History of St John's Bellerby

The Church of St. John the Evangelist was consecrated on 24th March, 1874.

It is thought that this is the third building on this site.  The previous ones, the first of which was built pre 1801 was described as ‘nothing short of an out  office’.  In 1801 the building was improved but was smaller than the present one, being a long monotonous building without windows on either  the Northern side or western gable end.

A small belfry could  have distinguished it from a schoolhouse ’which had not much light to boast of inside’                  

Mr. J. Jones of Leyburn was the architect and builder of the present church.  This with the chancel, sanctuary, vestry, small bell turret, and porch, was much more spacious than its predecessor.  The windows are of cathedral glass with coloured margins,  The east window of stained glass depicting the birth, death and resurrection, is in memory of Mr. J.H. Osborne, and the west window in memory of Francis Walker.  He, you will notice, has a brass tablet on the south wall, placed there by parishioners in gratitude for his generous gifts to the community.  The pews and furniture are of pitch pine and the octagonal font of carved freestone is from the Halfpenny House quarry.

Bellerby, first documented in the Domes-day book (1086), was originally in the parish of Spennithorne.  It is recorded that the parishioners of Bellerby and Skeltoncote, in 1474, sent a petition to the Pope in Rome, urging him to sponsor the use of a chapel in Bellerby for Mass and the appointment by the Rector of Spenni-thorne of a priest to serve the Chapel, which had a dwelling place in Bellerby for him to live in. They complained that they were far from the parish church and the river called Abildebeck ’is so much swollen in winter that the said inhabitants, who number more than a hundred, are often prevented from receiving the Communion from the Rector, and from going to the said church to hear divine offices, wherefore, in times past divers persons have died without receiving Confession and the Eucharist, and without receiving other sacraments and the like, and worse is feared in the future. 

There is mention of a St. Catherine’s Chapel at the foot of Richmond Hill.  It is thought that this may have been the original chapel of ease.

In 1847 Bellerby Church was licensed for baptisms, marriages, burials and the registers were started then.  Prior to that date all these sacraments were performed at Spennithorne. 

 St. John’s lies at the centre of the Bellerby community and is much loved and looked after in every possible way.

 The parish is now held in plurality with Leyburn and served by a vicar based there.


 During 2005, after much fund raising in the parish, the church was re-roofed and decorated inside. In January 2006 a carpet was fitted throughout.

To find the Church, click on Map





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