The Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag, Knaresborough
The chapel has re-opened to the public on Sundays, 2-4 p.m., still practising social distancing for visitors.
The tiny medieval Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag is unusual, being carved into the rock in a very beautiful and restful location among the trees. It is situated in the crag a stone’s throw from the River Nidd, about half a mile from the centre of Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. The carving demonstrates high craftsmanship, with a stone altar and the appearance of a vaulted ceiling; it was completed in 1408 by someone known as John the Mason, permission being granted by King Henry IV. The Chapel was probably built as a wayside shrine for pilgrims walking between the town and the Priory and possibly going further afield. It would also have been a place of quiet and prayer for the quarrymen working nearby. The knight carved next to the entrance is a particularly striking feature, and is mentioned in a poem by Wordsworth.
The Chapel lost its religious status at the Reformation but remained a popular site for visitors and pilgrims. The details of what the chapel contained in its early years are not known, nor what happened to the original statue of Madonna and Child, if there was one. The Chapel became a shrine again in 1916. The existing statue, which replaced one dating from 1919, was carved in Halifax in the year 2000 by sculptor Ian Judd from half a ton of Derbyshire gritstone, funded by a millennium grant from the Arts and Sacred Places organisation.
Today the Chapel continues to be a place of pilgrimage and worship, as well as a place of gentle strength, peace and spiritual refreshment for visitors of all faiths and none. It retains its identity as a Marian shrine and is owned and maintained by a charitable trust, 'The Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag Trust', charity no 1171904.
Standard opening times: Sundays 2-4 pm in summer months (April to September inclusive) or by request.
Abbey Road, Knaresborough, Yorkshire, HG5 8HY, United Kingdom
Grid reference: SE 351 563
The Chapel is in Abbey Road, Knaresborough HG5 8HY, about 150 yards from the Low Bridge end by the Half Moon pub. If walking from this end of the road (i.e. from north to south), it is on the left hand side as you look up at the crag (the River Nidd to your right).
By car: Recommend parking in the Waterside Car Park (HG5 8DF) which is about a quarter of a mile from the Chapel. Walk along Waterside in a southerly direction then cross the main road into Abbey Road.
By train: Come to Knaresborough station. Walk down to Waterside and follow the route as for those coming by car (about half a mile in total).
By bus: Knaresborough bus station is on the High Street, about a third of a mile from the Chapel. Walk east along the High Street for a few yards and then turn right into Gracious Street. Follow the road all the way down to the bridge and then turn into Abbey Road.
Because the Chapel is carved into the crag, there are few facilities and at present disabled access is limited. The nearest toilets are in the nearby pubs (Half Moon, Mother Shipton) or along the river by the boat hire places or up in the town centre. The site includes a garden of plants associated with the Virgin Mary and other saints, and another with plants used traditionally for healing, and there is a stunning view over the River Nidd and along the gorge.
Refreshments and accommodation are available locally. The chapel could be used for quiet days for individuals or groups, although this is weather dependent as the chapel is small with a larger worship space outside, and facilities on site are limited.
There are six trustees in the hospitality group, so it is likely that at least one will be available at most times.
See contact details below, or alternative telephone numbers 01453 866080 (The Thornes); 01453 865751 (Julie Clark).
The Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag Trust,
5 Claro Mews
Tel: 01423 861584