church of England. Free Entry, but donations welcome.
Next Stop: Ellerton Priory