Thursday, October 25, 2012

St.Mary's Church- Lastingham

Holiest of places in the North? Perhaps, but this was a church I wanted to see and to quote Bede
in the haunts where dragons once dwelt shall be pasture, with reeds and rushes, and he wishes the fruits of good works to spring up where formerly lived only wild beasts, or men who lived like beasts; Isaiah.
This the place that Cedd chose to build a monastic house early in the 7th century, Cedd, one of four brothers at the Lindisfarne monastic community, left the Lindisfarne community  and in 664 on a visit to Lastingham he was to die of the plague and was buried here. Cedd is of course the patron saint at Chelmsford and I have already written about the church he founded at Othona.  This Norman church stands on high ground and the early Anglo-Saxon church is somewhere below its foundations. Strange church, very Norman, rounded apse, and exceptionally well built.
The crypt was where all the Saxon and Scandinavian carved stones were kept, and was not too scary, the little altar down there being very similar to the one at Bradwell on Sea's Othona chapel.  Photos did not come out too well, but the crypt was well lit and and rather beautiful pillars,  and it is the only crypt in England to have an apse, together with a chancel, nave and side aisles.
In the guide book is the head of an 8th century dragon head, which was part of the Abbot's chair and which is now in York Museum so we did not see it, but loving dragons as one does, it is well to mention that apart from the St.George's dragon at Pickering church, there is also a lovely dragon on the wall there swallowing the sinners as they march into hell. Dragons depicted in church stone engravings never cease to fascinate, cos we know they don't exist but there they are!
There be dragons

Sheep in the church yard

The crypt

Entwinned snakes

Crude engraving of a sword

Carved stones

Danish and Saxon influence

Early 8th Century Sculpture.


  1. It's funny what you find in the depths of the countryside. There was a pub facing the church called The Blacksmith which had raised pies - game, rabbit etc on the menu and they looked delicious, already eaten our sparse sandwiches though....

  2. Hmmm--interesting thought about the dragons!

  3. Hi MM, still looking for them, sure they exist somewhere ;)