Monday, May 7, 2012

Church of Christ the Consoler, Skelton-cum-Newby

On the grounds of the Newby Hall estate is a small but fascinating church called Christ the Consoler. The history of the church is quite fascinating. It was commissioned by Lady Ripon in 1870. Her nephew had been kidnapped in Greece. The Greek Army was to deliver the ransom of one million drachmae (in modern equivalence more than one million pounds) but one of the soldiers opened fire (against orders) and the kidnappers killed all their hostages. Lady Ripon used the ransom money to build two churches: St. Mary at Aldford-cum-Studley (on what is now the Fountains Abbey/Studley Royal National Trust site) and the Church of Christ the Consoler on the Newby Hall estate. The architect, William Burges, was a master of the Gothic Revival style.

Clearly, Christ the Consoler was chosen as a comfort to the grieving mother and as a reminder to us all of the fleeting nature of life and the reassurance the Christian faith offers to all.

This church served as both a memorial church and the parish church for Skelton. It is easily approached on a wooded footpath and sits in a clearing with a few trees in its graveyard.

On the path to the church

Gate designed to bar non-rational animals from entering

The Church of Christ the Consoler

Side view of the Church of Christ the Consoler

The yard features a small well and a memorial cross.

The eastern wall has a sculpture of Christ the Consoler by Thomas Nicholls, who also sculpted the Good Shepherd over the church entrance.

Eastern gable of the church

The Good Shepherd

Our Lady looks over the entrance

Blindfolded Justice also looks over the entrance

A dog-theme is also found in some of the exterior architecture.


Dog on a crest

The interior is exquisitely ornate, with many fine decorations and details.

Nave of the church

The baptismal font was given in honor of Lord Ripon's granddaughter. The white marble comes from Tennessee. The cover features a sculpture of John the Baptist and Christ.

Cover of the baptismal font

The organ has some nice musical decoration carved around it.

The organ

Angel with tambourine

Angel with cymbals

The main altar has a nice reredos featuring four prophets (Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel) and one of the three kings bringing the infant Jesus gifts.

Main Altar


The stained glass is beautiful and meaningful. One window features Sampson removing the gates of Gaza matched with Jesus bursting forth from His tomb, again following the theme of consolation.

Sampson/Resurrection window

Eastern window (above the altar)

Rose window in the western wall

Detailed carvings in the woodwork are also found all over the church.

Angels on the pews

door to sanctuary

I was even able to catch Lucy praying!

Our little angel

Outside we saw some signs of spring and were ready to proceed to Newby Hall itself, which will be in the next post!

Random flower

Another flower


  1. Hello Joseph, by doing research about this church I have come across your blog; only today, I have posted about Newby Hall and Christ the Consoler, too.
    I've been wondering about the well in the church yard, it seems to me that a well is a rather unusual feature for a church yard.
    So far, I have not found any information about it.

  2. Greetings! I feel like I've seen wells before in churchyards here in England, but don't see any in my previous posts. I may be getting abbeys and priories mixed up with regular churches. We've seen a lot of them in Yorkshire. I will keep my eyes open at future churches for wells and explanations.